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20 of the Toughest Cities in the United States

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What’s your definition of tough? Is it something that fights and fights hard to protect itself all the time? Is it something that is a challenge? What does a tough city mean to you? The unfortunate truth is that there are a number of cities in this great nation that are considered tough for various reasons; some are standing tall after they’ve been torn down. Others are fighting to survive against increasing unemployment rates, high crime rates and even discrimination of various styles. Women find some cities tougher than men, and some people find that no matter where they go; life is tough. That said, here are 20 of the toughest cities in the US.

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Oakland

With views like the ones that the people of Oakland have, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would turn to a life of crime. But there is no question about the fact that this is a California city that has a high crime rate and it’s getting worse every year. The city, frequently mentioned in rap songs, is known for its bad drug problem and a large gang presence, which is just part of the reason so many of the people here are living in fear, and living as the victims of crime. It’s one of the toughest cities in the nation thanks to the crime that occurs on a regular basis.

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Stockton

When this California city filed for bankruptcy in 2012, all hell broke loose so to speak. With so many budget cuts, job losses and other issues related to financial worry at play, much of the city began to decline. The criminal activity here has increased significantly, the number of people living below the poverty line has increased and the number of people getting into drugs and crime has increased. It’s what makes this city so tough. Many feel that the only way to get by is to engage in illegal activity, and it’s taken its toll.

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Birmingham

According to Business Insider, 95% of the other cities in Alabama have a lower crime rate – significantly lower – than Birmingham. The city is nestled within a county that filed for bankruptcy, which tells you that financially the area is not doing well. Poverty rates and the crime rates here are increasing every single day, and it’s becoming (quickly at that) one of the most dangerous areas in the country for people to live and visit.

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Cleveland

Life in Cleveland is tough for many reasons. The collapse of the economy in 2008 saw the end of many businesses, which resulted in mass job loss. The unemployment rate is up, which means the crime rate is up. The people of the city have turned to crime to get by, and it’s just become dangerous. There was a time in which the city thrived, and today it’s one in which you might think twice about going out alone without someone with you at night.

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Detroit

Everyone, at this point, knows that Detroit is a city in which the quality of life has gone down tremendously. It’s considered one of the toughest cities in the country now that there is more crime, fewer jobs and more people in the city than ever before living at or below the poverty line. It’s not a big surprise considering the downfall of the economy caused many people here to lose their jobs, but it’s tough in Detroit.

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Baltimore

Aside from the recent rioting and other issues that the people of Baltimore are facing and dealing with, the city has long been in decline. The vast majority of people in this lovely city live at or below poverty lines, they are using drugs heavily, and there is a lot of violent crime. National media attention as of late has only made the city even tougher for residents to deal with, and it doesn’t look like Baltimore will return to its previous glory anytime in the near future. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but the people here are learning to deal.

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Little Rock

There are many people that feel this little town is quaint and lovely, but the truth is that the growing number of homicides in Little Rock is astounding. In the past four or five years, the number of murders in Little Rock have increased so significantly that there was, at one point, a time in which there were 8 murders in one month alone. That is a staggering statistic, and it makes life in this little town a bit tougher now that it ever was in the past.

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Atlanta

A beautiful southern city, Atlanta is tough. The crime rate, the drug trade and the violent crimes here are numerous. The city is prosperous, but it’s one with so much access to so many other major cities across the south that it’s a hotbed for drug trafficking and crime. There is a 1 in 12 chance that residents here will be the victim of a crime at some point. This is a tough stat to live with, knowing that someone you know will suffer at some point.

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Milwaukee

What we have here is a city filled with criminals. According to a quote given by a mayor of the city in recent years, more than 85% of the shootings that occur in the city are by criminals with violent backgrounds in the crime industry. What that says to us is that this is a tough town. If that many people are being killed, shot, and violated by criminals, there is little here that is left to hope. The city would like to clean up, but at the moment it looks difficult to do.

