The backlash may be coming. Houston, the darling of so many lists and rankings lately, is suddenly being treated like a Kardashian on FX’s O.J. Simpson series.
A new ranking declares Houston the worst city in America when it comes to one important category: How it’s laid out. The Bayou City as the “worst-designed city” in the United States? That’s what The Thrillist — those Internet list masters — claim with alarming conviction.
Houston is even ranked “ahead” of New Orleans — a city with a design that actually contributed to the death and destruction of Hurricane Katrina, as this study’s author notes — in poor design. New Orleans’ city planning killed people, but Houston’s is worse?
Somebody really loathes the Bayou City’s no-zoning ways.
Writer Jay Gentile predictably observes that Houston can have “an adult bookstore next to a department store next to a skyscraper” and then unloads his own kill shot: He calls out Houston for having a “less-than-visually appealing (some would say ugly) aesthetic.”
Hey, they all can’t be Charleston, South Carolina.
No one (in their right mind) would argue that Houston is one of the more beautiful cities in the world. It’s more “hard worker” than “debutante,” a place in which things get done rather than marveled over. It is also hard to argue with the study deriding Houston’s “long commute times” and “poor public transit.” Guilty two times over.
Still, even in its supposedly bad design, Houston finds itself in some pretty good company.
Boston’s tabbed as the second-worst designed city in America, which may be true if you’re trying to get around the old town by car. And Pittsburgh, the new darling of the movie business because of its adaptable filming locations and easily walkable downtown, comes in fourth. Apparently, being badly designed isn’t close to a kiss of death.
It’s better to be called out and criticized than ignored.