safest for all crime

washington heights

33rd/34th precinct / population 190,020

Washington Heights was once known as the city's murder capital, ruled by drug gangs and scarred by police corruption. The crime got so bad that in 1994 the police department split the patrol area in two: the 33rd Precinct south of 179th Street, and the 34th Precinct to the north, which also includes Inwood.

Now, Washington Heights is one of the city's safest neighborhoods, and it ranks a respectable 24th out of 69 for per capita crime in DNAinfo.com's Crime & Safety Report, with a rate of 110 major crimes per 10,000 residents. That also makes it the fourth-safest neighborhood in Manhattan, behind only the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side and neighboring Inwood.

For property crimes alone it moves up to 14th. For burglaries, the neighborhood ranks seventh safest. Some New Yorkers might find those facts surprising, but since the precinct split, there's been a steep drop in murders and shootings, in large part attributable to a police focus on clearing troubled blocks of drug gangs. The removal of corrupt police officers helped, too.

The turnaround led to a recent wave of gentrification, and many Dominican residents who have long made up the majority of the neighborhood population are now moving to outer-boroughs, according to the 2010 census.

But the neighborhood retains its diversity, and more than half of its residents are foreign-born, most of them coming from Latin America.

Still, despite all the progress, the area continues to struggle. The precincts' combined 2010 rate for murders, rapes, assaults and robberies ranks Washington Heights 42nd for violent crime. In the 34th Precinct, total crime was down by 83 percent from 1993 to 2010, but violent crimes jumped from 2008 to 2010, prompting an outcry from public officials. In the 33rd Precinct, total crime was up 21 percent in the 17 years to 2010, the only place in the city to record an increase for that period. From 2009 to 2010, overall crime rates were stable: down by 3 percent in the 34th, up by 1 percent in the 33rd.