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The Safest and Most Dangerous Areas of New York City

Long gone is the crime-riddled metropolis of the films Taxi Driver and New Jack City. In the last two decades, New York City has seen an unprecedented reduction in crime. NYC now ranks as the nation’s safest big city. Among the top ten most populous states in the U.S., New York ranks first – with less than half the number of crimes per 100,000 residents as Florida.

In 1990, 63 percent of the crimes reported in New York State occurred in New York City. By 2009, that percentage had dropped to just 43 percent. Since 2000 alone, New York City has seen a dramatic 40% reduction in violent crime. It now boasts one-tenth the murder rate of New Orleans and one-sixth the murder rate of rust-belt cities like Detroit and Baltimore.

However, New York City is not crime-free. It still has some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the United States and some of the world’s busiest police precincts.

Here is a round-up of New York City’s safest and most dangerous places:

Most Dangerous New York City Borough: Brooklyn

Brooklyn has more murders each year than any other New York City borough. However, it also has the largest population. In 2009, Brooklyn tallied 201 murders, at a rate of approximately 7.9 per 100,000 residents. The Bronx had only 113 murders but had a rate of 8.1 murders per 100,000 residents.

Brooklyn Bridge

Both Brooklyn and the Bronx are significantly more violent than the other three New York City boroughs. Despite an 80 percent reduction in murders in both boroughs since 1990, they still combine for approximately two-thirds of New York City’s murders and three-fifths of the city’s violent crime.

Safest New York City Borough: Staten Island

Staten Island has historically been New York City’s safest borough. It continues that trend, tallying only 16 murders in 2009 or 3.28 per 100,000 residents. Their murder rate ranks among the ten lowest in the United States for any city with a population of over 100,000 people.

Most Dangerous New York City Police Precinct: 75th Precinct, Brooklyn

The 75th Precinct comprises much of East New York and includes the areas of Cypress Hills, Starrett City, and City Line. Despite reducing crime by nearly 80 percent since 1990, the area is still plagued by violence. It is on pace to have the most murders of any New York City Precinct yet again this year.

However, East New York doesn’t advertise safety. With bombed-out buildings and grocery stores, and apartment rooftops lined with barbed wire and broken glass, violence rarely comes as a surprise. Instead, it registers as an unfortunate aspect of everyday life in the neighborhood.

Nevertheless, East New York has become dramatically safer than it was even ten years earlier. Clearly, its worst days are behind it.

Safest New York City Precinct: 12 Different Precincts

For the first time in the modern era, 12 New York City Precincts tallied only one murder in 2009. More than 15 percent of the city’s precincts were just one incident away from being a murder-free neighborhood.

Even better news: The 12 precincts were spread out all over New York City, from Park Slope in Brooklyn to Hamilton Heights in Manhattan.

Most Dangerous New York City Neighborhood: Brownsville/East New York

Either Brownsville or East New York tops the list in every violent crime category. Whether it is murder, forcible rape, felonious assault, or robbery, these two adjoining neighborhoods have more of it than any other.

When it comes to grand larceny or thefts over $1,000, no neighborhood is more robbed than Midtown. But Midtown Manhattan is also home to the $1,000 hamburger and the $1,000 ice cream sundae.

Safest New York City Neighborhood: TriBeCa

TriBeCa is the most crime-free neighborhood in New York City. Its many cobbled streets, remodeled industrial buildings, giant loft apartments, boutique shops, and fine restaurants exist in an idyll of tranquility. Despite a bevy of transportation options, the neighborhood does not attract a large amount of drunken party revelers looking to paint the town red. As a result, even fist fights and verbal arguments are uncommon in this quaint Manhattan neighborhood.

By any measurement, TriBeCa is a great place to live. All you need is a few dozen million dollars.

Most Dangerous Area in New York City’s MTA: Penn Station

Crime rates throughout New York City’s public transportation system continue to plummet. Despite more than 1.5 billion riders, only one murder occurred in New York City’s entire transportation system in 2009. However, nearly 1500 major felonies were committed on the trains and in the stations – the vast majority being robbery and grand larceny.

The busy stations and transportation hubs posted the highest incident reports. Grand Central, Times Square, and Port Authority all had significant numbers of crime incidents. However, Penn Station had the highest crime rate citywide.

While the trains on the 4/5 and 2/3 lines are fairly safe, the areas where these trains terminate in Brooklyn and the Bronx are another story altogether. It is best to avoid leaving these stations unless you know where you are going.

Safest Area in New York City’s MTA: Staten Island Railway

Staten Island Railway

While crime incidents on the Metro-North are very infrequent, the Staten Island Railway saw only 12 felonies last year. Twenty-two trains run the length of the Island, meaning there is less than one victim of a crime per train per year.

Most Dangerous New York City Tourist Destination: Bedford-Stuyvesant

Despite a precipitous decline in crime in recent years, Bed-Stuy ‘Do or Die’ still has more than its fair share of crime. The area’s many historic buildings, newly gentrified cafe and restaurant scene, and remodeled brownstone rentals have begun to attract a large number of tourists and vacationers looking for an authentic New York experience. The area also hosted the rise of numerous rap stars like Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G., Big Daddy Kane, Lil’ Kim, and Mos Def and has been the location for a number of major films, including Do The Right Thing, Crooklyn, and The French Connection.

However, the area still recorded 28 murders in 2009 and has some of the highest amounts of drug trafficking in New York City. While significantly safer than it was even five years ago, it is best to avoid wandering aimlessly through the neighborhood.

Safest New York City Tourist Destination: South Manhattan

Only 16 murders were recorded in all of South Manhattan in 2009, making it the safest area in all of New York City outside of Staten Island. It also has some of the lowest rates of felonious assault and robbery.

Tourists can feel safe wandering aimlessly through the oldest areas of New York City. Even Chinatown and the Lower East Side, famously violent areas in 1960s and 70s films, are now safer than most rural towns throughout the United States. They have a substantially lower crime rate than the national average.


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Hi! I'm the Editor in Chief at the CANZ. I oversee all articles published by our writers and even write some of me own! In my free time, I love to try new restaurants, hang with friends and go on walks. I am always down to catch an amazing view of the sun or the stars!