Did you know? New York City, aka The Big Apple, aka the city that never sleeps, aka the Center of the World, is actually made up of five boroughs. Of course, you did. So you must have heard of Queens, the largest borough in New York City, totaling one hundred and seventy-eight square miles of the earth. Seventy square miles of which is water! If you haven’t heard of it, that’s okay. This article is all set to fill you in, so don’t stop reading now!
Fun Fact! Queens is actually the second most populated borough in New York City, behind Brooklyn.
But is Queens, New York, safe? That’s the question you came here to answer. After all, what good is all that extra room if it’s not a safe space, right? Queens is ranked third in safety amongst the five boroughs, behind one of the two islands, Staten Island.
Generally, Queens is considered a relatively safe place, especially in comparison to the other boroughs and many other big cities found across the United States. New York City itself is rated the seventh safest big city in America. And Queens is just a subway ride from Manhattan! How cool is that?
Keep reading to learn more about Queens’s advantages and why it is the second safest borough in New York City.
Queens: A Melting Pot Of Cultures
Diversity is the key ingredient of Queens. It may be the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world. Queens is a very residential borough. New York City itself is a smorgasbord, a tiny sampling of all the cultures the world has to offer. Historically, immigrants landed at Ellis Island, settled in New York City and fanned out from there. Thus, many of the immigrants made their homes in the outer boroughs like Queens.
Here’s the detailed view of Queens demographics as of February 2024:
- Total Population: 2,393,104
- Median Household Income (in 2021 inflation-adjusted dollars): $75,886
- Median Home Value: $603,200
- Median Gross Rent: $1,711
Queens is composed of little pockets of ethnicity, all mixing and matching. For example, across Jackson Heights, a neighborhood in Queens, over 187 languages are spoken!
Other neighborhoods are more focused. Take the up-and-coming neighborhood Astoria, home of Steinway and Sons Piano, which is a Greek-dominated neighborhood. Bring on the souvlaki! Other areas worth highlighting even have culture-specific names, like Little India or Tiny Guyana, with an overwhelmingly Guyanese population. Guyana itself is a tiny country in the north of South America. The name Guyana is believed to be an indigenous word for ‘land of many waters.’
Both neighborhoods celebrate the heritage of the culture in their new home. Every year, Little India hosts a local version of the traditional ‘Diwali’ festivities, or festival of lights. It has recently been held at Diversity Plaza in Jackson Heights and sometimes even spills into Little Guyana! The population of Queens is growing at a rapid pace, over two million and four hundred thousand in the most recent U.S. census. Queens now accounts for over a quarter of the population of New York City.
Almost half of that population is foreign-born. Hispanics are well represented in Queens by Colombian, Ecuadorians and Peruvians, with the largest share of their total NYC populations living in Queens. In addition, Queens is home to Dominicans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Salvadorans.
The Asian population is also sufficiently diversified, with residents coming from China, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, as well as Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. Spanish is the second most common language behind English in Queens, followed by Chinese, Bengali, Korean, Tagalog, Russian, Haitian, Polish, Italian, Greek, Arabic and Punjabi bringing up the rear.
Safety Comparison: Queens vs. Other NYC Boroughs:
Overall, the crime rate in Queens is less than many urban areas of similar size. Police patrol in Queens is split into North and South Queens precincts. South is served by precincts 101, 102, 103, 105, 106, 107, and 113. North is served by precincts 104, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 114 and 115. The precincts are all part of the NYPD. The violent crime rate in Queens is lower than the overall rate in New York state.
Your chances of becoming a victim of violent crime in Queens are 1 in 346. Police compstat statistics are available on each precinct’s individual web page. The property crime rate in Queens, at 9.59 per 1,000 residents, is even more significantly lower than in all of New York State.
