Entries in Cities (4)


What's the Worst-Dressed City in America?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Alaska is known for its panoramic views, diverse wildlife and stunning mountaintops peaked with snow.  What it takes to stay warm and safe among those wild animals and frigid temperatures, however, has earned the residents of the state's most populous city a dubious distinction.

Anchorage, Alaska, has been rated America's least stylish city.  The flannel shirts, heavy parkas and furry ear covers common in the far north city were too much for the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine who participated in the magazine's annual online poll ranking U.S. cities.

Poll participants were asked to rate 35 cities on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest.  The total scores were then averaged and rounded to the nearest hundredth.  In the " Stylish" category, Anchorage scored dead last among non-residents with a score of 3.06.

"It's not uncommon to see oversized parkas with fur-lined hoods and bunny boots, and people aren't alarmed when a person wearing a ski mask enters a room," Dr. Miriam Jones, a paleoclimatologist who spent two years studying in Alaska, told the magazine.

Ranking not far behind Anchorage in the magazine's fashion "no" list is another city with a cold climate, Salt Lake City, Utah, followed by a more moderate climate locale, Baltimore, Md., whose residents may not have anyone or anything to blame but themselves for their ranking.

Rounding out the top six on the least-stylish list are Orlando, Fla., where residents can blame the tourists that invade their city dressed for Mickey Mouse and not the runway, and the Texan cities of San Antonio and Dallas, proving that everything is bigger in Texas, even bad fashion.

Taking a bad rap for the way they are portrayed on TV are the citizens of Atlanta who were deemed the nation's seventh-least-stylish citizens thanks to a certain quintet of as-seen-on-TV stars.

"If the flashy reality-TV stars of The Real Housewives of Atlanta are at all indicative of how the rest of Atlanta dresses, it's no wonder our readers ranked it as America's No. 7 least-stylish city," Travel + Leisure writes on its website. "Hotlanta has one of the highest per-capita incomes of any southern city, but as the TV show illustrates and the saying goes: money can't buy taste."

On the other end, the best-dressed cities list stretches from coast to coast and north to south, and includes even a city surrounded by water.

New York City ranked number one with a near-perfect score of 4.56, followed by San Juan, Puerto Rico, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Representing the South in a surprisingly high finish is the city of Savannah with a score of 4.32 from the magazine's readers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cities Cut Streetlights, Playgrounds, Police in Tough Times

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Topeka, Kan., became the latest city to take drastic measures to deal with budget shortfalls when it repealed its domestic violence law Tuesday. The city disputed with the county and a district attorney who should pay for prosecuting domestic violence criminals. Topeka District Attorney Chad Taylor released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying that despite budget cuts to his department, his office would make do with less in order to continue prosecuting incidents of domestic violence.

Cities around the country have been forced to cut basic services such as laws and streetlights because of budget woes in recent years:

-- Say Goodbye to Streetlights: The embattled city of Detroit lost 1,400 streetlights in one of its most impoverished neighborhoods, Highland Park, when it couldn’t afford to pay its electrical bill, according to Michigan Live. The neighborhood owed $4 million in unpaid bills when the utility came to collect the poles. Dark streets and sidewalks in the city lead some critics to predict crime will rise.

-- Say Hello to Potholes with KFC Logos: A suburban town with a serious budget problem, Naperville, Ill., once considered a deal in which Kentucky Fried Chicken would pay for pothole repairs in exchange for stamping the new potholes with the chicken chain’s logo, according to the Chicago Tribune.

-- Hello, Officer?: The city of Alto, Texas, population 1,200, decided to cut its entire police force for six months, laying off five officers and increasing emergency response time from three minutes to 15 minutes, according to the Wall Street Journal. Citizens will rely on sheriff’s officers in the meantime, though the county force is already stretched thin after nearby Wells laid off its sole police officer earlier in the year.

-- No More Playtime for You!: Kids in Clearwater, Fla., lost nine playgrounds -- with six more scheduled to go -- because of budget cuts, according to the St. Petersburg Times. Replacing the aging playgrounds had become too expensive for the struggling city, so the playgrounds were demolished, instead.

