Illinois : Safety by City
- Arlington Heights
- Crystal Lake
- Des Plaines
- East St Louis
- Fairview Heights
- Granite City
- Mount Prospect
- Oak Lawn
- Rock Island
- Tinley Park
Granite City, Illinois, looks like a manufacturing town when you see the steel factory on the skyline, but there’s also a small suburban town here in the Metro East area of St. Louis, Missouri.
It’s not just an industrial area.
You might wonder why a steel town is named after a rock?
When the city was founded in the late 1800s, there was a new steel-coating technique that resembled granite and its popularity soared.
Thus, “Granite City” was born.
Granite city has a special place in this writer’s heart.
My first job ever at 16-years old was for a clothing company named Glik’s that still operates in Granite City to this day.
At the time, I had the largest sale ever recorded in the company’s 100-year history.
This is also where my niece lived with her dad, so I spent some time visiting this city, which is truly a slice of Americana.
Tourists won’t find hotels within the city, but there are a few on the fringe areas of the city along Highway 111 near Pontoon Beach.
You can also find hotels in nearby Collinsville.
You also aren’t going to find a lot of tourist attractions within the city.
Aside from a speedway, views of the Mississippi River, and local parks, you’re going to be quite bored if you just stick to Granite City.
There are a lot of things to do in the St. Louis Metro area.
Warnings & Dangers in Granite City
OVERALL RISK : LOW
There's a low risk in Granite City, but I'm going to put an asterisk next to the violent crime category, because that is quite high - more than double the national average. Honestly, depending on which neighborhood you are in, this could be either low risk or medium risk. Residents generally believe that it gets a bad reputation for a city that only has crime in certain key areas.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Here you can use St. Louis' Metro transportation system to get around the entire area, or you can choose Madison County Transit for bus service just around Madison County, Illinois. Taxis and rideshares are readily available. There's low risk with any option, but when riding the Metro be sure to keep aware of your surroundings and some of the stops in the St. Louis area might have a much higher safety risk.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
The theft rate here is actually lower than the national average. Not by much, but enough that there's a low risk of being pickpocketed. Unfortunately, with the high violent crime rate, this means there might be more of a chance someone will take something by force instead of manipulation.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Flooding is a big concern here and you can search for videos online to see incredible videos of floods that have happened in the past. Certain roads will always flood during heavy rain. You can also expect severe thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes during the spring, summer, and fall. Winters will likely come with snowstorms and some ice storms. Given the risk throughout all seasons, there's a medium risk here. You should be prepared with working knowledge of weather safety before you go.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
The robbery rate is at the national average, so there's not an overwhelming risk. We can call it a low risk if you promise to never fight back if you do face a robbery. There's a one in 1277 chance of being a robbery victim here, but if that escalates to an aggravated assault, that's one of the key areas driving up the violent crime rate.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
Being part of a major metropolitan area puts it at medium risk. Terrorists are always looking to target large population centers. You can review the Illinois Task Force Plan to see how to stay vigilant while visiting Granite City.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
There are scams targeted at homeowners here, as a lot of homes here were built in the 1950s or 1960s, and are in need of work. There are also utility scams and some cryptocurrency scams. As a tourist, you face a low risk of it happening to you. Nearly 20% of this community lives in poverty, so you might be panhandled while you're here.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
There are some parts of town to avoid if you are a woman, and you don't want to be driving around lost at night. The sexual assault risk is twice the national average. As a woman who spent time in this city with her elderly mom, I can tell you during the day you don't have a sense of danger. However, given the crime rates, we're going to stick with a medium risk to help punctuate that you can't let your guard down here.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The water here is safe and low risk. The utility company invested nearly $200 million in water quality treatment facilities in 2021, so the water is safer than ever. You should watch for boil orders if flash flooding occurs during your visit.
Safest Places to Visit in Granite City
Normally, I’m pretty insistent in these articles to stick with attractions only within the named city because we have such an in-depth look at other communities on this website.
However, Granite City doesn’t have a lot to do in the city limits, so we’re going to have to venture a short drive away for a few of these.
Tri-City Speedway is one of the main draws to Granite City for visitors.
The dirt track is newly renovated and the website shows a bunch of upcoming activities.
Be sure to book your tickets well in advance if you can so you don’t risk a sell-out at this smaller race track.
Horseshoe Lake is a great place to visit during the warmer months (or in the winter if you are so inclined).
With nearly 3000 acres, you can fish, hunt, geocache, camp, or go boating.
There are more than a dozen parks in Granite City, an ice rink, and a swimming pool.
Residents get a discount on the facilities, but tourists are welcome with an extra charge.
There’s a park right on the river by the old Chain of Rocks Bridge that gives stunning views of the mighty Mississippi River and the St. Louis skyline.
Definitely worth an Instagram photo, but be sure to visit during the day.
Cahokia Mounds is worth the 15-minute drive to see one of the most advanced pre-historic cities known to man.
Start at the interpretive center, which is newly renovated to understand what exactly you’re seeing at the mound site.
Otherwise, it might just look like some random hills.
St. Louis Arch is just 20 minutes away and I’d recommend taking one of the bridges that cross right into downtown St. Louis.
Driving over the Chain of Rocks or McKinley Bridge not only takes longer, but it also doesn’t take you through the safest St. Louis area.
Places to Avoid in Granite City
The closer you are to Pontoon Beach on the east side of the city, the safer you’ll be.