Your chances of being a victim of property crime in Queens is 1 in 104. Queens is much safer than both Brooklyn and The Bronx and slightly safer than Manhattan. Staten Island is much smaller than the other boroughs, more insulated and more suburban, which is why it surpasses Queens in the safety department. For example, Brooklyn is only safer than 26% of U.S. neighborhoods, according to the crime index, as opposed to Queens, which is safer than 40%.
The overall crime rate in Queens is 2.93, whereas in Brooklyn, the crime rate is 4.46, about 50% higher. In the Bronx, the overall crime rate shoots up to 7.78. It decreases to a more reasonable but still higher 5.21 in New York City proper, aka Manhattan. There are around 8,000 violent crimes and 33,000 property crimes taking place in New York City annually. In The Bronx, 11,000 violent crimes and 26,000 property crimes. Brooklyn has about 36,000 property crimes and 12,000 violent crimes.
Annually, Queens has about 7,000 violent crimes and 23,000 property crimes. Staten Island, to give you a clearer picture of the one borough considered safer than Queens, has a crime rate of just two percent, with under one thousand violent crimes and just over four thousand property crimes annually.
That should put it all in perspective for you. Crime rates can seem skewed compared to the actual number of crimes being committed, but remember that crime rates also measure population density.
Safety Across Neighborhoods
Like the other boroughs, Queens is a pair of pockets full of smaller neighborhoods, and naturally some neighborhoods are safer, more gentrified, and higher income than others.
Safe neighborhoods in Queens include Bayside, Douglaston and Whitestone. Bayside is primarily White and Asian and ranks high in population destiny. Back when there were a lot of movie studios in Astoria, movie stars lived in posh homes in Bayside. Douglaston is renowned for its waterfront and historic homes and is considered one of the best places to live in New York. Whitestone is an elite enclave that used to be home to – abracadabra! – Harry Houdini himself!
On the flip side, in other neighborhoods, you can be at a higher risk of becoming a victim of crime. Some of the higher-risk areas in Queens include Jamaica, Far Rockaway, and Corona, where Madonna used to live when she was launching her music career. That’s right, there’s also a Jamaica in Queens! It’s mostly a commercial and retail area, the kind of areas that encourage higher crime rates.
Far Rockaway is appealing because of the public beaches, but beware, because crime rates are higher in Far Rockaway compared to other parts of Queens due to a low-income population. Corona is not named after the beer, nor is it la neighborhood mas safer. Corona is a neighborhood where muggings are more common. Of course, you can avoid muggings anywhere you go if you take the proper safety precautions at all times in any neighborhood. In Corona, nighttime crimes have seen an increase, so it is especially important to keep your wits about you in the dark.
Queens vs. The Most Dangerous Cities in the US
Queens is much safer when compared to similarly sized metropolises like Detroit, Memphis, Baltimore, or St. Louis. Detroit is in the state of Michigan. The Detroit major metropolitan area has double its population. Detroit has a very high crime rate. Property crime is 35.94 percent per 1,000 residents, and the violent crime rate is 23.07. Memphis is in the state of Tennessee. Memphis Metro has a population of about 1.7 million, so almost comparable to Queens.
The violent crime rate is high at 25.07 per 1,000 residents, four times the size of the crime rate for all of Tennessee. Baltimore is in the state of Maryland. It is considered one of the most violent cities in the United States. The population is a bit higher than Queens, clocking in at 2.8 million residents in the metro area. However, the crime rates are smaller than Memphis, due to the per capita calculation.
St. Louis is in the state of Missouri. It has a major metropolitan area population of 2.8 million, which has stayed fairly consistent. St. Louis has a fairly low violent crime rate, but a high property crime rate. Despite the large size and large population of Queens, it is quite a safe city in comparison to other U.S. cities of comparable size and population, as evidenced by reviewing the crime rate statistics noted in the earlier section.
Safest Neighborhoods In Queens
While every neighborhood has its own charm, some are notably safer than others. Here, we delve into the safest neighborhoods in Queens, offering insights into their unique characteristics and what makes them stand out.
