Connecticut : Safety by City
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Hamden, Connecticut, is the “Land of the Sleeping Giant” and home to one of the most haunted roads in the country.
That’s quite impressive for this diverse city of 61,000 people who might otherwise get a little bored with suburban life.
But seriously, this town has a lot of history, folklore, and future potential.
It’s home to Quinnipiac University and considered a suburb of the larger city of New Haven to its south.
The city has several museums that bring awareness to different cultures from around the world, parks are abundant in the wilderness surrounding the city, and you are less than 30 minutes to the beach.
You can also learn about Eli Whitney (remember him from history class in high school?) who invented the cotton gin and went on to forever influence how we manufacture goods in America.
There’s a museum here bearing his name.
The “Sleeping Giant” reference comes from the hills on the north side of the city that sort of look like a giant lying down sleeping.
There’s also a stone observation tower at the top that gives breathtaking 360° views of the region.
This is a diverse and inclusive community for those thinking that all of Connecticut is in a caste system.
53% of the community is Caucasian, 26% are African American, 12% are Latino or Hispanic, and 5% are Asian.
You have the quiet of the suburbs, a college town vibe, with a bigger city close by, incredible outdoor adventures, and the beach just a short drive away.
What else could you want on a vacation getaway?
Warnings & Dangers in Hamden
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low overall risk but there is an edge to this community. It's not the safest city in the state, but when you really dig into the crime numbers you see some perspective on why certain categories are higher and what you can do to avoid being a victim.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
The public bus system is the Connection Transit New Haven line. You can also get taxis and rideshares here. There's low risk with any option, but having a car is preferred, so you can explore more parts of the city.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
There's a greater risk of getting a purse snatched than being pickpocketed. Six purse snatchings were reported in 2020 with an average cost of $52 per crime. Just one pickpocket was reported. While the overall theft rate is much higher than the national and state average, there's still a low risk. Seven crimes in a city of 61,000 people aren't too concerning.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
People here will tell you of the devastating tornados of 1989 across its region, but that's a rare occurrence. You'll get thunderstorms and a possible tornado in the warmer months, and you've got to expect snow in the winter with the occasional blizzard and snow emergency. None of this rises to a huge risk of a natural disaster, so we'll call it a low risk, but be prepared by studying the emergency management section of the city's website.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
There's low risk in Hamden. 22 of the 72 robberies reported were in public and the average take was $30. You should never fight for your belongings when a weapon is being used against you. On the off chance it does happen to you, try to remember as much as you can about the suspect so you can be a good witness afterward.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk just because of how close this area is to New York City. While Hamden itself isn't a hard target, there might be residual impacts if a terror attack happens in NYC. Terrorists like high population areas, so this entire northeastern corridor is going to be a medium risk.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
There's a recent warning from police of the five most common telephone scams, but it's geared toward locals and none of them is particular to just Hamden. There's a low risk here.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
There's a low risk for women traveling here, but with crime numbers being about average compared to national numbers, it's certainly not a place to let your guard down. You should also use caution at night, as you would in any city. Don't walk around alone or wander into neighborhoods you aren't familiar with.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2020 Annual Water Quality Report from the Regional Water Authority shows that all tests exceeded state and federal requirements, giving tap water a low risk in Hamden.
Safest Places to Visit in Hamden
Sleeping Giant State Park is among the top three things to do when visiting Hamden.
The admission price is going to cost you up to $15 for non-residents, but you’ve got a world of wonder ahead of you after you park.
There’s hiking, fishing, natural trails galore, picnic areas, and the best view from a lookout tower you can get in Connecticut.
The Eli Whitney Museum is a great place to enjoy learning about the industry-changing inventions Whitney made right here in Hamden, using the power of the river to fuel the first American factory more than 200 years ago (1798, to be exact).
On the campus of Quinnipiac (“kwi·nuh·pee·ak”) University, which is a sight to see in itself, is Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, documenting through art the Irish Famine that started in 1845.
On the other side of town, you have the Palestine Museum to explore with an inclusive experience to learn about the history and achievements of the Palestinian culture.
You can read more about the experience in nearby New Haven in our article “How Safe is New Haven for Travel?”.
Places to Avoid in Hamden
Crime maps show the highest crime levels are near the city line where it meets New Haven, between Whitney Avenue and Wilbur Cross Parkway.
The area south of Wilbur Cross Parkway as it runs through the city also has higher crime areas.
It’s not uncommon in larger cities to have more crime along the freeway, so that’s not really a shocking point.
Here’s something I don’t know if you want to avoid or not, but I’ll just give you the facts.
