83rd precinct / population 112,634
This north Brooklyn neighborhood may be one of the coolest in the city, with its influx of new residents, many of them artists priced out of neighboring Williamsburg, but it ranks a lowly 52nd for per capita crime in the DNAinfo.com Crime & Safety Report.
Artists may have replaced vandals, but major crime in the 83rd Precinct increased 6 percent from 2009 to 2010, with shootings and murders spiking 30 percent each, robberies rising 23 percent, and car thefts jumping 12 percent. Bushwick ranks 58th in the city for violent crimes — murder, rape, robbery and felony assault — based on 2010 statistics.
Although burglaries dropped just more than 1 percent in 2010, Bushwick ranks a lowly 66th of 69 for that category. Still, things are a lot better than in past generations, when the neighborhood was transformed from a tidy community of wood-frame houses into an abandoned wasteland plagued by drugs and fires. When white residents began their flight from this part of the city in the 1960s, unscrupulous lenders preyed on the remaining minority residents, who defaulted on their loans and abandoned their homes. Then came the blackout of 1977, when Bushwick was torn apart by looting and arson. The downfall continued in the 1980s and 90s, thanks to crack cocaine.
The city finally launched an aggressive program in 1997 to improve housing, while the police targeted the drug trade.
The subprime loan sharks were once again active in Bushwick during the housing bubble of 2009, this time as residents began to feel the effects of the overheated real estate market.
The twists and turns in Bushwick's journey from wasteland to artistic destination are reflected in the crime figures over the 17 years to 2010. Total crime was down by 66 percent from 1993 to 2010, including drops of 70 percent in both murder and robbery and an 81 percent decline in car theft. Bushwick's grand larcenies remained relatively low, ranking it the 15th safest neighborhood for that particular crime in 2010.
Increase in shooting victims, 2009 to 2010
Drop in car thefts from 1993 to 2010
Photo: Daniel Avila/NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation
Maria Hernandez tried to rid her Bushwick Street of drugs, and she paid for that with her life. As the trade flourished in 1989 outside her home, at 105 Starr St., near Knickerbocker Avenue, Hernandez, 34, and her husband, Carlos, 42, provided intelligence to the police and even confronted dealers. On Aug. 8, 1989, five bullets smashed through her ground-floor bedroom window and killed her. Her husband and 3-year-old son, sleeping nearby, were not injured. About two weeks later the police arrested two neighborhood drug dealers, William "Bundles" Figueroa, 28, and Harry Santiago, 25. Investigators determined that Hernandez had been assassinated because of her anti-drug activities. Both men were later convicted of murder: Santiango was sentenced to 36 years in prison, and Figuerea was sentenced to 48 years in prison. The city park (pictured) outside the row house where Hernandez was murdered now bears her name.
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