Rego Park, predominantly residential, is a melting pot of multicultural businesses. It’s home to the largest mall in Queens, the Queens Center Mall, which attracts shoppers from all over the city. But beyond its commercial appeal, Rego Park has an interesting history. Did you know that its name originates from the Real Good Construction Company? This company began constructing houses on the land in the 1920s, giving birth to the neighborhood we know today.
Situated in Western Queens, Woodhaven is characterized by its close-knit community. The saying goes, “The closer you are to your neighbors, the safer you’ll be!” This sentiment rings true in Woodhaven, where residents often know each other by name and look out for one another. The strong sense of community here plays a significant role in its safety.
Striking a balance between urban and suburban, Forest Hills is a gem in Queens. It’s not just one of the safest neighborhoods in Queens but is also ranked among the best places to live in New York City. The relaxed vibe of Forest Hills, combined with its somewhat secluded nature, offers residents a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Another jewel in Western Queens, Sunnyside is a commuter’s dream. The neighborhood boasts historic Art Deco and Victorian houses, giving it a unique architectural charm. Sunnyside’s close proximity to Manhattan and its rich history make it a desirable place for many, and its safety record only adds to its appeal.
Bayside, though not elaborated upon in the outline, is also among the safest neighborhoods in Queens. Known for its scenic views of the Long Island Sound and its bustling Bell Boulevard filled with shops and eateries, Bayside offers both recreation and safety. Its schools are highly rated, and the community is active in organizing events, further fostering a sense of unity and safety.
Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in Queens
While many neighborhoods in Queens are safe and family-friendly, there are a few that have garnered a reputation for being less so. Here, we explore some of the neighborhoods in Queens that are considered more dangerous, delving into the reasons behind their reputations.
Willets Point, often referred to as the “Iron Triangle,” is notorious for its old auto junkyards and repair shops. The area lacks basic infrastructure like sidewalks and sewers, giving it a somewhat desolate appearance. Walking around Willets Point at night is not advisable, and it’s certainly not a top destination for tourists. The city has plans for redevelopment, but for now, it remains a rough patch in the borough.
Comprising two neighborhoods, Rockaway Beach and Far Rockaway, The Rockaways has faced challenges with crime, particularly violent crime. The area’s violent crime rate surpasses the national average, making safety a concern for residents and visitors alike. However, it’s worth noting that efforts are being made to revitalize the area, and parts of Rockaway Beach have become popular summer destinations.
Queensbridge Houses, often simply called Queensbridge, is renowned for being the largest public housing project in the United States. The neighborhood gained notoriety in the hip-hop world, as it’s the birthplace of the legendary rapper Nas. The south side of Queensbridge is predominantly industrial, and while the area has a rich cultural history, it has also grappled with crime and socio-economic challenges.
Ozone Park, particularly its southern parts, has had its share of challenges. While the neighborhood has pockets of tranquility and family-friendly areas, some parts can be rough. Like many neighborhoods, Ozone Park is a mix, with both pleasant spots and areas that locals might advise newcomers to avoid, especially after dark.
Jamaica, one of the larger neighborhoods in Queens, is a hub of transportation with the Jamaica Station serving as a major railway interchange. While parts of Jamaica are bustling with commerce and activity, other sections have struggled with crime and socio-economic issues. However, community initiatives and redevelopment plans are in place to uplift the area and improve its overall safety.
Safest Places to Visit In Queens
Queens, with its rich tapestry of cultures and history, offers a plethora of attractions that are not only fascinating but also safe for visitors. Let’s delve deeper into some of the must-visit spots in this vibrant borough.
Astoria, as mentioned earlier, is a neighborhood that brims with life and activity. One of its crown jewels is the Museum of The Moving Image. This unique museum is dedicated to the art, history, technique, and technology of film, television, and digital media. Visitors can immerse themselves in interactive exhibits, view historic film and television artifacts, and even try their hand at creating their own animations. It’s a haven for cinephiles and anyone interested in the evolution of moving images.
