Ranking the Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S.
Oakland, Chicago and Detroit have deadly reputations, but are they actually the most violent cities in the U.S.? (Read on to find out.)
If you’re thinking of making a move to a new city, make sure you know the facts before finalizing your plans. Based on FBI statistics on violent crime rate per 100,000 residents, here’s the ranking for the most dangerous cities in the U.S.
30. Oklahoma City, OK
Famous for its cowboy lifestyle, Oklahoma City is Oklahoma's capital and largest city. The city is also known for its high amount of violent crimes, which included 81 homicides, 1,120 robberies and 3,429 aggravated assaults in 2017.
29. Tucson, AZ
If you asked Tucsonans to describe their city, they would most likely mention the hot weather and the University of Arizona. However, the city is also known for its dangers. Property crimes are common in Tucson, including vehicle thefts, car break-ins, burglaries and bike thefts.
28. Newark, NJ
Panhandlers can get aggressive in Newark, especially near Penn Station Newark. Unfortunately, some crimes get much worse. For instance, the city reported 1,280 aggravated assaults and 1,070 robberies. Law enforcement noted crime rate increases in the Springfield-Belmont neighborhood.
27. Atlanta, GA
In the past 30 years, Atlanta often ranked as one of the top five most dangerous cities due to violence. The city has worked hard to improve public safety, dropping Atlanta's ranking to No. 31 in 2009. However, the city still has its fair share of crime.
26. Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati is called the "Chili Capital of America," but it's also known for its violent crime. The city's police department even starred on TLC's Police Women of Cincinnati and A&E's The First 48. In 2017, the city recorded 1,196 thefts and 1,275 aggravated assaults.
25. Philadelphia, PA
Pennsylvania’s largest city, Philadelphia, is home to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall — the iconic location where the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were signed — and many historical sites related to the American Revolution. It's also an area with a lot of active crime. The city reported 6,026 robberies and 7,406 aggravated assaults.
24. Washington, D.C.
The U.S. capital, Washington D.C., is the location of the White House, U.S. Capitol building and the Supreme Court. The 1990s was one of the most violent decades for the city. In fact, D.C. was known as the "murder capital" in 1991 after experiencing 482 homicides.
23. North Las Vegas, NV
North Las Vegas is the first city on this list to exceed 1,000 on its violent crime rate (1,014.69 per 100,000). The average violent crime rate in the U.S. was 383 per 100,000 in 2017, which makes this city's rate nearly three times the national average.
22. Buffalo, NY
Found in upstate New York, Buffalo is known for its City Hall, Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House Complex and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. In 2016, the city's violent crime rate was the 15th-worst in the country. However, the crime rate has consistently decreased, especially since the 1990s.
21. Wichita, KS
"The Air Capital of the World," Wichita, has mass produced aircraft since the 1920s. The city is also the birthplace of White Castle and Pizza Hut. Unfortunately, the area is also recognized for its increasing crime rates, with a violent crime rate that is almost three times as high as the national average.
20. Baton Rouge, LA
Well-known for its beautiful architecture, Baton Rouge is home to the Magnolia Mound Plantation, the LSU Rural Life Museum and the USS Kidd — a WWII destroyer transformed into a museum. However, Baton Rouge also has a not so pleasant side.
19. Tulsa, OK
The oil-rich city of Tulsa earned the nickname the "oil capital of the world" in the 20th century. Locals also call it the "Birthplace of Route 66." Unfortunately, the city also has a history of high crime rates fueled by gang violence.
18. Houston, TX
Houston plays a key role in space exploration, air conditioning technology, petroleum research, capital punishment and the international energy industry. The diverse city also has a problem with high crime rates. In 2017, the city recorded 9,773 robberies and 14,201 aggravated assaults.
17. Chicago, IL
Chicago often gains attention for its high murder rates, with 2016 as its deadliest year with 762 homicides. The city still leads the country (on this list) for the highest number of murders in 2017 with 653 killings. (However, when it comes to murder rates per 100,000 people per year, another city takes first place.)
The Most Violent Weekend of 2019 in Chicago
In August, Chicago experienced its most violent weekend of 2019. Between August 2 and August 4, violent crimes injured 52 people and claimed the lives of 10. Most of the violence was gang-related. According to the police department, crime increases during the hot summer months.
16. Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis has a great reputation as a city for art and culture. It also gained a bad reputation as one of the most violent places in the country. In 2017, the city recorded 1,819 thefts and 2,239 aggravated assaults.
15. New Orleans, LA
Also known as the "Big Easy," New Orleans is famous for its Mardi Gras celebrations and French Quarter. Crime is a continuous problem in New Orleans due to lack of jobs and the rise of drugs in the city. Mayoral races typically focus on violent crime rates as a significant issue.