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St. Louis

If you look at the list of the most dangerous cities in the world, you will notice that St. Louis is the only city in America to crack the top 20 most dangerous. That makes life here tough. It’s a major highway for the drug trade, and the poverty lines here are blurred. Many people are living well below the line of poverty, looking to crime to help them get by on a daily basis.

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Jackson

To say that the south is a place in which life is simple, easy and relaxed is fairly accurate. Unfortunately, that does not change the fact that this Mississippi city is one that is tough for just about everyone. Racial tension has been prevalent here for decades, and it’s not going away. Violent crimes, crimes against women and drugs are a huge issue in the city, which is why it is one of the toughest cities in the nation.

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Memphis

In addition to the fact that this is a city in which there are many violent crimes and the number of people living below poverty is excessive, it’s also one of the most dangerous cities in the world for women. There are more rapes here than just about anywhere else in the country, and that makes this city not only tough for people in general, but exceptionally tough for those who are women looking to live on their own or travel through the city on their own.

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Newark

Ever wonder why it’s so much less expensive to fly into Newark than it is to fly anywhere else in the NYC area? Not because the airport is further away from the city than JFK or LGA, but because it’s dangerous. Okay, so I made that part about it being less expense up just a little, but you get the point. This is a city known for its high crime rates, it’s tough exterior and it’s difficulties. To say Newark has a bad reputation around the country is an understatement.

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Fairbanks

This Alaskan town does have a high crime rate, but it’s especially dangerous for women. Perhaps it is the cold weather, the awful conditions in which so many live so often, but there is a high crime rate and more rapes here against women than anywhere else in the country. For every 100,000 residents in Alaska, there are 193 rapes on an annual basis. That number is staggering, and it’s what makes this a very tough city in which to live.

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Philadelphia

The city is the second largest on the east coast, but it’s not without its downfalls. It’s known as being the city of brotherly love, but there’s not too much of that happening here right now. In fact, recent statistics according to Business Insider state that there is a 1 in 21 chance that a person will become the victim of a violent crime while in the city, and that is a statistic so high it makes us never want to visit. The FBI states that the most common violent crimes are rape, murder and robbery.

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Saginaw

This Michigan city is one in which people visit fairly regularly as it is close to many different things, but it is a very tough city. This is a city in which women are not treated well, with more than a small number of women raped each year. With just under 200,000 residents living here, there are 76 rapes committed per 100,000 residents each year. These are tough statistics for women all over the city.

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Camden

The people who reside in this New Jersey town know that they are living in a tough city. Not only is it tough to find work here, it’s also tough to live above the poverty line. It’s tough to do just about anything here as the crime rate is high, the number of people without jobs is high and the overall quality of life is low. There are more crimes here than in almost any other city in the country, and most of the people that live here are in agreement that this city is quite tough.

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Atlantic City

It’s the Las Vegas of the east coast, but it’s not a place you want to be alone or even live, really. The crime rate here is quite high, the number of drugs in the area is high and the toughness of life is prevalent. Many people here are having a tough time just getting by, and they are taking out their frustrations and their need to feed their families on the rest of the people here by turning to crime. It’s a dangerous city, and it’s one in which life is tough for just about everyone.

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Trenton

Yet another New Jersey city that makes its way onto the list of toughest cities in the country is Trenton. What makes it tough to live in this city is the lack of jobs and the abundance of crime. It’s a particularly difficult city for women in that there are more violent crimes committed against women here than just about anywhere else, and that’s always a negative. This is a tough city for anyone to call home, but it’s especially tough for women to live here comfortably and without worry.

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Washington DC

The nation’s capital should be one of the safest cities in the country, but it’s one of the toughest. Life here is not easy for anyone with all the politics and the abnormally high crime rate. The quality of life here is nowhere near as good as it is in other cities, and most people that reside her are nervous in many parts of the city. It seems that most of the city is dangerous now, and only a few neighborhoods inspire confidence and a feeling of safety.

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Written by Tiffany Raiford