There’s a place called Downs Road that once ran from Hamden to Bethany.
About two decades ago, a certain stretch of the road was abandoned and blocked off to road traffic.
However, people still wander into this empty wilderness that gives off the eerie vibe of the Blair Witch.
There have been reports of screams heard deep in the forest, a sense of someone watching, apparitions of children, an albino horse, and a Yeti-like version of a monster.
Visit if you dare, but you’re supposed to get a permit before you go.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Hamden
- Wilber Cross Parkway and “The Merritt” are the same road. People in Hamden will call it “The Merritt”, as it’s named in other parts of Connecticut, but the name changes in Hamden. Just know it’s the same road so you don’t get confused looking for Merritt Parkway, which technically isn’t on a map in Hamden.
- There’s a community crime map on the Hamden Police Department website so you can learn more about crime happening closer to your time of visit. You can select hyper-local areas, and search by date and type of crime.
- If you have information on a crime while visiting Hamden, you can download the Tip 411 app. All tips are anonymous unless you want to leave your contact information.
- There’s also another app to download called CT Alert. This will keep you notified of water emergencies, severe weather approaching, road closures, and civil issues.
- The city of Hamden has a ban on plastic bags, so you can bring your own bags when you visit a store or take-home food from a restaurant. You do have the option of a paper bag as well.
- As another environmentally-friendly effort, no straws will be given out at restaurants or bars unless a customer specifically asks for one.
- If you’re going fishing during your stay in Connecticut, you’ll need a fishing license from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. It is easy to get online ahead of time and you can just save the license on your phone. Be sure you get the right license for the type of water you’ll be fishing in or opt for the “all waters” license.
- Don’t text and drive. That’s not just advice, it’s the law. The Hamden Police are cracking down after 5000 crashes were attributed to distracted driving in 2020. You cannot use a hand-held mobile device while driving. Drivers under 18 aren’t allowed to use any kind of hands-free technology.
- While Hamden is such a quaint city in appearance, you need to remember there is an element of crime here. In March of 2022, an elderly woman was putting bags of purchased items in her car when three people attacked her and took off in the car. Always be aware of your surroundings when in parking lot areas and try to always park where you can see a security camera if possible.
- One of the biggest city complaints is near Quinnipiac University, where students rent housing and throw loud parties. If you are renting or staying in that area, just know it might be a little louder than you might want on a vacation. There are only two hotels in Hamden (but plenty in nearby New Haven), so renting a home for vacation is more likely in this town.
So... How Safe Is Hamden Really?
The crime rates here are higher than the Connecticut average in just about every category, including personal and property crime, which is both about 45% higher.
Comparing violent crime to the national average, Hamden is just under the national average.
With 312 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
The national average is 399 per 100,000.
Some of the crimes tell a different story when you break them down.
Let’s look at theft.
There were 1105 thefts in 2020, giving it a rating 23% higher than the national average.
This is a one in 55 risks of being a theft victim.
Now let’s take out the shoplifting thefts, which aren’t going to be a tourist risk.
Now we’re at a one in 97 risks.
Now let’s assume you’ve locked up the car, left the windows rolled up, and don’t have any valuables in the car.
We will subtract all the thefts involved in car break-ins.
Now we’re at a one in 239 risks.
I like to break these numbers down for you so you can see that part of the risk when traveling is highly dependent on how safe you are.
There’s an overall one in 320 risks of being a victim of a violent crime.
However, data shows that just 21 of the violent crimes were against strangers.
Now there’s a one in 2912 chance it will happen to you.
This is an average suburb with average amounts of crime connected to a larger metro area with a crime of its own.
It’s not overly dangerous, but do not let your guard down in Hamden.
How Does Hamden Compare?
|Hong Kong (China)
The Visa process is handled when you go through customs at the airport or port of entry. You won't need to go through processing in each state or city.
You can only use the U.S Dollar here. You should check ahead of time to see if your preferred attractions can be booked online and if there is a higher cost for a non-resident, as many Connecticut attractions do have tiers of admission prices.
There are all four seasons in Hamden, so pack accordingly. You'll need thick, warm winter clothing as it does get bitterly cold here at times. If you're going to be exploring the Sleeping Giant, bring sturdy hiking boots, but break them in before you go so you don't get blisters. Summers are warm during the day but you'll still want a jacket or shawl for the cool evening temperatures.
The Tweed New Haven Airport is 13 miles away and it's the most convenient option. The Hartford airport is also pretty close, at 31 miles north.
It's a good plan to get travel insurance for a trip to Hamden with all the potential weather risks, especially in the winter.
Hamden Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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Connecticut - Safety by City