For sports enthusiasts, Queens offers a treat that’s hard to resist. While New York City is home to two iconic baseball teams, the Yankees and the Mets, it’s the latter that calls Queens its home. Citi Field is where the magic happens. This modern stadium, with its state-of-the-art amenities, provides an electric atmosphere, especially on game days. Whether you’re a die-hard Mets fan or just someone looking to soak in the quintessential American baseball experience, a day at Citi Field, with the roar of the crowd and the thrill of the game, is unforgettable.
But Queens isn’t just about modern attractions. It also holds a piece of New York’s rich history in the form of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. This expansive park, created for the 1939 World’s Fair, is steeped in history. It played host again to the fair in 1964, and remnants of these grand events can still be found scattered throughout the park. The iconic Unisphere, a giant steel globe, stands as a testament to the World’s Fairs and is a favorite spot for photographs. The park also offers recreational facilities, including boating, playgrounds, and sporting areas, making it a perfect spot for families and history buffs alike.
Socrates Sculpture Park
Located in Long Island City, the Socrates Sculpture Park is an outdoor museum and public park where artists can display their large-scale sculptures and multimedia installations. It’s a testament to community effort, having been transformed from an abandoned landfill to a vibrant space for art and community engagement. The park frequently hosts events, workshops, and performances, making it a dynamic spot for both locals and tourists.
Queens Botanical Garden
A serene escape from the urban hustle, the Queens Botanical Garden offers 39 acres of flourishing flora. From the Fragrance Walk to the Bee Garden, visitors can immerse themselves in nature, learn about diverse plant species, and even participate in seasonal workshops and events. It’s a breath of fresh air, quite literally, and a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.
Recognized for its immense cultural diversity, Jackson Heights is a neighborhood where you can take a culinary journey around the world without leaving the borough. From Indian to Tibetan, Colombian to Nepalese, the food options here are endless. The neighborhood also hosts the annual Queens Pride Parade, celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, making it a vibrant and inclusive spot to explore.
The Noguchi Museum
Dedicated to the work of the Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, this museum is a blend of art, architecture, and landscape design. Located in Long Island City, it houses a comprehensive collection of Noguchi’s works, from sculptures to designs and architectural models. The tranquil garden outside is also a work of art in itself, offering a peaceful retreat.
Gantry Plaza State Park
Offering breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City is a modern riverside park. The restored gantries, once used to load and unload rail car floats and barges, stand as iconic symbols of the park. With its manicured gardens, playgrounds, and fishing areas, it’s a favorite spot for both relaxation and recreation.
Conclusion: Is Queens New York Safe?
In general, Queens is a safe and pleasant place to live and definitely rates a visit. It becomes even safer when viewed through the perspective of comparison with not only the other boroughs in New York City, but major metropolitan cities across the United States.
Besides this, there are many public safety initiatives consistently spearheaded by local government and residents and their communities, in the areas of creating safe public spaces and reducing negative interactions. All in all, Queens, New York is about as safe as you can get in today’s not entirely risk-free world.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Queens is generally safe at night. As safe as any other metropolitan area gets, mostly. It is wise to exercise typical safety precautions, like travel in groups. Keep your wits about you and be aware of your surroundings. Stick to more crowded areas. Don’t be afraid to ask the police for help if you need it. Guard your valuables. Don’t act scared or vulnerable.
If you’re traveling solo in Queens, New York, here are some helpful tips. Always try to stay within a close distance of a subway station. As always, be nice. Don’t tell people you are alone. If you’re being followed, don’t stop. You can also invest in a pickpocket-proof wardrobe. Try to blend in with the locals.
Don’t bring anything you couldn’t stand to lose. Finally, trust your gut. Areas to avoid in Queens include the south sides of Jamaica and Ozone Park, Corona, St Albans, Hollis, Far Rockaway and the Queensbridge projects. If you have to travel through any of these areas, do so during the day.
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.