-- One Square Per Person:
Parks Department employees in Coney Island, N.Y., doled out squares of toilet paper to bathroom patrons near the Coney Island boardwalk last summer, leaving the toilet paper canisters in stalls empty. The rationing was said to be prompted by budget constraints on the department, according to the New York Post, though a city spokeswoman denied the claim.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Many Towns Will Forgo Fireworks Celebrations This Year

Photos[dot]com(SANTA FE, N.M.) -- To celebrate Independence Day, there will be quite a fireworks show on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. But in many other places, Americans will be denied their Fourth of July celebrations.

The summer has brought unusually dry weather to some parts of the country, creating fears that having fireworks celebrations would just be too dangerous.

"The chances of fires getting started are much greater when it's hot and exceptionally dry out," Accuweather broadcaster Jeannette Calle said.

With wildfires already blazing in Arizona and New Mexico, the bans on fireworks are spreading.

"Across New Mexico, we have seen just how quickly fires can burn through our landscape and impact our communities," New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said. "I am asking New Mexicans to follow all state and local fireworks bans and restrictions and pull together to ensure a safe and celebratory Independence Day weekend."

But New Mexico's governor has limited power.

"I ordered no fireworks used on state land," Martinez said. "That is the only authority I have as governor."

Martinez begged residents to forgo fireworks this year, even going as far as declaring a state of emergency regarding the use of fireworks, effective through July 6.

In Texas, where more than 3 million acres have been scorched, nearly every county has banned fireworks. This means that for the first time, 100,000 people in Austin won't see fireworks explode as the Texas Symphony performs, because the show was cancelled.

But one Texas town, Amarillo, has come up with a solution to the problems: Instead of the usual pyrotechnics, the town will have a laser show instead.

"Something new, something different and something safe. And really celebrating a wonderful day," Amarillo National Bank Vice President William Ware said.

It's not just the fire hazard that is causing the lack of fireworks this year. For some cities, economic hardships are putting an end to their patriotic plans.

In Chicago, for example, the city will have its big fireworks show on the Fourth, but the show for the big annual food festival, Taste of Chicago, this weekend, has been cancelled because of budget worries.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


Tornadoes Can Strike Any City; Result Can Be More Deadly

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When many Americans think of tornadoes, they think of Kansas and Oklahoma, not Massachusetts and Minnesota.  But tornadoes have touched down in both those states in the past few weeks.

Multiple tornadoes slammed western and central Massachusetts Wednesday night, destroying buildings, flipping vehicles and leaving three people dead.  A tornado touched down in Brooklyn last year, causing significant damage in the New York City borough.

"The reality is, any city can be hit by a tornado," Kenneth Blumenfeld, visiting assistant professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Minnesota, told ABC News.  "If you have sufficient moisture in the atmosphere, instability, some lifting mechanism and the proper wind patterns as they go up into the atmosphere, you can get a tornado.  Those conditions tend to be more common in some areas than others, but the fact is, they can arise just about anywhere."

Blumenfeld has been collecting data on urban tornadoes and the statistics he has gathered point to more damage and higher casualty rates with urban versus rural tornadoes.

"Tornadoes that move into major cities tend to kill with between five to 16 times the frequency of tornadoes in rural areas," he said.

This year is already the deadliest for tornadoes since 1953, with more than 500 deaths from more than 1,000 tornadoes so far, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  April also set a record as the deadliest month with 361 tornado-related deaths, according to NOAA's records.

The combination of more tornadoes and urban growth has paired to put more populated areas in the paths of tornadoes.  Although building regulations for skyscrapers make them much harder to obliterate than single-family homes, tornado strikes in cities can be particularly dangerous.

"People are mostly killed by debris [in tornadoes], so when you've got a lot of stuff flying around and a lot of people, that's a pretty dangerous interface," Blumenfeld said.  "If the debris is heavy enough, it's like a series of wrecking balls that bombard buildings until the tornado passes."

Wind tunnels created by buildings can also increase the danger in an already dangerous situation.´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio