So you want to move to New York City! Or maybe just visit New York City. Experience the legendary metropolis and all its famous attractions from Broadway to the Belt Parkway before you die. Nobody should die before seeing New York City. Or even put themselves in harm’s way, by accidentally wandering in the most dangerous parts of NYC.
New York City is also legendary for something that is not so much one of the attractions – all the crime. Think about all the classic ‘cleaning up crime in new york city’ movies – ‘Taxi Driver,’ ‘Death Wish ‘Serpico,’ and ‘Goodfellas’ (well, that’s mostly New Jersey). By the way, if there’s any movie on that list you haven’t seen, go watch it now. We mean it. Just bookmark the article first.
But don’t let the movies scare you out of the city that never sleeps. Read this article! It will tell you which neighborhoods in New York City not to wander through or accidentally end up in late at night. Or during the day, in some cases. When you are familiar with your surroundings, it makes safety so much easier.
To navigate New York City like a boss, you must first be aware that New York City is famously made up of five boroughs. New York City is home to eight and a half million people, officially. Unofficially, probably over ten million and counting. They are spread over five different boroughs, two of which are islands, connected by bus, train, and ferry.
No man is an island, but Manhattan is. Most people think of Manhattan when they think of stereotypical New York City. Times Square. Broadway, Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, Empire State Building. The list could go on. These landmarks are all found in Manhattan. 1.6 million people live in Manhattan. Surprisingly, less than a fifth of the population reside in the main artery.
The Bronx is the only borough not separated by a body of water. The Bronx is uptown of uptown and spans east to west. Nearly as many people reside there, with a population of 1.4 million dwelling within its forty-two square miles. The Bronx is home to the pride of the city, Yankee Stadium.
Brooklyn is accessible by the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge, another landmark attraction of New York City. There are far more New Yorkers living in Brooklyn than in Manhattan, which has a population of over two and a half million – nearly double that of Manhattan.
Queens is close but no cigar in the population count, with just under two and a half million people. Together, Brooklyn and Queens comprise more than half by far of New York City’s total population. Queens is also accessible by a bridge – the Queensborough Bridge. A sensible title, indeed.
Finally, the second island. Staten Island. The forgotten borough. The most residential of the five boroughs. Staten Island is accessible via the Staten Island Ferry. It has a more muted population of just over half a million.
FUN FACT! Staten Island is home to what is considered the safest neighborhood in New York City. The neighborhood has a deliciously ironic name: Great Kills, a name stemming from the Dutch heritage of New York City. Staten Island, in fact, has a lot of very safe and pleasant neighborhoods, but that’s a story for another article.
These five boroughs are further separated into little neighborhoods, villages, if you will, although they are all a smidgen too urban to be called villages. Next, the article will tell you the most dangerous neighborhoods in each borough alphabetically. After Manhattan, of course, which will be covered first since it is the main artery and the place you are most likely to find yourself if you are just visiting New York City.
Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in Manhattan
Read ahead to find out which neighborhoods are the most dangerous in New York City.
East Harlem is firmly uptown Manhattan, starting on the Upper East and West Sides. Harlem is well known as a place with a lively culture that has produced great musicians and entertainers. It also beats with the hearts of immigrants, who, quite literally, built the place.
However, it has a high crime rate per one hundred thousand people. Property crimes are a little more prevalent than violent crimes. In a positive development, the city has put more police in the neighborhood, decreasing the crime rate. Overall, East Harlem has 180% more crime than the rest of New York City. The probability of encountering crime in East Harlem stands at about 1 in 22. The neighborhood’s violent crime rate is approximately 1,616 incidents per 100,000 people, with an overall crime rate of about 4,554 per 100,000. Recent efforts to bolster law enforcement in the area offer a hopeful prospect for improving these statistics and enhancing safety in the near future.
East Harlem’s boundaries are 96th street, Fifth Avenue, and the East and Hudson Rivers.
Gramercy Park is policed by a precinct notorious for crime. Your chances of being a victim of crime are one in twenty-seven, much lower odds than East Harlem or the next entry, Greenwich Village.
The good news is there are far more property crimes than violent crimes, which means it’s fairly safe to visit. Not as much to reside in, though. Gramercy Park is a tiny neighborhood on East 20th and 21st Street and Gramercy Park Place North and South.
Most downtown New York City neighborhoods are safe, like Tribeca and the East and West Villages. Greenwich Village, however, is not. Wealthy residents, tourists, and students are always ripe for the crime picking.
Greenwich Village, along with its sister neighborhood, The Meatpacking District, has a high larceny and property crime rate, despite its busy commercial streets. A rate close to East Harlem, in fact. Greenwich Village is bounded by 14th Street, Broadway, Houston, and the Hudson River.
Where does that name come from? Bet you’d like to know. There is some controversy over the origin. Some say the neighborhood got the nickname for being a tough area where dockworkers lived. Others say it was adopted from a German restaurant of the same name nearby.
Although crime has dropped significantly in Hell’s Kitchen in recent years, the neighborhood still finds itself near the bottom of the ‘safest’ list. Hell’s Kitchen’s boundaries are 34th Street, 59th Street, Eighth Avenue, and the Hudson River.
Koreatown is a neighborhood that is not just on this list, but often on lists of most dangerous in all five boroughs overall. Koreatown is a small neighborhood, encompassing under a square mile.
Koreatown has a high violent crime and property crime rate compared to the rest of New York City. Koreatown is in Midtown Manhattan, bounded by Fifth and Sixth avenues and West 31st and 36th Streets.
Midtown/Times Square/Theatre District
Also easily not just one of the most dangerous areas in Manhattan but throughout all of New York City. Most New Yorkers stay away from Times Square. Because of all the tourists. Which is also the reason it’s such a high-crime area.
It’s bound to be a high crime area because of the overcrowding, making it easy for many crimes to go overlooked or unnoticed. Be careful in this area. Midtown actually came in dead last – no pun intended – on many safest neighborhoods list. Midtown covers a lot of ground – officially from 34th to 59th Streets and Eighth Avenue to Third Avenue.
Most Dangerous Neighborhoods In The Bronx
Your chances of being a crime victim in Fordham is one in thirty-two. A little better than in some of the Manhattan areas. Fordham is around thirty percent more expensive than the rest of the country. Fordham is, of course, named after the well-known Fordham University. This neighborhood is home to the university’s Rose Hill Campus contrasting an academic environment with a troubling safety record. The assault rate in Fordham notably stands at nearly five times the national average, a stark indicator of the safety issues the area faces.
The likelihood of encountering crime in Fordham is approximately 1 in 29. The area experiences a violent crime rate of about 1,251 incidents per 100,000 people, with an overall crime rate of around 3,604 per 100,000. The persistent high crime rate makes Fordham a neighborhood where caution is advised, especially when walking alone at night. The future of Fordham’s safety landscape remains a topic of concern, with hopes for improvements in the coming years.
Fordham has a one hundred and fourteen percent higher crime rate than the rest of New York City. This is due to the fact that it has a small population compared to the rest of the city. Luckily, property crime incidents are twice as high as violent crime incidents.
Hunts Point is a mostly industrial area of the city. There have been many efforts to clean up this part of Brooklyn, but those efforts have mostly fallen short. Hunts Point is found on almost every list of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the five boroughs. Hunts Point covers over two square miles of The Bronx and has a population of approximately 26,000. Its crime rate is over two hundred percent higher than the rest of the city.
The likelihood of falling victim to a crime in Hunts Point is startlingly high, with statistics suggesting about a 1 in 22 chance. This rate is alarmingly higher than many other parts of the city and indeed, the nation. Among the various crimes, sexual assault cases are particularly troubling and are reported to be on the rise, adding a grave concern for residents and visitors alike.
Diving into the numbers, the average violent crime rate in Hunts Point is approximately 1,944 incidents per 100,000 people. To put this into perspective, this rate is significantly higher than many other neighborhoods in New York City. The overall crime rate, which encompasses both violent and non-violent crimes, stands at about 4,557 per 100,000 people. These figures paint a stark picture of the risks associated with the area.
