safest for all crime
26th precinct / population 49,508
Who would have thought that a neighborhood bordering on Central Harlem and West Harlem would be safer than Greenwich Village? Yet that's the case with DNAinfo.com's Crime & Safety Report, in which the Village ranks second to last out of 69 neighborhoods for per capita crime, and Morningside Heights, located above the Upper West Side of Manhattan, ranks 38th.
Comedian George Carlin grew up in the neighborhood when it was populated with Irish working-class families. In a comedy routine, he called the area "White Harlem" because the name Morningside Heights wasn't tough enough.
Today, Columbia University dominates the neighborhood and owns much of the real estate there and in nearby Manhattanville, which it began buying up in the 1960s. Over the decades, residents have moved out and students and university employees have moved in while the school moved forward with expansion plans. That could explain why the low-density area, covered by the 26th Precinct, has seen a 76 percent drop in major crimes from 1993 to 2010, with burglaries down 87 percent, robberies off 77 percent and car thefts dropping 93 percent for that period.
The neighborhood's college-town feel can lull students and residents into a false sense of security, but there was a 3 percent uptick in major crimes from 2009 to 2010. Property crimes rose slightly, by 2 percent, with a 24 percent drop in car thefts balanced by a 36 percent increase in burglaries. Even so, the area ranks 10th safest in the city for property crime rates.
Violent crimes are more of a concern. The neighborhood drops to 47th out of 69 for this group of crimes, with felony assaults up 39 percent in 2010 to 107, and rapes up 30 percent, to 13, for a lowly ranking of 60th. Murder remained rare, at just two in both 2009 and 2010. Even though robberies dropped by 11 percent in 2010, to 175, the area comes in 53rd for this category.
Increase in felony assaults, 2009 to 2010
Drop in car thefts from 1993 to 2010
Dr. Wolfgang Friedmann, 65, a professor of international law and the director of international legal research at Columbia University, was just a few blocks from the campus when he was attacked by three youths in broad daylight on Sept. 20, 1972. Witnesses to the attack, on Amsterdam Avenue near 122nd Street, later told police that the youths had tried to take Friedmann's wristwatch and that during the struggle, he had been stabbed once in the chest. The attackers took his wallet but left his briefcase. He was later pronounced dead at the scene. None of the witnesses had helped the professor during the attack. Friedmann was born in Berlin and had served as a judge in Germany before fleeing the Nazis. He later worked with the Allies in WWII, from 1944 to 1947. At the time of Friedmann's murder, then-Mayor John Lindsey said it was "the worst outrage" during his tenure. To this day, Columbia University's Journal of Transnational Law presents an annual award in the professor's honor to a distinguished scholar in the field of international law.
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