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Looking for a list of relatively large but insignificant US cities
March 14, 2013 5:04 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a list of US cities, preferably one per state, that are largely unimportant but have a high population:interestingness ratio - I'm from Illinois, where Peoria or Rockford come to mind. Think cities which are so uninteresting that it's funny.
posted by LSK to Grab Bag (114 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Bakersfield, CA
posted by mullacc at 5:09 PM on March 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Buffalo, NY
Yonkers, NY

I think you will find the most and best examples if you look at the so called Rust Belt.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:19 PM on March 14, 2013


Are you more interested in "uninteresting" or "insignificant"? Jacksonville, FL, for example, is the biggest city in Florida but certainly lower in interestingness than many other places in the state. But it is not "insignificant" in the economic sense.
posted by drlith at 5:21 PM on March 14, 2013


Billings, MT.
Sioux Falls, SD
All of Utah
posted by Ideefixe at 5:22 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


What makes a place interesting?

Ideefixe said all of Utah, but it's hard for me to imagine a more fascinating landscape than the canyonlands.
posted by SpicyMustard at 5:23 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is for a piece of comedy. The qualities I'm looking for are:

a) not desirable destinations
b) generally unfamiliar cities; places people outside the area might not have even heard of despite their size (like Bakersfield, which I didn't know about at 7:08!)
c) few, if any unique/remarkable cultural events
posted by LSK at 5:27 PM on March 14, 2013


In Colorado, we have several large Denver suburbs: Lakewood, Thornton, Centennial. They are spelled L-A-K-E-W-O-O-D, T-H-O-R-N-T-O-N, and C-E-N-T-E-N-N-I-A-L, but they are pronounced "YAWWWWWWN." Aurora is also large and used to be pretty boring, until, well.
posted by mochapickle at 5:29 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Worcester, MA.
posted by lydhre at 5:31 PM on March 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Fresno, CA
Scranton, PA
posted by otherwordlyglow at 5:31 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tacoma, Washington.
Santa Ana, California.
posted by primethyme at 5:33 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Salem, OR .. not insignificant in that it's the capital of the state; but people generally go to Portland or Eugene or Bend, and Salem is kind of "meh" though not as much as it was a few decades ago. Also Kaiser, OR .. next door to Salem, though it has an interesting history of it's beginnings.
posted by batikrose at 5:34 PM on March 14, 2013


Sparks, NV. Everyone has heard of Reno, no one has heard of Sparks.
posted by primethyme at 5:38 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wilmington is the biggest city in Delaware and a financial center for a lot of giant banks and credit card companies. I don't think it's supposed to have much going for it from a cultural standpoint though.

The answers to this question are going to be so subjective though. For instance, I know some people who are crazy about Buffalo, especially it's food, sports teams, proximity to Niagara Falls...If you were born and raised in NYC though, of course you'll think it's "insignificant".
posted by windbox at 5:43 PM on March 14, 2013


In North Carolina, the "Triangle" is considered to be Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, but the city of Cary is right next to both Raleigh and Durham, and is twice as big as Chapel Hill, but is mostly just an agglomeration of suburban sprawl. Because of the large number of transplants from up North that swell the city's population, the joke is that CARY stands for Containment Area for Relocated Yankees.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:49 PM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Utica
posted by jgirl at 5:55 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Peoria is a large city? There's 100k people there with a density of 2500/sq mi. My small suburb outside of NYC has a density of 16000/sq mi. There's a lot of "large cities" then in the US.

Anyhow ...

New York (City) is a world class city, considered by many to be the cultural capital of the word. It's not the capital of the country, it's not even the capital of the state. Albany, with 97k people (compared to NYC's 8244k) is the capital of New York (State). So I guess you could say Albany is significant, it's the capital of New York. But I'd rank it way below NYC and below Buffalo even in terms of "who cares?".

