New York : Safety by City
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New York City, New York, hardly needs an introduction, but I’ll do my best.
This dynamic metropolis is a cultural, fashion, and food melting pot with big businesses and even bigger penthouse homes.
NYC has five boroughs that each bring their own swagger to this incredible city.
Even within the boroughs, there are distinct districts to explore.
*NOTE: Not a full list.
- The Bronx
- South Bronx
- City Island
- Brighton Beach
- Prospect Heights
- Greenwich Village
- Little Italy
- Lower Manhatten
- Hell’s Kitchen
- Upper East Side
- Central Park
- Jackson Heights
- The Rockaways
- Staten Island
- South Beach
- Midland Beach
- Richmond Town
- St. George
With so many options, where’s a tourist to start?
You’ve found the right place if you’re wondering “Is New York City safe?”
We will explore all the top safety advice and the best neighborhoods to explore.
The city has nearly nine million people, so you’ll need to prepare for large crowds, urban noise, and activity all night long.
For those looking for a quieter part of the city, Staten Island is the place to be.
If you want to be close to the main attractions, Manhattan is for you.
When you’re looking for a hotel to stay in, check out the NYPD Comp Stat Report on its website.
This shows each borough broken down into subsections and you can see the weekly, monthly, or year-to-date crime levels for major crimes and the percentage of increase or decrease.
Warnings & Dangers in New York City
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium overall risk and some high-risk areas you'll likely not go to anyway as a tourist. As far as big cities go, New York is safer than places like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit, but there's still plenty of danger in a city with nearly nine million people. You cannot take personal safety lightly here at all, but you also shouldn't be scared to visit one of the most dynamic places on earth.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
MTA is the public transportation system here, and buses or subways are on almost every corner of the city. In 2022, there was a 41% increase in crimes on public transportation, causing some concerns for even local users. Some high-profile cases made it seem more dangerous than it is. If you do ride the subway or bus, stay as close to the driver or conductor as you can. Try to use the system during the day and avoid empty subway cars. There's safety in numbers. Homeless people can live on the trains, so keep your distance and stick to other people who seem confident and comfortable on the ride. Taxis are everywhere, but be sure you get a MARKED cab. Never get in one that isn't a marked and licensed cab. Rideshares are also available but aren't regulated as much as taxis. Rental cars are available, but the parking costs will be high.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : HIGH
The nearly 3,000 pickpockets and purse snatchings reported might be intimidating, but remember, this is a city of almost nine million people. Is there a high risk of being pickpocketed? Yes. Can you take smart steps to avoid it? Absolutely. Put nothing in your back pocket. 2500 of those thefts were actual pickpockets, so you're more likely to lose a wallet than have a purse stolen. Carry the bare minimum with you and if you do carry a purse, make sure it's a crossbody version.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Winters can be brutal in New York with bitter cold and heavy snow, but there's not always going to be snow on the ground. Hurricane season from June through November can cause problems, but you'll have plenty of notice if a tropical storm or hurricane is approaching. Severe thunderstorms and the occasional tornado are possible.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here, and you can lower that risk by staying out of dangerous parts of town or less traveled areas at night. Don't walk through Central Park at night. Even the Financial District dies down after dark, leaving more criminals than safe spaces at times. If you feel like someone might be following you or about to corner you - run - as fast as possible and duck into the first business you see. If you are confronted, follow instructions and remember as much as you can. Call 911 as soon as the robbery leaves.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
New York City has faced the worst of terrorist attacks and is still a proud and prosperous city. You can bet every law enforcement officer from the local level to the head of Homeland Security is making darn sure it doesn't happen again. It is critical for you to stay vigilant and report anything suspicious.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
Scammers are always looking for a target on the streets of New York. Do your best to blend in and look like you belong there. Watch out for anyone who approaches you with a plea for help or a generous offer. Don't talk to anyone you don't know; just firmly say "No Thanks" and keep moving. NEVER stop. Avoid panhandlers, and don't pause. They might follow or become aggressive with people they think are on the verge of helping. This isn't scary - it's just part of being in a big city. Also, those people dressed like superheroes in Times Square? Don't tip them. They are just regular people who put on a costume and hope to get some of your hard-earned vacation money.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
The sexual assault rate is actually quite low compared to other large cities. You still need to treat every neighborhood, every turn on every corner, and every crowd like there's medium risk. Don't walk around alone at night. Pay for the cab fare or ask a friend to pay for your Uber. Keep your mobile device charged in case you need it for emergencies.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The 2021 Water Quality Report is an easy-to-read breakdown of how water gets cleaned in New York City. Water is sampled more than three million times yearly from various entry points. The only violation reported happened during tropical storms, which should encourage you to check water quality anyway.