The south and southwest sides of the city have the highest crime rates and those are neighborhoods I wouldn’t even drive through if you don’t know anyone who lives there.
Stay on main surface streets and highways instead of cutting through neighborhoods.
Granite City is highly residential and industrial.
It doesn’t look like much when you’re there.
It’s a typical town with average home values of less than $100,000.
If you’re looking for a place to stay that is close to St. Louis, but with some breathing room, there are better communities that are more tailored to the tourist experience nearby, like Collinsville or Edwardsville.
Pontoon Beach is a great small town as well, but there’s not a whole lot to do there either unless you like the outdoors.
Avoid calling Illinois “Ill-in-noise”.
If you’ve read any of my other articles about Illinois you’ve already seen this, but I can’t punctuate enough how much it drives locals crazy.
It’s pronounced “Ill-in-noy.”
The “S” is silent.
While we’re here, it’s also called “Mizz-our-eee” not “Mizz-our-uh.”
Safety Tips for Traveling to Granite City
- The Granite City Police Department offers an interactive crime map in the community. You can search for an address and see the types of crimes that happened in that area. You can also control the data range for the search because all I can offer right now is the official 2020 data reported to the FBI. The 2021 data isn’t available because 60% of law enforcement agencies in the country didn’t respond to the request.
- I think you can always tell what crimes are more likely to happen in a city by the specific crime safety tips given by the police department. Let’s go through a few from Granite City, starting with ATM usage. If you need cash, it’s always preferred to go into a bank and make a withdrawal. You can also use an ATM inside a bank when available. If you have to get cash at night, be sure to avoid any place where there is a streetlight out or people loitering around. Protect your PIN like it’s the nuclear code. People can take pictures from clear across a street and zoom in to see your number.
- If you see graffiti, report it immediately to the non-emergency number of the police department, which is (618) 877-6111. Graffiti can be a sign of gang activity and Granite City wants it cleaned up as soon as possible. Never interrupt a tagger for your own safety. Just call the police.
- If you are riding public transportation, especially at night, sit as close to the driver as possible. Don’t wear headphones that can distract you from things happening around you. Keep your belongings close and secured. I like to loop my purse through the belt holes on my jeans when I’m riding a bus or train.
- Like most cities, Granite City faces problems with opioid addiction. The Granite City Police Department states, “Many purse snatches are committed solely to finance narcotic addictions.” This is another reason to avoid carrying around large amounts of cash.
- You should always hang in well-lit areas as close to people as possible. The more people that are around, the less likely a thief will risk being seen. You should never leave a car unlocked or the windows rolled down when parked. Don’t leave anything in the vehicle. You might be surprised that even a GPS stand could be something a thief would want. If you are renting a car, take pictures of the vehicle, the VIN, and the license plate, just in case of a theft. You’ll be able to give detailed information to the police about a car that’s otherwise unfamiliar to you.
- Anglers and hunters need a license here and you can’t just use the license you have from home. You need to get the proper license from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. There are different seasons for different activities that might not be consistent with your home state or country.
- Recreational marijuana is now legal in Illinois with a number of rules that come along with it. You can’t just openly use marijuana. You can only use it in a private residence where there are no children around. The owner must approve of the use as well. There are even strict rules about how you can carry it in your car. Be sure to study this before buying any if you choose to do so.
- Sign up for Nixle.com alerts from the emergency services in Granite City. I’ve used this website and app for years and it’s great information to know what’s happening in the community.
- Follow @NWSStLouis on Twitter to get updated weather information. With the city being so prone to flooding and at risk for severe weather throughout the year, this is a great way to stay on top of what’s happening.
So... How Safe Is Granite City Really?
The violent crime rate is the real concern here.
In 2020, violent crime broke down like this:
- Homicides: 2
- Rape: 25
- Robbery: 20
- Aggravated Assault: 171
There is a real problem in Illinois with increased gun violence.
The problem has reached the highest level of law enforcement for support and crime protection.
In May 2022, the U.S. Marshalls targeted a crime bust in Madison and St. Clair Counties, which includes Granite City, to arrest 153 violent crime suspects and confiscated more than 60 illegal weapons.
Granite City is just an older town that hasn’t evolved much throughout the years.
In fact, the population keeps going down.
Unless you are here visiting family or friends, you don’t really have a lure to stay in Granite City.
It’s not totally safe, but it’s also not completely dangerous.
It’s just an average city with an above-average amount of violent crime.
You won’t find stately homes here or big tourist attractions, but there are plenty of them within a 30-minute drive of the St. Louis Metro Area.
How Does Granite City Compare?
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- Visas - You'll just need to show your Visa at the airport before you can get through Customs. After that, you'll use your passport as a legal ID.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. It's wise to use a mobile pay app or credit card for all purchases and keep cash to a minimum.
- Weather - Prepare properly for all four seasons. There isn't always snow on the ground in winter, but bring winter boots just in case. The summers are going to be hot and humid, with an occasional cool spell. Bringing layers of clothing is always ideal. You'll want bug spray, too, because mosquitoes can be intense this close to the river and the lake.
- Airports - St. Louis's Lambert Field is about 20 minutes away. It's the largest airport in the area. There's also MidAmerica Airport, which is 30 minutes southeast, but Lambert is the best option in my opinion. St. Louis is my hometown and I've never used MidAmerica because Lambert is just so convenient.
- Travel Insurance - You should get travel insurance due to the extreme weather that can happen here and the crime risks that come with a trip to Granite City, Illinois.
Granite City Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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