New York, the capital of the world; Albany, the capital of New York. :/
posted by Brian Puccio at 6:01 PM on March 14, 2013


Akron, Ohio fits the bill.
posted by BurntHombre at 6:04 PM on March 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Ohio:
-Akron
-Dayton
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:04 PM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Tacoma, WA
Cedar Rapids, IA
Grand Rapids, MI
Medford, OR
St Cloud, MN
Fort Wayne, IN
Davenport, IA (Quad Cities)
Elko, NV
Grand Junction, CO
Duluth, MN
Connecticut
posted by Lutoslawski at 6:04 PM on March 14, 2013


Rubber City jinx!
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:04 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bridgeport is the largest city in Connecticut.
posted by ohkay at 6:08 PM on March 14, 2013


Duluth is very interesting. It is a cool port city on a giant lake.

Bloomington, Minnesota might fit the bill. It is the 3rd largest city in Minnesota. It is best known for having a large mall.
posted by Area Man at 6:09 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd start with the state capitols, as they tend to be also-ran's of significance.
i.e. Salem, Oregon named above. In the case of say, the Dakotas, will likely be the only 'city' easily recognizable.

EDIT: sorry, recognizable is the thing you're not looking for. Howabout a list of cities that were formerly over 100,000?
posted by Cold Lurkey at 6:11 PM on March 14, 2013


Stockton, CA
Riverside, CA
Irvine, CA

Arlington, TX
Corpus Christi, TX
Plano, TX

Paterson, NJ
Elizabeth NJ
posted by plastic_animals at 6:11 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Meant to say, Wikipedia lists cities by population for some (every?) state. Just google "statename cities by population"
posted by plastic_animals at 6:13 PM on March 14, 2013


Rochester, NY? Third biggest city in New York and home to... uh... okay, there's the university. Kodak and Xerox. Ummm, help me out here.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 6:15 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Harrisburg, PA (the state capitol)
posted by DoubleLune at 6:23 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Henderson, NV is mostly interesting for being next to Las Vegas. Which is to say, it isn't interesting.

Commuter towns are probably good candidates. They can be quite large, but don't really have much of a reason for existing except giving people a place to live while they work somewhere else.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 6:24 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also Erie, PA. Interesting if you live in a nearby rural area. Excruciating if you're used to a city where anything actually happens.
posted by DoubleLune at 6:30 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


A good way to generate such cities, not to mention a fun parlor game, is to go down the list of America's most populous cities and record the biggest one you've never heard of. Santa Ana, CA and Aurora, CO, both mentioned in this thread, are frequent winners.

Here in Wisconsin, I guess I'd say Kenosha, which has almost 100K and is probably largely unknown outside WI + Chicagoland. But if you want to up the phonetic comedy quotient, everybody likes saying "Sheboygan."

Of course, all these places are actually pretty interesting and culturally rich -- but the point is to pick places that your audience doesn't know are interesting, if I understand correctly.
posted by escabeche at 6:32 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rochester, NY? Third biggest city in New York and home to... uh... okay, there's the university. Kodak and Xerox. Ummm, help me out here.

Wegmans! We have Wegmans. We win.
posted by Lucinda at 6:36 PM on March 14, 2013 [18 favorites]


I'll prefix this with explaining that I'm not American, but I am here quite often. As the punchline to the kind of joke you're going for, I reckon any of these would work.

Imma gonna risk some considerable ire here, but, here we go;

Oakland, CA
Baltimore, MA
Boise, ID
Minneapolis, MN
Charlotte, NC

All of these are pretty huge cities, but all of them are perceived as being less interesting, partly due to their more interesting neighbours (eg. San Francisco & Washington in the cases of Oakland and Baltimore), or because of their general unremarkability.
posted by metaxa at 6:43 PM on March 14, 2013


Barstow CA
posted by Michele in California at 6:47 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Minneapolis, the home of the Guthrie Theater and Prince? Not hardly!
posted by Ideefixe at 6:55 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bakersfield is barely a city. The tallest building is 12 stories high. It has lots of oil and pollution. And Buck Owens' Crystal Palace. And an entire country music genre!

