"Chicago" by Carl Sandburg

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders

-excerpt from the poem "Chicago" by Carl Sandburg (1916)

Chicago Skyline

Chicago Skyline
The Chicago Skyline from a Near West Side highrise

Friday, August 31, 2012

Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in Chicago/America 2012

A little over a year ago, we did an entry on the Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in Chicago based on data from Neighborhood Scout.  This is a follow-up to that entry, reflecting an article from DailyFinance based on 2012 data from Neighborhood Scout.  Once again, the data reflects your odds of becoming a victim of violent crime on those particular streets within the past year.

As in the previous entry, Chicago doesn't fare very well.  Although it no longer has the "worst" neighborhood in America for violent crime, it has the second-worst, along with three others in the Top 25.  No other city has more than two on this list.  That's not to say the data isn't interesting, but it's also not earth-shattering.  For starters, the two "neighborhoods" that appeared on the previous list do not appear on this one.  Also, the four "neighborhoods" that appear on this list are clustered closely together.

This leads to the debate as to what exactly is a neighborhood, based on this study.  They are not four of the officially designated community areas of the city (all four on this list are MUCH smaller than community areas), and they are not really informally designated neighborhoods.  It clearly appears that it is just a tiny slice of the city, usually quadrilateral, selected by its particularly high presence of crime. So, to see which neighborhoods made the list...

The 2nd Most Dangerous Neighborhood in the United States
Community Area: Washington Park

North Boundary: 51st St.

South Boundary: Garfield Blvd. (55th St.)

East Boundary: State St.

West Boundary: Rail Tracks west of Federal St.

Predicted Annual Violent Crimes: 275
(appx. 5 per week)

Odds of Becoming a Victim: 1 in 4
(citywide: 1 in 94)

The 19th Most Dangerous Neighborhood in the United States
Community Area: Englewood

North Boundary: 63rd St.

South Boundary: Marquette Rd. (67th St.)

East Boundary: Wentworth Ave.

West Boundary: Halsted St.

Predicted Annual Violent Crimes: 527
(appx. 10 per week)

Odds of Becoming a Victim: 1 in 9
(citywide: 1 in 94)

The 24th Most Dangerous Neighborhood in the United States
Community Area: Englewood

North Boundary: Garfield Blvd. (55th St.)

South Boundary: 59th St.

East Boundary: Rail Tracks east of Lowe Ave.

West Boundary: Halsted St.

Predicted Annual Violent Crimes: 125
(appx. 2-3 per week)

Odds of Becoming a Victim: 1 in 9
(citywide: 1 in 94)

The 25th Most Dangerous Neighborhood in the United States
Community Area: West Englewood

North Boundary: 59th St.

South Boundary: 63rd St.

East Boundary: Wood St.

West Boundary: Damen Ave.

Predicted Annual Violent Crimes: 234
(4-5 per week)

Odds of Becoming a Victim: 1 in 10
(citywide: 1 in 94)

With the uptick in crime in Chicago compared to last year, and then seeing the Windy City place four on this list when no other city placed more than two, this can seem a little disconcerting.  However, looking at the past 20 years (and even back further), crime has declined precipitously in Chicago, as in most other major cities across the country.  It is yet to be seen if this year so far has been a blip on the radar, and hindsight will be much more revealing than what we now know.  The increase has been attached to multiple theories, notably a remarkably hot summer, splintered gangs at war, and ineffective police tactics.  A few other things worth noting from this data:
  • Many people have a negative connotation about the south side.  But while all four "neighborhoods" on this list are on the south side, geographically they make up only a small portion of it.  Some of the city's safest neighborhoods are on the south side, notably Bridgeport, Mount Greenwood, and Midway (Garfield Ridge/Clearing).
  • Englewood already had a bad enough reputation, and this will help solidify that.  Two of the four (and three if you lump in West Englewood) are in Chicago's most notorious neighborhood. 
  • However, looking at the map below, you'll see that the four "neighborhoods" on this list are bunched very closely together.  What if they had been combined into one larger area?  I'm still curious as to how the boundary lines were drawn up since the sizes and populations of the "neighborhoods" vary greatly across the list.
  • What happened to the "neighborhoods" from the last list?  Would be curious as to their level of improvement.  Or are they not included since they've already appeared on a previous list?
As always, if you find yourself in one of these neighborhoods (or any other "dangerous" neighborhood), common sense goes a long way.  If you stick to major roads and avoid looking for trouble, chances are really good you'll avoid incident.  Lastly, some of Chicago's roughest neighborhoods have some of its most incredible cultural experiences.  Without naming places at this point, don't avoid them just because of the neighborhood's reputation.  Taking precautions such as a vehicle (car, taxi, hovercraft, etc.) to get you from door-to-door will greatly reduce your exposure to crime and better allow you to enjoy a potentially wonderful experience.

Chicago's "most dangerous neighborhoods" in terms of proximity from the Loop (in blue).


  1. Thank you for this very useful information. Hopefully it will help lead to other adoptions.
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  2. this is extrmely sad about englewood is was the main part of chicago that was voted as beeing horrible.

  3. i agree with Hassan Ashraf as this beeing very useful information i could use this website next time for some information that i really do ned to look up.