14. Nashville, TN
With attractions such as the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Music Row district, it’s no surprise that Nashville is the capital of country music. However, some areas are rampant in crime, including prostitution, drug activity and robberies.
13. Anchorage, AK
Logging 778 robberies and 2,368 aggravated assaults, Anchorage became the 13th worst city for violent crimes in the nation in 2017. The city’s crime rate is higher than the entire state of Alaska (524.2 per 100,000).
12. San Bernardino, CA
San Bernardino is known for its millionaire residents, yet the city also suffers from a high poverty level. San Bernardino's poverty rate hangs at 30.6%. Experts believe poverty and crime go hand in hand, so it's not surprising that the city is also one of the country's most violent places.
11. Oakland, CA
In 2019, National Geographic listed Oakland as a must-see city on its travel's best trips list, highly noting the city's Jack London Square and Temescal Alley. Unfortunately, the city's staggering levels of poverty, drug crimes and gang violence continue to damage its reputation among residents and the rest of the country.
Oakland’s Gang Violence
One of the most infamous events in the history of Oakland is the death of Black Panther Huey P. Newton. Newton co-founded the Black Panther Party in 1966. The organization's goals were to make life better in black communities and to stop police brutality. In 1989, Newton became a victim of gang violence.
10. Indianapolis, IN
Poverty, substance abuse, mental illness and easy access to firearms are contributing factors to the violent crime in Indianapolis. The city reported 3,485 robberies and 7,307 aggravated assaults in 2017, ranking 10th among the country's most dangerous places.
9. Albuquerque, NM
Previously known as the "War Zone," the International District of Albuquerque is the most violent area in the city due to gang violence. Drug deals and used needles flood the streets in the area. It's also ranked as the most terrible neighborhood for raising young children.
8. Stockton, CA
In 2012, Stockton was officially broke and made headlines after declaring bankruptcy. Of course, the city being as poor as the citizens made the already high violent crime rate even worse. The city was forced to cut back on public safety, including the police, at a time when it was most needed.
7. Cleveland, OH
Cleveland is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but it's also a place riddled with violent crime. The lack of access to jobs and high rates of poverty keep the violence alive in Cleveland. In fact, 30.6% of residents live in poverty, and 4.4% don't have jobs.
6. Milwaukee, WI
Famous for its universities, Fortune 500 companies and beautiful shoreline along Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is the largest city in Wisconsin. However, it's also the second poorest U.S. city. As a result, robbers and muggers run rampant in some areas.
5. Kansas City, MO
Famous for its jazz culture, Kansas City-style barbecue and craft breweries, Kansas City is full of diversity and culture. However, the city still fares poorly when it comes to violent crime. Experts believe loose gun laws and available firearms have led to the city’s alarmingly high number of homicides and violent crimes.
4. Memphis, TN
Memphis is home to the blues of Beale Street — and once home to Elvis for most of his life. However, the city also has a not so bright side. For decades, Memphis has suffered from a criminal culture of gangs, drugs and guns.
3. Baltimore, MD
Reporting 5,879 robberies and 5,827 aggravated assaults in 2017, Baltimore is one of the top five most violent cities in the country. Its crime rate ranks very high above the national average. In fact, the city's robbery rate (958.71 per 100,000 people) is almost 10 times the national rate (98 per 100,000 people).
Why Baltimore Has a Crime Problem
Experts say there are many factors that contribute to Baltimore's violent crime problem. For a long time, the city had an infamous reputation for having an active drug market. The city also suffers from highly segregated neighborhoods. Another factor is the scandals that have plagued the Baltimore police force.
2. Detroit, MI
Motor City — Detroit — is often called the No. 1 most violent city in the country. However, in 2017, Detroit was bumped to second place by another city. Since the 1970s, the city has experienced high levels of violent crimes due to gang-related activities.
1. St. Louis, MO
Taking the top spot as the most dangerous city in the country, St. Louis has faced a rise in crime since the 1960s. Violent crimes, murder and drug trafficking have plagued the city. St. Louis recorded 1,944 thefts and 4,023 aggravated assaults in 2017.
3. Gilbert, AZ
Previously known as the "Hay Shipping Capital of the World," Gilbert was once a large farming community. Today, the population is rapidly changing and growing. In fact, the city is remodeling its downtown to draw in younger families. Gilbert is ranked as one of the safest cities to raise a child.
2. Naperville, IL
Naperville is a welcoming and beautiful suburb with more than 130 parks. The city boasts excellent employment opportunities, acclaimed schools, nice neighborhoods and a wonderful public library system. Naperville is often listed as one of the best cities in the U.S. to live and raise children.
1. Irvine, CA
According to the city's website, Irvine has earned the "Safest City" title for 13 consecutive years. The city logged 55 robberies and 66 aggravated assaults in 2018. What is the city's secret to a peaceful coexistence? Officials believe it's a collaborative effort.