safest for all crime

east harlem

Photo: Tiphanie Colon-Lamontanaro

23rd/25th precincts / population 120,511

Whether you call it East Harlem, Spanish Harlem or El Barrio, this neighborhood is a tightly knit community that is home to one of the city's largest concentrations of Hispanic residents. Over the years, it has struggled with just about every kind of measurable quality of life issue. But because it is adjacent to the Upper East Side and is one of the few Manhattan neighborhoods with relatively cheap rent, East Harlem has seen a wave of young professionals and artists relocating there in recent years, helping to rank the neighborhood 44th for per capita crime in DNAinfo.com's Crime & Safety Report out of 69 New York neighborhoods. The area placed eighth out of 17 in Manhattan.

Overall crime rates in East Harlem, covered by the 23rd and 25th Precincts, dropped by 70 percent from 1993 to 2010. The biggest improvements were in property crime, with car theft downs by 86 percent and burglaries by 81 percent. East Harlem ranks 24th safest for the latter crime category. Robberies and murders, down 74 percent and 72 percent, respectively, led the neighborhood's decline in violent crimes. Rapes, however, dropped by just 59 percent during the 17-year period, and grand larcenies fell by 50 percent. The trend continued but leveled off in 2010, with a 1 percent decline in total major crimes, to 1,777. Grand larceny fell 11 percent, to 482 in 2010, and burglaries dropped another 7 percent, to 199.

But the neighborhood's rough edge remains. In 2010, shootings increased by 72 percent in the combined precincts, from 43 to 74. Rape, too, remains a concern, up 34 percent from 2008 and 19 percent from 2009, to 43, making East Harlem the city's sixth least-safe area for this crime.

While murders soared 50 percent, to 18, and car thefts ticked up 20 percent in 2010, to 108, the neighborhood's precincts showed opposing trends. Murders and auto thefts declined in the 23rd Precinct, yet rose significantly in the 25th, showing that the area adjacent to the Upper East Side is improving faster than the northern part of the neighborhood, which is closer to Central Harlem.

Police and community leaders attribute much of the violent crime to youth gangs, which are mainly clustered in the neighborhood's public-housing projects. Young people also complain that they don't have enough alternatives to the streets. Gang activity skyrocketed 134 percent in 2010, to 234; narcotic arrests rose 17 percent, to 2,750.