Sacramento is large and insignificant, other than the whole state capitol thing?
posted by elsietheeel at 6:58 PM on March 14, 2013


Charlotte, NC. I grew up in Cary, NC - the "triangle area" as referenced above - and wouldn't list it with the other insignificant places. Instead I would go with Charlotte. Raleigh-Durham is sort of an up-and-coming area that has been growing pretty rapidly and developing over the past couple of decades, as well as being the home to 3 major universities. Charlotte on the other hand...I lived 2 hours away for 25 years and...well, meh.
posted by fromageball at 7:03 PM on March 14, 2013


If you're looking for lack of name recognition try:

Nampa, ID
West Valley City, UT
Chandler, AZ

If you really want one for each state head over to wikipedia and search list of cities and towns in State, sort by population. Then pick one you've never heard of.
posted by zinon at 7:07 PM on March 14, 2013


"Interestingness" may say more about the observer than the city. I've lived in more than most, and IMO no city fits your criteria.
posted by LonnieK at 7:11 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lubbock TX
posted by notme at 7:12 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Muncie, Indiana.
posted by BostonTerrier at 7:12 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm thinking the prize for largest city/least notoriety ratio in California goes to San Jose. All they've got is a hockey team and a Dionne Warwick song.
posted by LionIndex at 7:13 PM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Seriously - they're the tenth largest city in the country! Who here knew that? And all they have is a hockey team.
posted by LionIndex at 7:15 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


White River Junction, VT
Nashua, NH
Lewiston, ME
Waterbury, VT
New Bedford, MA
Cranston, RI
Troy, NY
Allentown, PA
Brick, NJ
Smyrna, DE
Baltimore, MD
posted by Nanukthedog at 7:15 PM on March 14, 2013


Jacksonville, FL is known as "Actionville" to certain ironic hipster residents.
posted by Devika at 7:15 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nthing Charlotte, NC. That place is just... eh.
posted by goosechasing at 7:19 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Frederick, MD
(Sorry @Nanukthedog, but Baltimore is very, very interesting)

Mesa, AZ
Casper, WY
posted by OrangeDisk at 7:22 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yakima, Washington and Sacramento, California are the two US cities I've been in that most closely approximate the low civic amenity to population ratio of my nearest childhood city, Worcester, Massachusetts.

In Canada, my vote would have to go to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

I was going to say that San Jose had magnificent Afghan, Indian, and Chinese food, but actually that's Fremont.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:25 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fresno, California is also famous for being dull.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:27 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was going to say Muncie, Indiana as well. They did these studies in the 20s and 30s based in Muncie called the Middletown studies, so named because the town was considered to be such an average, middle-of-the-road city. Every once in a while a movie or TV show will mention Muncie jokingly (Tim Robbins' character from The Hudsucker Proxy is from Muncie).
posted by theuninvitedguest at 7:29 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh totally Yakima. It's like a worse Sacramento.

(Said as a Sacramentan whose father was from Yakima.)
posted by elsietheeel at 7:32 PM on March 14, 2013


Plano, TX is the least interesting decent-sized city I've ever been to.
posted by facetious at 7:33 PM on March 14, 2013


Depends on the context.

I'm from and currently in Denver, previously mentioned, yawn. Others may find its relaxed atmosphere, proximity to outdoor sport, and fantastic climate stimulating. Today was just a gorgeous day.

Also previously mentioned, Irvine, CA. Yes, a horrible, dull spot of suburban blah in the southlands, but to me, it was amazing. Look deeper. 30 minutes in any direction you were somewhere interesting. The conservative environment is home to many amazing subcultures. You have the beach, San Diego, L.A., punk rock, blues, jazz, country, art, Mexican neighborhoods, Vietnamese neighborhoods, Indian and other Middle Easterners in Riverside County. SO MUCH going on there!

So this is hard to determine. My idea of these super dull population centers is in the midwest. Probably all of Ohio, most of Texas, but I don't really know what I'm speaking of. It's just my ill-informed perception of the region.

I've also lived in Buenos Aires and Madrid and found Madrid relatively dull. It all depends on your point of view i suppose.
posted by Che boludo! at 7:33 PM on March 14, 2013


Fort Smith, AR.
posted by box at 7:40 PM on March 14, 2013


Independence, Mo.—so boring, I cut it from a for-publication list of family-friendly travel destinations. Nearby Lee's Summit is also super boring. Granted, they're both within a half-hour drive of Kansas City, which isn't totally boring, but in themselves, they're two of the most populous and yet most boring cities in Missouri.
posted by limeonaire at 7:40 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Peoria? No way. Peoria has, like, the river and industry and vaudeville and stuff. If you want large but boring in Illinois, you want Aurora. 180k people, and not a dang thing to say for it other than "Wayne's World" and "it's next door to Naperville, I guess."
posted by sldownard at 7:42 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bloomington, MN shouldn't count. Populous, yes, dull, yes, city, no. You want places that aren't suburbs.

Definitely Fresno. I was not expecting it to be as generic as it is.

Maybe, maybe San Antonio. I think you think of it as duller than it actually is. I wouldn't want to live there, but it's mildly interesting. More interesting than Fresno, anyway. Having a tourist attraction in the form of the Alamo might disqualify it.
posted by hoyland at 7:43 PM on March 14, 2013


How is it no one has mentioned Gary, Indiana? Not only is it insignificant (other than as the childhood home of the Jackson family, and a really-way-too-far-away commuter town for Chicago,) it's also basically like the apocalypse there, at least as viewed from the freeway. Now that no one in my family ever drives through Detroit, Gary has completely replaced it as far as jokes about mindboglingly decrepit cities on the highway go.

Seriously. The Wikipedia article about this town includes a complete list of fire stations. Not only is this sad, I suspect I can find a Wikipedia policy that it clearly violates, because for heaven's sake, fire station addresses???

I am an inclusionist and will not be deleting the list of fire stations from the Gary, Indiana Wikipedia page, though I considered doing it, which is really rare for me.
posted by SMPA at 7:48 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, also Springfield, Mo. It's its own city, and it's really boring. I left it on the aforementioned list, but just barely.
posted by limeonaire at 7:50 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Montgomery, Alabama.

While it is the state capital and thus home to all sorts of crooks, swindlers, thieves, bagmen, grifters, and clammy-handed con men; it is also a place utterly lacking in natural charm, graceful architecture or locations of even moderate interest.

Birmingham has the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement and decades of jaw-dropping corruption to make it interesting. Mobile has the original Mardi Gras, even more jaw-dropping corruption, and access to the beach. Montgomery? I think they have an Olive Garden.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:53 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Surprised that no one has mentioned Indianapolis over 50 posts in. It's not "Naptown" like it once was, but it just lacks a defining personality or character. It's not completely devoid of spots of interest, but it built a mall in the middle of downtown in the 90s to try to entice people to come downtown.
posted by SpicyMustard at 7:55 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Springfield, MA. 153K people. They roll the sidewalks up at 6pm when the commuters go home. The only thing that happens in Springfield is The Big E every year. Which is actually in West Springfield, a separate city.
posted by clone boulevard at 8:00 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


As an individual from Buffalo, NY, I am required to defend its honor at every opportunity. And I have family in Rochester and Utica, so they get love by extension. I've never been to Syracuse and have no desire to go to there so if you feel the need to hate on western New York, you can direct your rage in that direction with my blessing.

Suggestions: look at a list of major universities. IMHO about every other one is in some place that sounds super boring. New Haven and wherever the hell Notre Dame and Penn State are come to mind.

My brother lives in Cary, NC. I don't think he plans to stay. Other places about which I know little but will go ahead and slam anyway: Stockton, CA and Erie, PA.
posted by kat518 at 8:02 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


And I have family in Rochester and Utica

Then you know, in your heart, how profoundly dull Utica is. Come on. I have family there too! Be honest.
posted by theredpen at 8:06 PM on March 14, 2013


Murfreesboro, TN. Home of the largest undergraduate university in the state, geographic center of the state, Davis Market, which is according to local legend the center if the universe. Apparently if you buy beer in Davis Market, regardless of how many times you leave town, you'll always move back. The only way you can bet the Davis Curse is to pee on the obelisk marking the center of the state.
posted by teleri025 at 8:11 PM on March 14, 2013


I wonder how we determine interestingness. Does interesting = well-known? Or does interesting = things I like? Or interesting = where I'd like to live? Interesting = more interesting relative to neighboring cities? Or interesting = historic architecture, not 20th century sprawl?

