safest for all crime
9th precinct / population 76,443
Though St. Mark's Place is still lined with smoke shops and leather fetish stores, these now rub shoulders with trendy boutiques, bars and restaurants, drawing those looking for a good time or a cute dress. Avenues B and C, which until the late 1990s were known mainly for their drug corners, are now chock full of new apartment developments and entertainment venues. This gentrification brought a dramatic 71 percent drop in major crimes in the area over the 17 years since 1993, led by a 91 percent plunge in car thefts, an 81 percent drop in robberies, and 77 percent declines for murders and burglaries.
There's still room for improvement, however, as the East Village and Alphabet City rank just 58th out of 69 neighborhoods for per capita crime in DNAinfo.com's Crime & Safety Report, even though the overall crime rate there fell by 9 percent in 2010. The area's crime rate of 182 incidents per 10,000 residents also places it as only the 12th safest out of 17 neighborhoods in Manhattan.
While the neighborhoods never lacked a solid bar scene, the influx of new lounges and clubs has brought with it new troubles. DWI arrests were up 600 percent since 2001, to 140. On Aug. 22, 2010, Devin Thompson, 37, was shot and killed during a fight outside the Sin Sin/Leopard Lounge, on Fifth Street. Residents complained that it had become a magnet for drugs, prostitution and drunken midnight brawls. It was eventually shut down.
Property crime still plagues the 9th Precinct, which covers the area and has one of the worst rates in the city for this category, ranking a lowly 61st. Grand larceny remains a problem even though its rate fell 6 percent in 2010, to 760.
With gentrification comes increased wealth, so it's not surprising that the East Village and Alphabet City rank just 54th safest for burglaries, though this rate was down a significant 23 percent in 2010, to 220. Robberies dropped 4 percent for the year, but were a growing concern by October 2010, as thefts of cell phones and other electronic devices skyrocketed 19 percent compared to the same month in 2009. The area is the 12th safest in the city for car theft, however.
Though it ranks a middling 36th for violent crimes overall, the East Village and Alphabet City have seen rape and murder rates trend upward since 2001; and though the number of reported rapes fell from 16 to 14 in 2010, they were up 56 percent over 2008. This trend is also worrying given a recent high profile rape case in the area, in which two police officers were accused of assaulting a fashion executive. Murders held steady at four in 2010, but were up from three in 2008 and two in 2001.
Increase in reported rapes, 2008 to 2010
Drop in car thefts, 1993 to 2010
Photo: Getty/NY Daily News Archive
In the summer of 1988, Tompkins Square Park was completely taken over by homeless people, junkies and anarchists. With the hope of curbing the public health issues that their presence brought, the city decided to implement a curfew, an idea strongly opposed by the local population.
After a 1 a.m. curfew for the park was approved on June 28, the police began confining homeless people to a corner of the park off Avenue A and closing the park altogether at various times throughout the month of July. On July 31, at a gathering protesting the closings, six police officers were injured and four men arrested after cops responded to a noise complaint in the park. Tensions continued to mount, and on August 6, police met protesters who were holding banners that read "Gentrification is Class War." The scene exploded. According to some reports, the police lost control, clubbing protesters and reporters indiscriminately. Police horses charged the crowds, knocking people to the ground. Protesters threw bottles and smashed the windows of a new high-rise apartment building. The backlash against police was strong, and there were many claims of police brutality. But in the end, the park was cleaned up, the homeless encampments were dismantled, and rents skyrocketed in the area surrounding the park.
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