So, you’re off to New York City for that once-in-a-lifetime trip. The itinerary is already planned out: A jaunt up the Empire State Building, a cruise over to Lady Liberty herself, an outing up the Hudson River, and – of course – a mosey around the enthralling borough of the Bronx. One word of warning before you get going: The latter isn’t the safest of areas in the Big Apple, just as this list of the most dangerous places in the Bronx will show…
From the gritty industrial areas of Hunts Point and Port Morris to the lived-in quarters of Fordham and Longwood, this guide will outline a handful of the sketchier parts of the big city. We’ll take a look at what makes each deserve a spot on lists of the most dangerous places in the Bronx, the crime stats that are behind the scenes, but also a little of the history and culture.
The good news is that the Bronx isn’t what it once was. In the late-80s and 1990s, right up until the 2010s, some parts of this northern borough were basically no-go for travelers – even locals. They were inundated with organized crime and opportunistic street crime. They’ve cleaned up their acts across the board since then, but still demand would-be visitors keep those wits very much about them.
The area of Fordham, also known by its grander moniker Fordham Manor, spreads across the western edges of the Bronx. The Harlem River is the boundary to the west and the Grand Concourse – the busiest traffic through-road in the whole of the borough – carves right through the middle of it all.
There are a couple of faces to this corner of the Big Apple. These days, it’s often touted as a bit of an edgy arts and student district, a little like the subculture mecca of Exarcheia in Athens. That makes it dangerous but also alluring. That dark attraction is helped along by the presence of the Fordham University campus and the Bronx College, which offer up a steady supply of fun-loving young people to fuel the various dive bars and rock venues.
So, does Fordham really deserve a place on this list of the most dangerous places in the Bronx? The jury’s out. Pun totally intended! We say that because there certainly are people who love this part of the city. There are others who would warn any first-time traveler to the land of onion-doused hotdogs and taxicabs to stay far, far away, NYPD offers among them.
Let’s take a quick glance at the stats: The precinct as a whole is rated around about halfway down the whole list of New York City when it comes to safety (27th out of 69). Assaults are of particular concern, especially in the southerly parts of Fordham, where there are 126 incidents per 100k of population. Thankfully, all that’s nowhere near what it was in the 90s, when crimes in all categories were almost twice as common as they are now!
Bounded by the Bronx River on one side and the East River on the other, Hunts Point is one of the commercial nerve centers in the south of the borough. It’s a bustling place that’s perhaps best known as the home of the colossal Hunts Point Cooperative Market, a 60-acre wholesale trading space that’s now one of the biggest in the world – they say the meat that’s sold here goes to the tables of nearly 22 million New Yorkers each day!
There’s history, too. Records show that the first European settlers were likely Quakers from England. They arrived way back in the middle of the 1600s and quickly became very rich through preaching and trading. These days, much of the land is given over to social housing but there are also urban parks that have been regenerated in the last 20 years, such as the Riverside Park and its adjoining rollerblade rink.
Anyway, enough dithering. What about the safety record? Well…it ain’t good. Hunts Point is a part of the greater 41st Precinct, a designated policing area that ranks 67th out of a total of 69 for its levels of street crime. The neighborhood has some striking violent crime and homicide stats that make the city’s average look pale in comparison. Plus, the spot is known as one of the major locations for illegal prostitution in NYC.
Things got so darn bad around Hunts Point in the 1990s that people noticed. The Bronx branch of the NYPD used to call their station in the area Fort Apache. HBO even made docu-series titled Hookers at the Point. On the flip side, things really have improved a lot in the last two decades or so, with most types of crime dropping more than 50% in total since the turn of the millennium.
There are rumors flying around that the powers that be have put their finger on Port Morris as a potential site for all-new and fancy apartment blocks. It’s been whispered that the area’s prime location right on the edge of the East River, just a hop away from Harlem and Manhattan, makes it the perfect place for stylo new bedroom communities for the workers of the big city.
Whatever you think of that, gentrification in these parts still has one pretty darn hefty hurdle to get over. And that hurdle goes by the name of crime. A little like Hunts Point before it, which is just to the northeast, Port Morris has long been known for its high levels of corner crime and prostitution. Rates have been decreasing in the last decade, but the area still has a gritty rep and it’s not really safe to walk the streets alone or at night.
The rough-around-the-edges nature of the place is probably largely down to its history. Port Morris was once a major port and manufacturing center, and is thought to have seen plenty of trafficking of contraband in the later days of the 19th century. Today, it continues to host lots of light industry, which locals say is causing awful air pollution – they even call this southern sector of the Bronx Asthma Valley for short!
Longwood is a part of the very same 41st Precinct as aforementioned Hunt’s Point. That’s not good news. Not good at all. The crime rates in this cut-out of the Big Apple are among the worst in the metropolis – there are only two precincts more dangerous in NYC as a whole! To put things into perspective, up to 1,036 people per 100,000 head of the population are incarcerated here. That’s over 1% of the ENTIRE population!
Longwood is bounded by the Bruckner Expressway to the south. That marks the boundary with the more industrial areas of Hunts Point and Port Morris (see above). Past the Subway station of Hunts Point Av, notice how the streets become more residential, more commercial. That’s a testimony to the lived-in character of this corner of the city. It’s not, simply, an industrial port zone with nobody around.
There are some real charms to that. Stroll up Southern Boulevard and you’ll encounter a medley of Mexican delis and fast-food joints. Go south of that and there are handsome turn-of-the-century buildings lining up along the Longwood Historic District, each fronted with grand stairwells and rotund bay windows. Areas you certainly don’t want to venture are the four projects, from West Farms Square Rehab to Stebbins Avenue.
Highbridge is a potato-wedge-shaped corner of the Bronx that runs right down the edges of the Harlem River, facing Harlem itself directly across the water. On its other side, it’s basically hemmed in by a series of green spaces that make it, at first glace at least, seem downright lovely. There’s the Rev. T. Wendell Foster Park, for strolling and chilling, and the Macombs Dam Park, a community space with football fields for all.
The main draw, though, is surely the mighty Yankee Stadium. That towers over all in terms of stature and heritage. It covers a whopping 24 acres of city space and still reigns as one of the most expensive stadiums ever built – they say it totaled $2.3 billion by the time the venue was opened in 2009. That must be why tickets for baseball showdowns here will set you back over $60 a pop!
When you’re not vying for bargain stubs for a Yankees game, be sure to stay on high alert. Highbridge has both violent and non-violent crime rates that are well above the overall average for New York as a whole, and an incarceration rate that’s over 800 people per 100,000 head of population. Oh yea, and the air pollution here is awful, especially on cold winter days when the bad air gets trapped between the blocks.
The most dangerous places in the Bronx – our conclusion
The most dangerous places in the Bronx are typically the more industrial quarters of the borough. We’re talking the likes of Hunts Point and Port Morris. Those have a long history of street crime and prostitution, but have also been traditional stomping grounds for organized crime gangs.
Other areas like Highbridge and Fordham do suffer from lots of illegal activity but they are also changing fast, offering everything from major sports venues to happening student bars.
What’s more, it’s worth pointing out that crime rates across the Bronx have improved significantly since the 1990s, to the tune of over 60% or more in many cases.