Like, I don't know if I want to live in Gary, Indiana but I think it (and the rest of the Rust Belt) is fascinating re: de-industrialization and race.

Looking at the list by population that escabeche linked to, I'm surprised at how many cities in the Southwest I know nothing about -- but I'm guessing there is interesting food.
posted by spamandkimchi at 8:12 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Two people have mentioned Plano, Texas. I went to high school in Plano, Texas.

They are correct.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 8:23 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I agree with the Rochester,NY comment. Xerox/Kodak..dying and yes wegmans is the pride. Although I contend anyone to find worse looking better tasting food than garbage plate.(its called garbage...plate). Also Murphy's laws is an awesome irish bar.. thats it
posted by radsqd at 8:28 PM on March 14, 2013


I live in Charlotte, NC and I can wholeheartedly endorse the meh.
posted by Daily Alice at 8:29 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oakland, CA
Baltimore, MA
Boise, ID
Minneapolis, MN
Charlotte, NC


Speaking as a snobby-ass San Franciscan, none of these are what you are looking for. Well, I don't know about Boise, but Oakland??? Come on.
posted by sunset in snow country at 9:00 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Baton Rouge, LA. Comparable in size to New Orleans, but who cares?
posted by Scientist at 9:07 PM on March 14, 2013


On that note, Shreveport, Louisiana.
posted by desjardins at 9:15 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another vote for not Buffalo. Buffalo rules. Baltimore is pretty great, too.

Cumberland, MD
Fredricksburg, VA
Albany, NY
Harrisburg, PA
posted by troika at 9:16 PM on March 14, 2013


Montgomery is where Rosa Parks said no.
It's also Zelda Fitzgerald's hometown; when I was there 10 years ago the apartment where she and Scott lived was open to the public
posted by brujita at 9:18 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Evansville, IN, easily beats out any of the other Indiana cities proposed so far in this thread.

SMPA's argument re: Gary is self-defeating. "basically like the apocalypse"? Yes, it is, and apocalyptic things are interesting. Maybe not in a good way, but interesting nonetheless.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:49 PM on March 14, 2013


Hialeah, FL.
posted by daniel striped tiger at 9:51 PM on March 14, 2013


I recall people have tried to quantify this based on press coverage. Example, according to which among the top 50 cities by population, Virginia Beach is least interesting per capita. I think there have been more in depth attempts.

Looking at the list of most populated US cities, the first ones I'd never heard of are Chesapeake, VA (#91), McKinney, TX (#185), West Valley City, UT (#188), Olathe, KS (#195), and Miramar, FL (#204).
posted by mlinksva at 9:54 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pretty much any city in New Jersey, with the arguable exceptions of Newark (crime, Cory Booker, Philip Roth), Jersey City (next door to NYC), and Camden (even more crime than Newark, next door to Philly), would probably fit the bill. Paterson, Trenton, Woodbridge, Edison...the latter two are basically just large collections of sprawl.

Others - some of these I've been to, but others are just based on impressions:
Springfield, MA
Allentown, PA (well, there's the Billy Joel song)
Syracuse, NY (OK, there's a college, but...what else?)
Fort Myers, FL
Lubbock and Amarillo, TX (always seemed interchangeable to me)
Dayton, OH
Stockton, CA (Stockton and Bakersfield are the Amarillo and Lubbock of CA in my mind)
Fort Wayne, IN
Greensboro, NC

Charlotte is, indeed, very "meh" - I described it to friends as "basically a big suburb with some skyscrapers plopped in the middle" - but I didn't get the same why-is-this-place-here vibe that I got from, say, Springfield or Fort Myers.
posted by breakin' the law at 10:00 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Scranton, PA.

And having admittedly never been there... I thought Cleveland, OH was the comedy gold standard for this sort of thing?
posted by en forme de poire at 10:03 PM on March 14, 2013


Oh, and my impression is that Manchester, NH is boring as hell.

