safest for all crime


Battery Park, Financial District, SoHo, TriBeCa

Photo: Tiphanie Colon-Lamontanaro

1st precinct / population 66,679

Few areas in the city have experienced as much change recently as Downtown, covered by the 1st Precinct, which stretches south from Houston Street west from Broadway, around the tip of Manhattan and up to the Brooklyn Bridge — and that's not just because of September 11.

SoHo galleries decamped for Chelsea long ago. As soon as TriBeCa cleared out its gangs of young miscreants arriving on the PATH train from New Jersey in the mid-1990s, it began attracting entrepreneurs and families. Similarly, Battery Park City soon became one of the most family-friendly neighborhoods in New York.

Of course, these changes came to a temporary halt after Sept. 11, 2001, when people left the area for fear of air pollution and a second attack. Then the financial crisis and recession put Downtown's nascent recovery on hold. But things are looking up. The Financial District (FiDi) is now less of a ghost town after Wall Street's closing bell, as many office buildings have been converted into apartments. Dive bars, strip clubs and low-end retailers are being replaced by trendy restaurants, luxury hotels and designer boutiques. Vacancies in all the neighborhoods have begun to fall, even as prices climb, and families are drawn again to TriBeCa and Battery Park City for the area's sought-after schools.

It's surprising, then, that Downtown ranks as only the 63rd safest area out of 69 neighborhoods for per capita crime in DNAinfo.com's Crime & Safety Report — even though major crimes have plummeted 79 percent in the 17 years to 2010, including a drop of 96 percent car theft, 89 percent in robbery, 81 percent in burglary and 82 percent in murder.

Downtown's low residential population is partly to blame for its 66th place showing in property crime, with 191 incidents per 10,000 residents. The area also has the third-worst grand larceny rate in the city, and ranks 47th for burglaries.

Still, crime rates have fallen in most major categories during each of the last two years. And violent crime is low. Downtown registered just two murders in both 2009 and 2010, with only one in 2008. Though rapes increased from four to six in 2010, that number represents a 50 percent drop from 2008, when 12 were reported. Car thefts were down 30 percent in 2010, to 38; and both felony assaults and burglaries fell 18 percent, to 68 and 170, respectively.