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America's Rudest Cities 2010

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When comedian Jim Dailikis moved to New York City from Australia several years ago, he expected a city full of rude, abrasive people. But New Yorkers didn’t really live up to the stereotype, he says. “They’re friendly, but they have a different way of showing you,” he says. As he now says in his act, “I love New Yorkers—they stab me in the front.”

New Yorkers have long battled an image of being surly, but in Travel +Leisure’s survey, they have something to celebrate. The annual America’s Favorite Cities survey asked readers to rate 35 cities on 54 features, including affordable hotels, great restaurants, romance potential, and the overall personality of the locals. In the contest for least friendly locals, New York City was not voted as the rudest city in America—which means someone else now wears the championship belt in Rude.

So which city is it? A major contender is our nation’s capital, which came in at No. 5. Paula Ford, a marketing director in Tampa, recalls the time when she was an intern in Washington, D.C., and fainted while riding to work on the Metro. “When I came to, I was slumped over, hanging out of my seat,” she says. “Nobody said anything to me or offered to help.” The Atlanta native says she would have gotten better treatment back in Georgia. “I would have had a circle around me, offering me a Coke, a wet towel, or asking to call someone. I think what happened to me definitely reflected the vibe of D.C.”

Indeed, Atlanta fared better in the AFC survey—though ranking only at No. 11. But there is something to that idea of southern charm: Nashville, Savannah, and Charleston, S.C., all ranked as the least rude of the 35 cities in the survey.

They’re also smaller towns, which might give off a friendlier vibe. When we zeroed in on the 20 rudest cities, we saw that population counts: the more congested the metropolis, the rougher the attitude. That brusque image of northeasterners only goes so far, however: five out of the 10 rudest are along the Northeast Corridor, but what is Dallas’s (No. 10) excuse?

Interestingly, two cities whose main industry is tourism—and, presumably, hospitality—landed in the Top 10 of Rude, too: Las Vegas and Orlando. In their defense, one has to wonder: did visitors get flack from actual locals, or just other visitors who were throwing sharp elbows to get a picture with Minnie?

Sometimes, too, there may be a disconnect between what seems to be rudeness and what is perhaps just a different manner. Travel guide author Gail Lecht recalls jaywalking across Michigan Avenue after she had just moved to Chicago. “I hadn’t noticed a cop at the crosswalk,” she says, “and he flagged me down, presumably to ticket me or yell at me. Turns out, he only wanted to say, ‘Have a nice a day.’”

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