Safest Places to Visit in New York City
The official tourism website for New York City is nycgo.com.
This will give you the latest information from the convention and visitors authority and every group that is dedicated to giving accurate and timely information to tourists.
To get official information about tourism across New York state, go to iloveny.com.
For those who want to “be a part of it” and limit the use of public transportation, you can’t go wrong in Times Square.
The large crowds might seem intimidating, but it’s also a key draw for tourists.
You’ll see plenty of police officers and tourists, so you won’t feel like you are standing out in a crowd.
While you still need to watch out for pickpockets and scammers, you can feel pretty safe here.
Central Park is a safe place to visit during the day, but you need to know the layout of the park.
It can be easy to get turned around as this park is 840 acres large.
While you might see homeless people and shady characters, keep your focus on your surroundings, and don’t wear headphones or earbuds here.
You’ll lose the critical sense of noise around you and might appear to be distracted, which is just what criminals want to see.
The Brooklyn Bridge is another relatively safe attraction – and free as well!
The bridge has incredible security and surveillance and is used day and night.
If it’s a nice day, you might even be part of a very large crowd using it.
An average of 30,000 people cross the bridge each day.
There are also parks and attractions at each end of the bridge, so you’ll be doing more than just crossing the bridge.
You can visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in Lower Manhattan and the area has strong security and surveillance.
Of course, you want to respect the space and avoid any humor or loud conversations as others might be mourning the loss of loved ones.
The One World Observatory is the tallest building in New York, but it’s otherwise known as Freedom Tower.
This includes the Global Welcome Center and a history tour on the ride up in less than one minute.
You’ll get 360-degree views of New York City and all the boroughs.
It’s a good idea to review all of the boroughs and explore the distinct vibe of each neighborhood to see which one suits your tastes.
Be sure you know:
- Does it require public transportation to get there?
- What are the CompStat crime rates for the past month?
- Is it safe to visit day and night?
- What are the newest attractions in these areas? (Your concierge or the New York City Welcome Center could help with this.)
Places to Avoid in New York City
This is one of the hardest questions to answer because you’ll find information touting the South Bronx as the safest place to visit and then other information saying it’s a place to avoid at all costs.
Areas of New York that should be avoided are different than they might have been two years ago and could be different in two more years.
Those CompStat reports from the police department will really help you get a handle on the places to avoid closer to your visit.
Even Greenwich Village, known as a home for upscale living and shopping, is getting a bad reputation for crime, according to an August 2022 New York Post article.
CBS New York reported that same month that the West Village and Greenwich Village had seen the largest spike in crime across the city and all boroughs.
All crimes that could impact a tourist were up at least 39%, with grand larcenies seeing a 100% increase.
Robberies were up 45%.
For those who want to enjoy the nightlife, review the New York City Office of Nightlife to review crime and safety reports from across the area.
You can also learn safety tips and tricks for dining out, hitting a nightclub, and getting home safely.
You should never walk around at night on dark streets or in alleys.
Stay in populated areas and use taxis or rideshares as much as you can.
Don’t talk to people on the street, even if they seem nice and friendly.
You never know when someone is distracting you, so another can pick your pocket or slide a hand into your purse.
Safety Tips for Traveling to New York City
- If you have any questions about a situation that you feel might be a scam, the NYPD has set up a 24-hour hotline to call. That number is (646)610-7226.
- The police department produces weekly “Crime in Review” videos that are front and center on the website. You can learn about the newest safety programs, NYPD events, and crime concerns in certain areas.
- In late 2022, the NYPD announced an app for LGBTQIA+ resources that every police officer will have. If you have any questions about resources needed to support or protect people in this group, stop any officer and ask for the nearest place to get assistance.
