Washington DC is a city of contrasts, with affluent neighborhoods existing alongside much poorer areas. For those who call DC home, the decision of whether to pay a premium to live in a central, safe location or to opt for a longer commute in an area with higher crime rates can be a difficult one. This report will focus on the most dangerous neighborhoods in the nation’s capital.
Is Washington DC Safe? A Deep Dive into the Safety of the US Capital
Washington DC has garnered a reputation for being a dangerous city, largely due to the rising violent crime rates between 2020 and 2022. However, it’s important to note that Washington DC is relatively safe, particularly in the tourist areas and heart of the city. When compared to other large cities, the violent crime rate in DC is similar. Nonetheless, there are certain areas in Washington DC that are more dangerous than others, and it may not be as safe as other major cities like New York City.
If you are planning to visit or relocate to DC, it is important to be aware of the areas that are best avoided.
Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in Washington DC
Brentwood, a neighborhood in Washington DC, is known to have high rates of violent crime, making it the most dangerous area in the city. With a population of 28,660 people, Brentwood recorded 1,715 incidents of violent crimes in 2022. Additionally, there were 7,556 cases of burglaries, theft, and car theft.
Due to the high frequency of petty theft, it is recommended to avoid leaving personal items such as bikes or valuables in your car in plain sight. If you plan on using public transportation in Brentwood, it is advisable to keep your wallet, cash, and valuable items hidden from view to avoid becoming a target for criminals.
Anacostia, located in southeastern DC, has a notorious reputation for being one of the worst neighborhoods in the city due to its high rates of violent and property crimes. Despite its historical significance and a population of 117,488, the area is plagued by crime.
Over the years, the crime rate in Anacostia has been erratic and has shown fluctuations. The Ward 8 section and the River’s East Bank area are known for their drug and gang activities. According to a 2015 study, only 44 per cent of the residents felt safe walking on the streets during the day. The residents also claim that the police do not adequately protect them or patrol the area. Therefore, it is advisable to exercise caution while travelling in public transit and keep valuable items secure.
Located in Northeast DC, Deanwood is known for its high crime rate, making it one of the worst places to live in Washington DC. With a population of 29,798, this neighbourhood has a violent crime rate that is 600% higher than the national average. Gang activity is the primary source of crime, with issues related to gun violence and the drug trade.
Despite a moderate police presence, crime has steadily increased by 2% yearly since 2018. In the first half of 2021, DC police recorded 30 robberies, 34 assaults, 27 burglaries, and three murders in the area. With an overall chance of becoming a victim of any crime at 1 in 12, it’s clear that living in Deanwood comes with significant safety risks.
4. U Street Corridor
The U Street Corridor, located in Northwestern DC and home to a population of 10,104, has a notorious history of being one of the most dangerous areas in Washington DC. The 1968 riots marked the beginning of the neighbourhood’s tumultuous past, with high crime rates that persisted for years, including drug abuse and prostitution. However, thanks to police interventions, crime rates decreased by the early 2000s, and the neighbourhood is no longer considered the most dangerous in the city.
Nevertheless, gang-related crimes like drive-by shootings still occur relatively frequently. If you plan to visit the U Street Corridor, especially at night or if you’re a woman, you must be cautious. The likelihood of being a victim of crime in this neighbourhood remains relatively high, at approximately 1 in 10.
5. Columbia Heights
Columbia Heights is widely recognized as one of the most difficult neighbourhoods in Washington, DC. With a populace of 34,875, the area is notorious for its gang activity. In 2020, the crime rate in the neighbourhood was 5,825 per 100,000 people. It’s worth noting that most violence is gang-related and doesn’t usually target the local population. Walking or biking during the day is safe as long as common sense is applied.
Petworth, a neighbourhood in the Northwest in Ward 4, is home to around 11,886 people. Despite not being as dangerous as some other areas in Washington, DC, it still has some problematic regions. During the day, panhandling and vagrancy are significant concerns for residents, making walking around the area unpleasant. While Petworth’s overall crime rates are 14% lower than the Washington DC average, violent crimes are 143% higher than the national average. It is strongly advised not to walk alone at night, as petty theft, Pickpocketing, and muggings are frequent problems. Therefore, keeping your cash and personal belongings safe and secure is crucial.
Shaw is a neighbourhood home to approximately 13,782 residents in the Northwest region of DC. Unfortunately, the total crime rate in this area is relatively high, with a staggering 6,696 incidents per 100,000 people. Property crime is especially rampant, occurring seven times more frequently than violent crime. Gunshots are regularly reported in and around Sixth Street, adding to the concern for safety. Pickpocketing and muggings are also common occurrences, making it crucial to keep personal belongings secure at all times. Residents with a 1 in 12 chance of experiencing crime should exercise caution when navigating this neighbourhood.
8. Ledroit Park
In the early 1990s, this area gained notoriety as an outdoor drug market. Fast forward to the mid-2010s, cases of robberies and murders saw both an increase and a decrease at different times. As of 2022, violent crimes are alarmingly high, with rates 184% above the national average. Total crime rates are also significantly higher, at 161% above average. It’s important to note that property crimes occur at any time of the day or night. While taxis are a safer option than public transit, keeping your cash and valuables close to you is still advisable. Fortunately, frequent police patrols provide some level of security in this area.
Stadium has a population of 21,142, with a crime rate of 24% higher than the city average. Violent crime, which includes gun violence, is quite common. However, there is a strong police presence, and the metro station police are always alert. Even though property crime is still high, visitors can stay vigilant by keeping their belongings safe and avoiding leaving valuables in parked cars. Despite these safety concerns, some top-rated hotels are in the area, making it a good option for travellers.
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