From Wikipedia: "Residents reflect the regional dry humor by referring to sedate Manchester as 'ManchVegas'."
posted by en forme de poire at 10:10 PM on March 14, 2013


Also, I don't think places like Buffalo or Cleveland really work for this....I mean, yeah, they have bad reputations (though I kinda like Buffalo, never been to Cleveland), but at least they have reputations.

Anyway, another way to look at this is the largest city you've never heard of. The largest city in the US I've never heard of is Chula Vista, CA (#76), which is apparently a suburb of San Diego.
posted by breakin' the law at 10:14 PM on March 14, 2013


I'd compare Charlotte to Hartford: they're both meh, but they're not Springfield, MA -- a city that's all too easy to compare to Hartford since it's half an hour up I-91 -- if you wanted to drive there for anything other than the Basketball Hall of Fame. Which you wouldn't, because Northampton is just a little further up the same road.

another way to look at this is the largest city you've never heard of.

Sort of, but cities in the US are weird things, and some of them exist solely to keep a clump of suburbs from being incorporated into That City Nearby With Those People. Sandy Springs, GA is barely a city at all; its true downtown is an intersection.
posted by holgate at 11:26 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I think boring, I think Des Moines.

I next think of Omaha, which coincidentally is the nearest large city to Des Moines. I'm not sure if that helps or hurts Des Moines's case here.
posted by jesourie at 11:39 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


In California, basically any largish city on the 5 or 99 between LA and Sacramento: Bakersfield, Fresno, Modesto, Stockton, Manteca. Or in the desert, Lancaster, Palmdale, Victorville, Barstow. Also Woodland, Redding, Chico, Vacaville.
posted by WasabiFlux at 12:18 AM on March 15, 2013


Defending the honor of Cleveland, as always -- it's not actually especially boring. The comedy is usually about how gross it is, with our formerly polluted river that caught on fire, etc.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:55 AM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


As for Arkansas, there are lots of choices. The capitol, Little Rock, has about half a million folks but nightlife is pretty dismal.

Fort Smith is dull--it has a few hundred thousand.

Pine Bluff is about fifty thousand or so and it's so much dull as it is ugly.
posted by zardoz at 1:56 AM on March 15, 2013


I don't know if this would help your comedy, but an interesting anecdote from China: I was talking to a long time resident of China and market access expert a while back. He said that there are so many cities in China with over a million people even the senior people he knew in the Chinese government statistical department didn't recognise all them by name without going off and looking them up.

The archetype in the US has to be Springfield. Wasn't that the reason why it was chosen for the Simpsons? There are so many Springfields in America, and at least three that are both sizeable and uninteresting.

Also: Midland, Texas. A town so dull it is named for being between two other places you'd rather be in and its main claim to fame is that Laura Bush is from there. This is the first sentence of the second paragraph of the city's own description of its tourist attractions:
"The city’s outstanding museums span a broad range of subjects. The Permian Basin Petroleum Museum offers an exciting look into the oil and gas industry."
I rest my case, m'lud.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:19 AM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Muncie, Indiana.

Wait...What????
That has to be trolling. Except for one damned good restaurant and one damned good pub, we got nothin' here.

For Indiana, it's either Evansville (which exists in its own little pocket of reality, huddled down in that corner the rest of us forgot about) or Ft. Wayne. They're both far enough away from the gravity well of Indy to have developed their own local cultures, and not become zombie bedroom towns feeding the beast of Marion County.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:23 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yuma, Arizona and Roanoke, Virginia are both cities of ~100,000 that are utterly devoid of interesting things to do/see.

I see that Riverside, CA has already been mentioned, but neighboring San Bernardino gives it a run for its money. It also has the distinction of being the largest city in the US to ever file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy.
posted by Pizzarina Sbarro at 5:13 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Columbus, Georgia. It's like the second or third largest city in the state, but it's basically just a place for spillover population from Auburn, Alabama.
posted by phunniemee at 6:26 AM on March 15, 2013


Sporcle's results page for the quiz on the Top 200 U.S. Cities by Population includes a list of the cities ranked by how many people were able to guess them. Look towards the end and you'll find plenty of towns over 100,000 that only 15-30% of obsessive U.S. geography nerds could name offhand.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:00 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I grew up in Charlotte and have family there. Definitely should be on the list. A great place to live, but you wouldn't want to visit there.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:18 AM on March 15, 2013


I would definitely not want to visit a place that has the Mint Museum, The Bechtler Museum, The Harvey Gantt Center, The McColl Center, Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Nascar Hall of Fame, The Charlotte Bobcats, The Carolina Panthers, the Knight Performing Arts Center, The Billy Graham Library, etc. etc. etc.