- Follow @MTA on Facebook so you can learn about construction projects, delays, or crime updates on the subway system or city bus system. You’ll need a Metro Card to pay for your public transportation costs. Review the safest places to purchase a card on the MTA website and you can also use the OMNY app to have contactless payment options.
- Sign up for an NYC311 account before you go. This will get you a direct line of contact with the city and you can report concerns, ask questions, or learn about things like parking restrictions.
- You’ll want to get the Notify NYC app to keep up with weather warnings, emergency information, civil disturbances, and any other concern that impacts people in the city.
- New York City and the surrounding area have public WiFi hotspots almost everywhere. This makes getting information easy. You should study up on the public WiFi best safety practices, as you don’t want to make purchases of any kind on public systems unless you have protection, such as a VPN. Try to make all your personal information transactions on a password-protected internet connection.
- When you go to a restaurant, please review the tipping policy on the menu. Many locations will automatically add a gratuity to the bill, so you don’t need to leave a tip. You can’t assume all restaurants will follow that guidance, so you also don’t want to stiff your hardworking server.
- The tourism bureau supports several travel apps to help you plan your trip and save money. You can get discounts when purchasing tickets to different venues at once. Explore the possibilities of Go City New York, New York CityPASS, the New York Pass, and The Sightseeing Pass – New York.
So... How Safe Is New York City Really?
There are two stories for NYC right now.
One says it’s among the safest large cities in the world.
Another says there’s a rampant rise in crime, and it’s so dangerous even the former Governor says he doesn’t feel safe here.
As with all two-sided stories, the truth is in the middle.
New York City is tough, fast-paced, and aggressive.
The people who love it wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you don’t like large crowds, pushy people, or loud atmospheres, you might feel anxious on top of scared in some areas.
If you are confident and can handle yourself in any situation but also know when to back down, you’ll be able to handle the majority of the neighborhoods here.
Looking at the 2021 crime data, the violent crime rate wasn’t anywhere near cities like Chicago and Detroit, but there has been a surge of different crimes in specific areas as of September 2022.
The NYPD is very visual throughout the city, but you also have to take excellent steps to protect your personal safety.
The biggest risk of crime here, assuming you have good situational awareness and common sense, will be random crimes – which can happen anywhere.
You should do all you can to NOT look like a tourist.
That could make you vulnerable to pickpockets and scammers.
Keep your mobile devices as invisible as possible, especially when waiting for or sitting on a bus or train.
New York City, with all its current challenges, is still a safer place than it was 20 or 30 years ago.
Police officers are saturating high-crime areas while keeping a strong presence in tourist areas.
How Does New York City Compare?
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- Visas - Whether you arrive at the port of New York City or at one of its many airports, you'll need a passport and a U.S.-issued Visa to get through Customs. Security checkpoints here are taken very seriously, so don't make jokes or resist answering questions. Look up information on the Trusted Traveler Program through the Department of Homeland Security to apply for a modified screening process.
- Currency - The U.S. Dollar is the only form of accepted currency. AFEX is a currency exchange business with two New York locations. You'll need some walking cash to tip bellhops, cab drivers, housekeepers, and a concierge. There's a lot of tipping expected in New York City. Never use a public ATM outside of a bank.
- Weather - You'll need winter clothing starting in November through March, but be sure to check the forecast. You can lessen your load or layer up depending on weather patterns. Wear comfortable shoes to walk in because you'll be on your feet a lot. Even if you ride public transportation, you have a lot of stairs to tackle. Spring and fall can have variable temperatures, so pack different layers and a wrap or a sweatshirt. In summer, you'll be able to dress in dresses, shorts, and t-shirts. Remember those comfortable walking shoes even when they are open-toed. Walking around all day in flip-flops is going to be painful.
- Airports - You can fly into and out of JFK airport, LaGuardia, or Newark. Each one provides plenty of direct and connecting flights with easy transportation to your hotel neighborhoods and back. Don't walk around the streets of New York with your luggage. Make direct rides between your hotel and the airport for the utmost safety.
- Travel Insurance - Travel insurance just makes sense in a huge city like New York with so many potential risks. Even if you don't use insurance, it's worth the peace of mind you'll have while exploring the city that never sleeps.
New York City Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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