Mott Haven, on the other hand, is often found at the top of the list. It has a much bigger population sandwiched in a much smaller amount of space. It has an even higher crime rate than Hunts Point when compared to the rest of the city – clearing over two hundred and fifty percent. That’s just compared to the city. Compared to the rest of the country, on average, it is a whopping three hundred and sixty percent higher. Robbery, rape, murder, assault, property and vehicle theft are all prevalent.
Mott Haven is frequently noted for its challenging safety issues. The area’s crime rate is alarmingly high, nearly quadrupling the national average. This situation makes it advisable for residents and visitors to be particularly cautious, especially after dark. Avoiding unnecessary travel through Mott Haven, especially during evening hours, is often recommended for safety.
The odds of experiencing crime in Mott Haven stand at about 1 in 32. This area witnesses a violent crime rate of approximately 2,039 incidents per 100,000 people, and the total crime rate soars to around 5,181 per 100,000. These figures encompass various criminal activities, including rape, murder, assault, and robbery. Remaining vigilant and alert in Mott Haven is essential, irrespective of the time of day.
The boundaries of the South Bronx neighborhood are East 149th to 161st Street, the Cross Bronx Expressway and Fordham Road. Historically, South Bronx has been considered one of the most dangerous areas in New York City.
Currently, it has one hundred percent more crime in comparison to the rest of the city. So not as bad as some other areas covered in this article. Still, South Bronx has a record of about 1,155 violent crimes per 100,000 residents.
Tremont is a little worse off than the South Bronx and it is a mostly residential area consisting of low income residents. It’s crime rate is one hundred thirteen percent higher than the rest of the city. In fact, Tremont is one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country. Your chances of being a victim of crime in Tremont are one in thirty-two. It’s not the most dangerous but it’s on the high side. Tremont is bordered by East 181st Street, Third Avenue, the Cross-Bronx Expressway and the Grand Concourse.
The likelihood of falling victim to a crime in Tremont is around 1 in 35. The neighborhood experiences a violent crime rate of approximately 1,223 incidents per 100,000 people, with a general crime rate near 2,898 per 100,000. This high rate of crime underscores the importance of being vigilant and aware of one’s surroundings when navigating through Tremont, both during the day and at night.
Highbridge, located in the Bronx, presents a paradoxical picture: it’s a neighborhood known for its vibrant coffee shops and iconic film locations, attracting many tourists, yet simultaneously, it grapples with significant safety issues. Despite its popularity and cultural spots, Highbridge is often cited as one of New York’s more challenging neighborhoods, primarily due to prevalent street and drug-related crimes.
The risk of becoming a crime victim in Highbridge is approximately 1 in 29. The neighborhood experiences a violent crime rate of around 1,149 incidents per 100,000 people, with a general crime rate of about 3,564 per 100,000. While Highbridge has its appealing aspects, it is essential for residents and visitors to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings at all times, given the unpredictable nature of safety in the area.
Most Dangerous Neighborhoods In Brooklyn
If you’re a fan of gangsta rap and the 2pac-Biggie East Coast/West Coast Wars, you’ve definitely heard the word ‘Bed-Stuy’ thrown around. That refers to the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, historically one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in New York City. Stuyvesant is an esteemed name in New York City, as Peter Stuyvesant was a Dutchman largely responsible for expanding New York City beyond Manhattan in the old 1600s. Remarkably, it is now associated with such a violent neighborhood. After years of reform, the neighborhood crime rate is ticking slightly back up.
Bed-Stuy has a notorious history associated with crime, although its current state is not as perilous as it once was during the era immortalized in Biggie Smalls’ lyrics. Nonetheless, there has been a noticeable uptick in crime rates in recent years. Incidents often involve robberies and violent encounters, necessitating constant vigilance for those in the Bed-Stuy area.
The likelihood of being a crime victim in Bedford-Stuyvesant is approximately 1 in 35. The neighborhood experiences a violent crime rate of roughly 1,065 incidents per 100,000 people, with a general crime rate of about 2,902 per 100,000. Given these statistics, Bedford-Stuyvesant is considered one of the less safe areas in New York City, a factor to be seriously considered by visitors and those looking for a long-term residence in the city.
