Is Harlem NY Dangerous?

By PropertyClub Team
Feb 28th 2024
Harlem, NY is less dangerous than it once was, but it still has a higher crime rate than the national average. Harlem was a rough area in the late '80s and early '90s when it was considered a major hub for drugs and crime in New York City. However, crime across the board has gone down since then, and today, some parts of Harlem are just as safe as any other part of NYC. 

hash-markCrime Rates in Harlem

The total crime rate in Harlem is 4,336 crimes per 100,000 residents, which is 88% higher than the national average and 40% higher than the rest of NYC. Harlem suffers from a high rate of violent crime, with 1,328 incidents per 100,000 residents, which is 259% higher than the rest of the US. Property crime is also 55% higher than the national average.

West Harlem tends to be the safest. Morningside Heights, the neighborhood between 110th and 125th Street on the West Side, is a nice area full of beautiful brownstones that is home to Columbia University. Its total crime rate is only 20% higher than the national average. Hamilton Heights, the neighborhood north to the north, is also a generally safe area full of historic architecture and home to City College. 

East Harlem is generally considered the worst part of Harlem, with a violent crime rate that is 438% higher than the rest of the US. Central Harlem, which includes everything above Central Park and below 155th between 5th Ave and St. Nicholas Ave, is generally safe but does experience some crime.

hash-markIs Harlem Safe to Walk Through?

Yes, Harlem is perfectly safe to walk through during the day. You'll find many great restaurants, museums, and universities in the neighborhood that attract regular tourists and visitors. Most of the violent crime tends to be drug and gang-related and concentrated in certain areas. So be aware of your surroundings, but you shouldn't have too many issues if you stick to populated, well-lit areas.

hash-markIs Harlem Safe at Night?

It's best not to visit Harlem at night unless you have a specific destination. While it's perfectly safe to visit during the day, it is easier to stumble into some rougher areas after dark if you don't know your way around. While you likely won't have issues if you're simply visiting a specific bar or restaurant in the area, it isn't wise to wander aimlessly through Harlem at night.  

hash-markIs Harlem More Dangerous Than Other Parts of NYC?

Although Harlem has a high crime rate, it isn't the most dangerous neighborhood in NYC. Many neighborhoods in the Bronx have a much higher crime rate. For instance, Mott Haven has a violent crime rate that is 605% higher than the national average, while Hunts Point experiences 572% more violence than the rest of the US. 

Brooklyn also has its fair share of dangerous neighborhoods. The Brownsville violent crime rate is 337% higher than the national average, while in Bedford-Stuyvesant, it's 268% higher. Even Manhattan has its fair share of crime. The violent crime rate in Midtown is 385% higher than in the rest of the US, while in Chinatown, it's 440% higher. So, in general, Harlem isn't any more dangerous than many other parts of New York City.

hash-markTips for Staying Safe in Harlem

If you want to stay safe in Harlem, the best advice is to be aware of your surroundings. For tourists, you should stick to well-lit, high-traffic areas that are around popular attractions. Travel in a group or go with a guide who knows the area well so you don't end up accidentally stumbling into a bad area.

Stay away from parks, especially after dark (including the northern part of Central Park), as they tend to attract vagrants and a criminal element. It may also be wise to avoid the subway and take an Uber or Yellow Cab instead, as it's easy to get lost if you don't know your way around. But, as long as you use the same precautions as you would when exploring any densely populated urban neighborhood, you should be fine.

hash-markIs Harlem Dangerous Bottom Line

Harlem is much safer than it used to be in the '90s when it had a reputation as one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in America. If you're visiting Harlem during the day, you should feel relatively safe. However, you should still be vigilant and avoid certain areas when visiting the neighborhood. Crime rates are still high in the area and Harlem is more dangerous at night. If you plan on going to Harlem, make sure you have a clear destination and use common sense when traveling, especially after dark.