New York : Safety by City
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Yonkers, New York, is a historic city just north of Manhattan in Westchester County that offers a perfect blend of rich history, natural beauty, and modern energy.
Founded in 1646, Yonkers has been shaped by its strategic location along the majestic Hudson River.
In the 19th century, Yonkers became an industrial hub, with factories, mills, and railroad lines fueling its growth.
Traces of this past remain today in some revitalized old factory buildings downtown.
But nature has always played a role here too.
The Palisades cliffs across the river serve as a gorgeous backdrop.
Lush parks with native plants are woven throughout the city.
And the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park follows the path of a 19th-century water system that connects Yonkers to New York City.
Today, Yonkers is the third-largest city in the state and a lively urban center with a youthful, creative spirit.
The downtown area bustles with boutiques, eateries, and music venues.
Its diverse culinary scene reflects the many cultures that call Yonkers home.
And the arts thrive in Yonkers, with a vibrant performing arts center, galleries, and events.
History buffs will appreciate touring the stately Philipse Manor Hall, a well-preserved 1702 manor house.
And art lovers can explore the Hudson River Museum to discover exhibits on regional culture and heritage.
With its rich past, natural splendor, and energetic modern vibe, Yonkers offers an easily accessible yet rewarding getaway.
While there are some safety risks we need to discuss, Yonkers should definitely be on your short list of places to stay to get the full New York City and Westchester County experience.
Warnings & Dangers in Yonkers
OVERALL RISK: MEDIUM
There's a medium risk here, but that's really only for certain parts of the city. However, as part of the greater NYC metro area, it's important for those who don't live in this region to know this is a "big city" crime location.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
The bonus of a big city is the number of transportation options. You can take the train, bus, or taxi/rideshare to get around. Rental cars are widely available. While each option comes with its own risk and benefit, there's a low risk if you follow standard safety precautions.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: MEDIUM
More than 25 pickpockets or purse snatching happen each year, which isn't a lot for the third largest city in New York. However, treat it with a medium risk to limit what you bring and keep valuables out of plain sight.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: LOW
Both Westchester County and the city of Yonkers have Emergency Management Departments, and all the risks and safety plans are detailed on their respective websites. You must stay weather aware here due to the risk of severe thunderstorms, winter storms, hurricanes, and flooding.
MUGGING RISK: MEDIUM
The robbery rate is slightly above the national average, and nearly half of those are highway robberies, which means they happen in public spaces. That's a medium risk.
TERRORISM RISK: MEDIUM
As part of the NYC Metro area, there's a medium risk but also a lot of security that comes with that. The most important thing you can do is report any suspicious activity, erring on the side of caution. You should also review the latest Terrorism Advisory Bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security.
SCAMS RISK: MEDIUM
The Yonkers Police Department does a great job of sharing current scams on its website, and you can also review the New York Attorney General's Office for scam reports. Treat it with a medium risk, as there are fast-talking and expert fraudsters ready to trick you into getting your money. The most important thing is to never give in to pressure or deals that seem too good to be true.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Statistically, women have a much lower percentage of being a victim of violent crime. You definitely need to keep your wits about you, as you would in any large city. If you have been drinking, never try to walk back to your hotel. Get a taxi or rideshare with door-to-door service.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
The 2022 Water Quality Report shows full compliance, and it's worth taking a glance at to see when the water utility is required to notify you about a water quality alert. Any more pressing tap water issues will be reported on city social media sites and through your hotel.
Safest Places to Visit in Yonkers
Three websites can help you plan your Yonkers trip.
One is the Westchester County tourism website.
Another is the Yonkers Downtown Business Improvement District website.
Rounding out the list is the South Broadway Business Improvement District.
Start your Yonkers visit at the Hudson River Museum, located in a historic manor house overlooking the Hudson River.
This museum houses impressive collections of American art and regularly hosts exhibitions and family-friendly events.
There’s a planetarium on site too.
Spend some time strolling along the Yonkers Riverwalk, a scenic path along the Hudson River.
When the trail is completed, it will span nearly 52 miles from Yonkers to Peekskill.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester is a great rainy day activity, but shouldn’t be missed even with good weather.
This indoor attraction features Lego rides, a 4D cinema, and interactive buildings for kids of all ages.
When the weather is pleasant, the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy offers 43 acres of different gardens mingled within the original architecture of the estate.
This conservancy is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Nestled on a sloping hillside overlooking the Hudson River, the 40-acre Lenoir Preserve offers spectacular vistas along with opportunities to explore its woodlands, fields, and trails adjacent to the Old Croton Aqueduct.
While touring a barge might not sound all that exciting, the Groundwork Hudson Valley Science Barge is a floating greenhouse and education center moored on the Yonkers waterfront that demonstrates renewable energy technologies and sustainable urban agriculture.
Schedule a tour ahead of time.
If you love shopping as much as I do, check out Ridge Hill’s open-air mall or Cross County Shopping Center, one of the largest in Westchester County.
Yonkers has some famous restaurants to plan your meals around, like the sophisticated setting of X20 Xaviars on the Hudson, known for its fresh seafood and signature desserts.
You can also just grab a drink at The Dylan Bar & Lounge.
Stunning views of the waterway and bridge are available from every seat in the house.
Or grab a slice from Johnny’s Pizzeria, a classic Yonkers pizzeria serving New York-style pizza since 1969.
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana is another Yonkers classic pie place.
At either location, a White Clam Pizza is the most popular choice.
Places to Avoid in Yonkers
The area around Getty Square and surrounding neighborhoods have the most crime, and it’s definitely an area to avoid at night.
