New York and Los Angeles, the nation's two largest cities, are notoriously filthy in their own special ways. New York packs its residents in extra tight for that one-of-a-kind human-density stench, but L.A. does the same with its cars; New York's streets ooze with nasty brown slush in the winter-spring months, but L.A.'s smoggy skyline doesn't look much better in summer.
Readers of Travel + Leisure magazine, however, have deemed our spread-out air filth as the lesser of two evils in 2012:
Los Angeles now ranks No. 4 on the survey's annual list of "America's Dirtiest Cities," down from No. 3 last year.
"Voters still found the sunny skies appealing and applauded the city's less-than-gleaming features, such as the classic burgers and kitsch-filled flea markets," explains the magazine.
Perhaps more notably, New York has climbed four whole spots, from No. 5 to No. 1 -- officially seizing the dirtiest-city title from New Orleans, who won last year.
Travel + Leisure blames the East Coast city's increasingly grimy reputation on its lax littering fines -- as well as, amusingly, the metaphorical trash occupying the hearts of NYC residents.
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"Pollution isn't always just what you see or smell," reads a judgmental blurb. "New York also won the survey for being the loudest and rudest city."
We hear you there, Travel + Leisure. In the end, we chose L.A. over New York because the smog is fleeting (and very escapable on the city's Westside), whereas braving the streets of NYC is a guaranteed onslaught of terrible fish-gut smells, sidewalk gum, bird poop, taxi horns and insults. Perhaps even the occasional falling air conditioner.
Forbes and the American Lung Association still think L.A. is America's dirtiest. But on street level, one travel magazine's constituents can agree: There's no metropolitan dust devil quite like New York Shitty.