This list of the most dangerous neighborhoods in New York was produced in December 2015 by the AddressReport association, based on the crime rate recorded by the New York Police Department in the 250 neighborhoods of New York. It is therefore not the personal feelings of the blogger who writes these lines, but a study on official figures which list all crimes and offenses.
Here are the 20 neighborhoods with the highest number of crimes in relation to the population, in descending order:
1/ Vinegar Hill (Brooklyn)
Vinegar Hill is located just east of Dumbo, not far from the Brooklyn Bridge. And so it is the New York neighborhood that has the highest crime rate in New York. There is nothing touristy about this difficult neighborhood, so you can definitely avoid it. No need to go there for adventure!
2/ Downtown Brooklyn (Brooklyn)
Downtown Brooklyn is worth a visit, but yet this neighborhood still leads the crime statistics. The problem is, Downtown Brooklyn doesn’t look the same day and night at all. During the day, during office hours, you will feel safe. On the other hand, no need to hang around there at night.
3/ Times Square (Manhattan)
According to New York City Police statistics, Times Square is the 3rd most dangerous neighborhood in New York City. What is causing the statistics to skyrocket is not the murders but the very high number of thefts. I personally witnessed a pick-pocketing a few years ago in Times Square: the thief launched himself on his victim, tore his bag from him and ran away. But he did not get very far: a policeman, who had seen the scene from the sidewalk opposite, jumped up and caught up with the thief.
In Times Square, stay vigilant and put your wallet in an inside pocket instead. For the rest, Times Square is a place that you absolutely must visit to take in the view. More information on the Times Square guide page.
4/ Meatpacking District (Manhattan)
The Meatpacking District is still struggling to shake off its reputation as a cut-throat and drug supermarket. Today’s Meatpacking District, however, has little to do with the neighborhood it was in the 1980s, and I’m frankly surprised to see this neighborhood still at the top of the NYPD statistics.
You will find that during the day the neighborhood is very peaceful and safe.
5/ Koreatown (Manhattan)
Close to the Empire State building, this district suffers from a sulphurous reputation. During the day, you really don’t have much to fear, and in the evening, just stay in the well-lit arteries. I admit that I am also very surprised to see this district in 5th position in the ranking.
6/ Port Morris (Bronx)
This neighborhood in the south of the Bronx is the 6th most dangerous neighborhood in New York. And unlike Times Square, Meatpacking District and Koreatown, the crimes there are much more violent this time around. On May 11, 2016, the New York police carried out a major operation to arrest the members of a gang specializing in drug trafficking. But this kind of gang is reconstituted so quickly… Port Morris does not have anything tourist anyway and I advise you to leave it aside.
4/ Garment District (Manhattan)
Bounded by 6th Avenue in the East, 9th Avenue in the West, 34th Street in the South and 40th Street in the North, the Garment District is not a dangerous neighborhood strictly speaking, on the contrary! During the day, the neighborhood is very lively and 8th Avenue very pleasant. What drives the Garment District up in New York Police statistics is the area around the Port Authority bus terminal, north of the neighborhood. Like Châtelet-les-Halles in Paris, this large terminal is not the friendliest place in New York, especially at night. But except to look for trouble with the homeless and other petty traffickers, you will have no problem in this neighborhood.
8/ Greenwood Heights (Brooklyn)
Known for Greenwood Cemetery, Greenwood Heights ranks high because of burglaries and car thefts. For the rest, you will not feel in danger in this district. I obviously advise against walking there at night. At night, Greenwood Heights has no interest anyway.
9/ Hunts Point (Bronx)
East of Port Morris, Hunts Point is a neighborhood to avoid. Again, crimes and misdemeanors tend to be linked to gangs and drugs. Hunts Point is of no interest from a tourist point of view.
10/ East New York (Brooklyn)
This district not far from JFK airport is regularly in the news for drug trafficking. New York Police arrested 6 people in April 2016 and it’s not the coolest neighborhood in New York. But you have very little chance of passing there, even to reach Manhattan because even the freeways avoid it.
11/ Ocean Hill (Brooklyn)
In the heart of Brooklyn, Ocean Hill has a very bad reputation. There is nothing touristy about this area and you don’t need to venture there.
12/ Union Square (Manhattan)
Like Times Square, Union Square is ranked among the highest crime rates in New York because of numerous thefts and other petty theft. You will feel perfectly safe in Union Square, but you just need to watch your belongings and not tempt the pickpockets who may operate.
The 8 districts which end this list have no tourist interest. For some of them, I’ve never even heard of it! You can therefore largely forget about them!
13/ Fort Greene (Brooklyn)
14/ Brownsville (Brooklyn)
15/ Bronx River (Bronx)
16/ Navy Hill (Brooklyn)
17/ Mount Eden (Bronx)
18/ Longwood (Bronx)
19/ Mott Haven (Bronx)
20/ Fordham (Bronx)
Finally, note that Harlem and certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn, such as Bedford-Stuyvesant or Bushwick, are no longer on the list of the 20 most dangerous neighborhoods in New York. As in all cities, neighborhoods are changing, as is the case with Harlem, which is increasingly popular. This is also the case with Bushwick, which is even the subject of a 3h30 visit with French guides, for fans of hip-hop culture and graffiti.
And apart from the few neighborhoods mentioned above, you will see that New York is an overall safe city, just like Paris. But an informed tourist is worth two!