Speaking very generally, east of the Saw Mill River Parkway is safest.
For a visitor, the challenge is that most of the things to do on the riverfront are near this area.
You should plot an itinerary before you go and stick to it.
This isn’t a neighborhood to be roaming around without a destination and a clear path to get there safely, especially at night.
If you visit the Yonkers Downtown Business District website, you can get a map of the boundaries.
This will also give you good guidance on the safer parts of the city with more security and where the neighborhoods could get a little sketchy.
The police department also offers crime mapping on its website.
The interactive map allows you to enter search criteria, like address, type of crime, and time frame (one month, six months, past week, etc.) to see more recent crime trends.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Yonkers
- Yonkers does have its own police department. You can follow them on Facebook @YonkersPD and email email@example.com with any specific safety questions. To store in your phone, this is the main line for the police department – (914) 377-7900.
- Download the MTA TrainTime app to get tickets and real-time tracking of the train for the Metro-North Railroad in Yonkers. If you see any illegal activity or criminal acts on the train, you can report it to the MTA police.
- Your Metro Card can cover the costs of the Bee Line bus system in Westchester County. That’s ideal because, otherwise, you need exact change. Having one card that covers both public transportation options is just a safe way to travel.
- Sign up for emergency alerts through the Westchester County Emergency Management Office website. This will get you severe weather, civil emergency, and other safety warnings issued right to your mobile device.
- Yonkers doesn’t have a parking app or way to pay before you reach your parking spot. You’ll need a stack of quarters, as every 15-20 minutes costs 25 cents.
- In winter, the city might issue a snow emergency. That just means that parking on certain streets will be banned to let snowplows get through. Signs will mark the “Snow Emergency Route” on select streets, and you will be ticketed or towed if you violate the order.
- You should also know that Yonkers is the second hilliest city in the nation, according to the city website. Only San Francisco has more hills. That’s going to impact your driving skills when there is snow, ice or rain on the road.
- Do not even think about swimming in the Hudson River without checking the water quality status through the Westchester County Department of Health. Yonkers has a sewage treatment plan right on the water, and several accidents have happened in recent years. Even as I write this, there is a warning, “Swimmers and boaters should avoid contact with the Hudson anywhere between Peekskill and Yonkers.”
- Use 511 NY to track real-time traffic and get alerts along the way. You can create an account and set your preferred routes to make safe and simple checkpoints.
- The New York Department of Environmental Conservation issues fishing licenses. You must have one to fish in any freshwater or saltwater region. It’s easy to buy the license online, but non-residents will pay twice as much as residents.
So... How Safe Is Yonkers Really?
Yonkers is one of those cities where it’s important to have context on crime data because the numbers look safer than Yonkers might feel.
The statistical violent crime rate is slightly lower than the national and New York state average.
Even theft is half the national average.
The problem in Yonkers continues to be gang-related activity.
While it’s natural to think, “I’m not associated with gangs, so I’ll be fine.”
The logic doesn’t always hold, because gangs don’t really care if you get caught in the crossfire.
We talked earlier about the places to avoid, and you should stick to that.
Walking around Yonkers west of Saw Mill River Parkway at night is risky for a tourist.
If you’re from a big city, you will likely brush off crime concerns here.
There’s a statistical reason to lean in that direction.
Even in the past decade, the chance of being a victim of violent crime in Yonkers went from one in 173 to one in 305.
One thing that stood out to me is the violent crime locations in 2021.
At least 40% of all violent crimes happened on a sidewalk, street, or other public area like a parking lot.
Even if you aren’t a victim, you might see a violent crime here.
For those visiting from a smaller, safer community, you won’t get the crowds and egregious crime of some New York City neighborhoods, but you also won’t get all the benefits NYC offers.
This isn’t a town where you should fight back against an assailant or put yourself in a risky situation.
You need street smarts and to work that crime mapping technology before you choose a place to stay.
Your accommodation could be the difference between a really safe visit and a really unsafe one.
All that said, several publications over the past few years said Yonkers is one of the safest cities in New York.
Again, statistics back that up.
Here it really is a matter of having street smarts and knowing the areas to avoid.
East Yonkers is much safer than the riverfront.
As a neighborhood being reimagined, it could also be safe by the time you get there with the new anti-gang law enforcement task forces at work.
How Does Yonkers Compare?
|New York City
|Phnom Penh (Cambodia)
|Niagara Falls (Canada)
|Buenos Aires (Argentina)
The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol websites detail all the requirements to enter the United States. You'll need a valid passport and a visa or visa waiver to pass through the checkpoint at the airport or port of entry.
All nearby airports have currency exchange options, but your bank will have the lowest fees. If you don't have a branch in the U.S., exchange currency before your trip. You should avoid currency exchange options in Yonkers, as you don't want anyone to see you with cash.
As part of the NYC metro area, you'll get four seasons of weather. Winters can be frigid, and summers can be humid with high temperatures. With so many potential weather risks, it's important to pack for the forecast a day or two before your trip. It's important to have comfortable walking shoes, and you don't want to bring anything too flashy or expensive to Yonkers.
All the New York City area airports are easily driveable, including LaGuardia, 17 miles away; JFK, 25 miles away; and Newark, 33 miles away. The length of time that drive will take depends on traffic for that time of day.
Comprehensive travel insurance gives a wide berth of coverage to keep you safe during a trip and prevent costly delays. If you're renting a car, you should get full coverage for that as well, with so much traffic in the NYC area.
Yonkers Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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