  4. This article has multiple issues.

    First, and most obviously, it takes a defensive tone about the empirical data, that shows that these neighborhoods have high incidence of violent crimes. That's a fact. And there's no need to be defensive about the facts.

    Second: "If you stick to major roads and avoid looking for trouble, chances are really good you'll avoid incident." Chances? People shouldn't have to gamble with their own well-being. And the rationale that "if" you do (or do not do) something , you will "avoid" being victimized hints at a blame-the-victim mentality. Which is bullshit.

    Third: "some of Chicago's roughest neighborhoods have some of its most incredible cultural experiences ... a potentially wonderful experience." Again, this is somewhat defensive in tone, as though the writer just can't face the fact that Chicago is full of crime. Whether the neighborhoods in question offer "incredible cultural experiences" is incredibly subjective.

    The fact is, Chicago is very—very—high in crime such as rape and murder, and no amount of inexpensive ethnic food or highly-publicized parades can make up for that.

  5. Thank you both Hassan and Maggie for your readership and feedback. We really appreciate your support!

    Anonymous, we also appreciate any and all feedback that we get, even if it's not particularly favorable to us. Yes, our tone was slightly defensive, as we want to shed the light on the fact that articles such as the one we referenced (while helpful in some regards) do not paint a complete picture of a place.

    Data, believe it or not, can be very interpretive. Case in point, Roosevelt & Canal is one of the most "dangerous" intersections in Chicago (chicagoist.com/2012/04/30/most_dangerous_intersections.php), yet I don't think anyone would recommend avoiding the White Palace Grill strictly on the basis that you might get in an auto accident or be run over if you cross those streets.

    We often forget, in looking at the numbers, that these neighborhoods are made up mostly of people who aren't criminals, who are just trying to make it like the rest of us. Unfortunately, they are your typical victims in these neighborhoods, not someone coming to see the Englewood Film Festival (www.facebook.com/EnglewoodFilmFestivalDonationPage), or visiting Washington Park, or taking a class at Kennedy-King.

    And frankly, owners of ethnic food restaurants, and people who put on parades in "dangerous" neighborhoods need support too, not just those in the safer, high-income neighborhoods. Yes, you are absolutely correct that Chicago is struggling with crime in may places, as the data undoubtedly suggests. And yes, to blame a victim of a crime is certainly "bullshit", but is in by no means what is hinted at by the statement. It's simply a suggestion to remain cautious and sensible. But I think to use the data as a "STAY AWAY" piece is by no means telling the entire story and we felt it was important to share another possible angle.

  6. The problem with Chicago: Black P. Stone is trying to build a Positive Pyramid for the People and the Government rather see poor people die in the gutter than help an enlightened idea from the hood. The White House has nothing but corruption & lies to offer the world, and would rather sink the entire Nation then give REAL BLACK People representation to help cure our community. Vote Pyramid...

  7. The whole city of Chicago is a shithole...its too bad that someone can't enjoy the area parks without fear of being robbed or killed. The cities mayor doesn't even seem to care ...

  8. @Anonymous on November 16, 2013 - The whole city of Chicago is >>not<< a shithole. Of course, I don't know where you've been lurking or spending your time, but the majority of Chicago is actually quite nice. If you want to go to a shithole, try New York.

  9. @Anonymous on November 16, 2013- I am from the south side of Chicago, Englewood to be exact! The people in that neighborhood look out for their own! Its dumb ass dickheads like you, who are on the outside looking in that give these neighborhoods a bad name! You are one of the few people that would get his/her ass robbed and beat the fuck up if you were ever walking down the street! No one every looks at the fact that the police are killing people and getting away with it! The police are the cause of 50% of the crime in these neighborhoods, that's why they get shot at all the time.

    1. Are you serious? - the people who reported the statistics are giving "these neighborhoods a bad name?" I went to Englewood just a couple of days ago and couldn't walk more than 2 blocks. Yes, I am white and I did stick out.. Tell you the truth, I probably looked lost but I can't even fully describe the looks that I got from people in the community. They looked at me with disgust and hatred.. It seemed that they wanted to kill me and I was scared. On the positive side, I did see families with young children and young women walking on the street. So, I will admit that it is safe to walk during the day if you are black.

    2. To the idiot from Englewood; first,I feel sorry for you...because you live in such a shithole,but mostly because you think you own the fuckin place and {take care of your own}! If that is how you "take care of your own", I really hate to see how you take care of your kids,your home,your life in general.....pathetic...to say the least! UNREAL


  11. So, what is the most dangerous neighborhood?

  12. Super helpful information. Thanks for taking the time to make this post. I am moving to Chicago in the oswego area. http://www.drhorton.com/Illinois/Chicago/Oswego/Cambridge-At-Southbury.aspx
    is that a good area? I love the house i found and really want it, but safety is a concern all the time. thanks

  13. I have to say that I like to listen to Chicago PD and FD on the online scanner apps. Lots of action like shootings and stabbing every 10 minutes or so.

  14. Englewood! So sad, I love Chicago and have found some safe areas, unfortunately there are areas that everyone should really avoid and Englewood is up there. check https://chicagoagentmagazine.com/current-issue/vol-11-2014/2014-fall-new-construction-status-update/ for some great areas.