I am not into all the things listed above, but to say that Charlotte is dull... is suspicious...
posted by Slothrop at 7:27 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here in Wisconsin, I guess I'd say Kenosha, which has almost 100K and is probably largely unknown outside WI + Chicagoland. But if you want to up the phonetic comedy quotient, everybody likes saying "Sheboygan."

If you want to get a feel for the undesirability of Sheboygan, take a gander a the "Who's More Sheboygan?" contest a local radio station runs during their morning show. It tends to be a cross between Darwin award potentials, dumbest criminals, and anything to do with disasters caused by alcohol.

Example: Sheboygan's former mayor, who lost a recall election essentially due to public drunkenness.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 7:43 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


At one time, Kankakee Illinois was so bad, so uninteresting that it cumulatively rated as the worst city in the entire United States of America.

It was so bad, David Letterman shipped the city two prefabricated gazebos to elevate the livability factor. Perhaps stimulated by these gazebos, K3 has apparently got it's groove back.....
posted by lstanley at 7:45 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not Baltimore. I'm from the UK, have never been there, and yet it is familiar to me if only because The Wire has a cult status here. Also, Edgar Allen Poe and Tess Monaghan. (I'd actually quite like to go there when MrM and I finally get round to doing an NYC-Washington trip.)
posted by mippy at 8:10 AM on March 15, 2013


Charlotte is not dull. There are plenty of restaurants, musicians, artists, galleries. Lots of delicious and cheap Indian food. An active hackerspace with lock picking demonstrations and dry ice jenga. 24 hour french bakeries. The Common Market.

Fayetteville is dull. Think conglomeration of mil/ex-mil making the entirety of the populace. Expect to see offensive bumper stickers on large trucks around Fayetteville.

Ask any North Carolinian which place they'd rather visit. I'll give you a hint - it's the one with an Ikea.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:49 AM on March 15, 2013


City of Johnson City, TN.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:52 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


another way to look at this is the largest city you've never heard of.

I asked this question of a bunch of my friends once. Answers I got a lot included, IIRC, Mesa, Arizona; Aurora, Colorado; Santa Ana, California. (I'm looking at this list.) But those don't really count as they're suburbs of bigger cities (Phoenix, Denver, LA).,
posted by madcaptenor at 9:09 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wichita, KS. Highest population in the state. About as fun as watching paint dry.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 9:13 AM on March 15, 2013


Given some of the contradictory views here (ex: Charlotte) and my thoughts on seeing my hometown described here, which I hope to never see again but I could list reasons why it is interesting, I think if you haven't actually been there, you risk stepping in deep doodoo by cracking jokes about a real place.

I have been to Barstow. I realize it isn't as big as what you had in mind, but it actually gets ragged on kind of a lot as the capitol of nowheresville. With being midway between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, it can have bumper to bumper traffic on the interstate on a Friday evening and the only thing I recall from the place is there is (or was) a Burger King. I lived on Ft. Irwin for a bit under three years. I drove to Victorville, another 30 miles farther, to shop.

Another humorously deadsville: Baker California, home of the world's tallest thermometer. It used to advertise on the radio how many winning lottery tickets had been sold at the local gas station. It is so in the middle of nowhere that soldiers who were officially "in the field" for training sometimes snuck out the back gate to have lunch there.
posted by Michele in California at 9:20 AM on March 15, 2013


Fayetteville is dull. Think conglomeration of mil/ex-mil making the entirety of the populace.