Brownsville sadly holds the title of topping the list of worst neighborhoods in NYC. Brownsville is a victim of extreme violence.
Brownsville is often cited as one of the city’s more perilous neighborhoods. This part of New York has been notorious for its elevated levels of violent incidents, including homicides and drug-related fatalities. The neighborhood’s murder rate, almost quadrupling the city’s average, highlights the significant safety risks present. For the average New Yorker, navigating through Brownsville can be a gamble due to these heightened crime rates.
The likelihood of encountering crime in this area is approximately 1 in 36. Brownsville experiences a violent crime rate of about 1,264 incidents per 100,000 people, with the general crime rate hovering around 2,810 per 100,000. These statistics suggest a considerable risk of becoming a crime victim in this part of Brooklyn. As such, prioritizing safety and caution is advisable, making Brownsville a neighborhood to avoid when possible.
Besides the high number of drug-related murders, deaths, and homicides, Brownsville also suffers from high infant mortality and a low life expectancy if the infant does make it. The homicide rate is nearly four times that of the rest of New York City.
The neighborhood of Bushwick includes Knickerbocker Avenue, a street synonymously linked with the ‘crack wars’ of the eighties. It has been a bit gentrified, with young professionals moving into revamped factory loft apartments and turning the neighborhood into a Williamsburg reboot.
Crime rates remain higher than other regions in Brooklyn. Violent crimes are less prevalent, but with property crime rates the number climbs higher. The probability of encountering crime in Bushwick is around 1 in 40. The neighborhood’s violent crime rate is approximately 727 incidents per 100,000 people, with a general crime rate of about 2,511 per 100,000. While the frequency of violent crimes is comparatively lower, issues like petty theft and robbery are still prevalent. However, there is an expectation that the crime rate in Bushwick will decrease as the neighborhood continues to develop and stabilize.
Dumbo is another neighborhood populated by retired factories transformed into loft apartments. Dumbo stands for ‘Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass’.
Rates of murder, robbery and burglary continue to rise in Dumbo. It ranks near the bottom of the list in both property crime and violent crime.
Fort Greene is actually considered a historic quarter of Brooklyn. The problem with the neighborhood is a large division socio-economically. Real estate prices are booming. But the neighborhood also includes low-income housing.
Murders and robberies are both on the rise in Fort Greene. It also ranks low on both property and violent crime rate lists. The risk of robbery is thirty one percent higher than the national average.
Most Dangerous Neighborhoods In Queens
Luckily, there are less dangerous neighborhoods in Queens. Not less dangerous, just less of them. Towards the end of the twentieth century, Jackson Heights was known as the ‘capital of cocaine’.
Crime has declined since then. Still, about seventy percent of cities are safer than Jackson Heights. On the bright side, the rate of violent crimes per capita is less than the rest of New York City as a whole.
Jamaica the neighborhood might not be as dangerous as Jamaica the country, but in comparison to the rest of Queens, it ranks.
Property crime is much worse than violent crime, by almost double the rate. The north side is not so bad, but avoid the southeastern side of the ‘hood. Your chance of being a victim is one in forty two, so it’s still safer than some of the neighborhoods previously noted on this list.
Be Smart, Be Safe
Mostly, if you’re smart, you can stay safe in New York City anywhere you go.
- Stay aware, don’t carry valuables, don’t show any fear.
- Preparation is also key. Map your route for the day before you leave. Identify your taxi by the iconic roof light and ID number.
- If you ride the subway, buy a MetroCard from an authorized dealer, be cautious while waiting by the tracks and ride in the conductor’s car at night.
- Go straight to your accommodation and put your valuables into the safe. Don’t answer the door for strangers. And certainly don’t take their candy!
Good luck, and stay safe in New York City!
Born and raised amidst the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, I’ve witnessed the city’s many exciting phases. When I’m not exploring the city or penning down my thoughts, you can find me sipping on a cup of coffee at my favorite local café, playing chess or planning my next trip. For the last twelve years, I’ve been living in South Williamsburg with my partner Berenike.