safest for all crime

west harlem, hamilton heights & sugar hill

30th precinct / population 60,685

Sugar Hill was home to the city's most affluent black families in the 1920s, while Hamilton Heights was a country retreat for founding-father Alexander Hamilton in the 1780s and 90s. Sadly, by the 1980s, the area was besieged by drug crime and had become the main Dominican drug corridor and distribution point for the East Coast.

Recently, these northern Manhattan neighborhoods, composed largely of working-class families, have seen an influx of white professionals looking to find a deal on a derelict brownstone or townhouse. Marking their arrival are gourmet muffin shops and cafes, which have sprouted up to join the nail salons and rotisserie-chicken joints. Between 1993 and 2010, major crime was down 74 percent, led by an 88 percent decline in murders, 87 percent drop in burglaries and an 85 percent fall in car theft, making West Harlem the 33rd safest for per capita crime out of 69 neighborhoods in DNAinfo.com's Crime & Safety Report. Drug crimes have continued to decrease — narcotics charges were down 33 percent from 2009 to 2010, and down 85 percent during the period from 2001 to 2010.

But the 30th Precinct, which covers the area, saw its crime rate rise 4 percent in 2010, and it had the worst record for sexual assault in the entire city. Reported rapes soared from 19 to 35 in 2010, an 84 percent increase. Over the two years from 2008, it jumped to 192 percent.

Murders, too, skyrockted last year, from one to seven. Robberies were on the rise as well, up 23 percent in 2010, to 253. Of violent crimes, only felony assaults declined, by 8 percent, to 178, but the neighborhood still ranked just 51st in the city for that crime. Some blame the uptick on a lack of activities for youths.

When it comes to property crimes, however, West Harlem is one of the safest in the city, ranking fifth overall and No. 1 for Manhattan, with just 48 crimes per 10,000 residents. Grand larceny tumbled 17 percent from 2009 to 2010, to 144 incidents; and even though car thefts increased 4 percent, West Harlem still ranks 15th safest for that crime. Burglaries remained steady, increasing by just one in 2010, to 101.