High Point fits that template; it's the furniture town. World's largest chest of drawers. In fact, the presence of "World's Largest [mundane object]" seems like a good indicator here.
posted by holgate at 9:52 AM on March 15, 2013


its not a city but its as big or bigger then a lot of states population wise. Long island . we have 7.5 million people. We have a lot of things that California has and people from NYC come here during the summer (the hamptons).
posted by majortom1981 at 9:58 AM on March 15, 2013


Gary, Indiana is definitely not boring and uninteresting, though. Like Detroit, parts of it look apocalyptic, to the point where it promotes itself as a dystopic location for movies. For a while it had the highest murder rate in the country for a city its size. It's still in the news for random things all the time, usually for something the Jackson Family is doing (they are now trying to build a Michael Jackson museum). On a sadder note, Ed Asner collapsed onstage while performing in Gary recently (for unrelated reasons, it seems).

I remember I was in high school and the city had persuaded Trump's Miss USA to hold the pageant in Gary for three years (they only made it two). The organization invited the school paper to visit the preparations, interview the contestants, etc. I kept asking the contestants what they thought of Gary and they either said it was very friendly through gritted teeth or, as one contestant said honestly, they didn't really let them off the bus. Maybe because the city and Trump organization only painted the sides of any decrepit buildings that faced the convention center -- gleaming white hotel one one side, broken windows and crumbling balconies on the other. They even painted fake interiors on plywood and placed them in the windows of the Palace Theater and added a marquee that said, "Jackson Five Tonite," which is still there.

The new mayor is great, but it's an uphill battle.
posted by theuninvitedguest at 10:08 AM on March 15, 2013


A few years ago, Forbes came out with a list of America's 10 Most Boring Cities. The previously mentioned Chula Vista, CA (my hometown, incidentally, so I can vouch for its not-interestingness) and Hialeah, FL are on that list.
posted by the_bone at 10:27 AM on March 15, 2013


Oh, and my impression is that Manchester, NH is boring as hell.

INCORRECT, MANCH VEGAS RULES AND I SUSPECT YOU ARE TRYING TO TROLL ME, PERSONALLY, A MANCHESTRIAN THROUGH AND THROUGH

That said, there was a mention of Nashua, above, and I'm inclined to agree; Manchester's the biggest city in the state, has a long history as a textile mill town, has a big heavily-French-Canadian section, etc. Nashua, the second-biggest city in the state seems to largely be a stopover between Manch Vegas and Boston.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:21 AM on March 15, 2013


A few years ago, Forbes came out with a list of America's 10 Most Boring Cities. The previously mentioned Chula Vista, CA (my hometown, incidentally, so I can vouch for its not-interestingness) and Hialeah, FL are on that list.

For those who don't like clicking through: Chula Vista, CA. Hialeah, FL. Mesa, AZ. North Las Vegas, NV. Chandler, AZ. Santa Ana, CA. Bakersfield, CA. Aurora, CO. Gilbert, AZ. Henderson, NV.

Only one of these cities is not a suburb of a larger one. The article also explains that they have a methodology - these are, out of the hundred most populous cities, the 10 that are mentioned the least in the media on a per-capita basis.

But you wouldn't expect a lot of those cities to be mentioned, precisely because they're not central cities. I'd like to see a list with a similar methodology based on the central cities of metropolitan areas.
posted by madcaptenor at 11:35 AM on March 15, 2013


Winnipeg
Surrey
posted by KokuRyu at 1:23 PM on March 15, 2013


I was tempted to suggest Long Island but it's less of a city and more of a region. There are plenty of sad regions out there.

I've enjoyed this question. Thank you all for giving me a list of places not to visit :-)
posted by kat518 at 1:23 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I spent the worst six weeks of my life living in West Palm Beach, Florida (population 101,043 really really miserable people).
posted by jabes at 1:28 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


If Greg Nog is from and endorses Manchester I fully retract my earlier answer (also roadtrip?!?).
posted by en forme de poire at 6:32 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Decatur, IL. I've gone to several conventions there and I can tell you - it's really boring.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:38 PM on March 15, 2013


St. Marys, PA. The largest city in Pennsylvania.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 10:52 AM on March 16, 2013


St. Marys, PA. The largest city in Pennsylvania.

Hate to call you on this, but Philadelphia is larger.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:41 AM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Davie, FL.
posted by eleanna at 12:23 AM on March 19, 2013


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