The 5 Most Dangerous Cities in the U.S.

Alexis Flippin, AARP, February 10, 2012

Every year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) releases its annual Uniform Crime Report. From this report, we can list (statistically) America’s most dangerous cities. {snip}

Don’t let this list get you down, though. The overall picture is actually much sunnier: Even though economic woes are up, crime (particularly violent crime) is down in the United States, and it’s been trending downward for the last five years. But that doesn’t mean you should abandon common sense wherever and whenever you travel. In general, avoid deserted areas, particularly at night, leave your valuables at home, and park in well-lighted areas. {snip}

1. Flint, Mich.

The birthplace of General Motors went into a tailspin when the auto industry collapsed and its workforce went from 80,000 to around 8,000. {snip} With a median income of $27,049—a whopping 46 percent below the national average—and 36 percent of its population living below the poverty line, gang activity and drugs have hit Flint hard. {snip}

2. Detroit

Few cities have had as precipitous a decline as Detroit. The bankrupt auto industry, the collapse of the housing bubble and the flight from the inner city—all have had a hand in Detroit’s Shakespearean fall from vital Midwestern hub to urban wasteland. {snip}

3. St. Louis

This handsome riverfront city has plenty to recommend it, including several major sports teams and art museums. But violent crime, particularly gunplay, has exacted a grim toll. St. Louis has the country’s second-highest citywide gunshot rate for residents between the ages of 10 and 19—a sorry statistic, indeed. It also recorded 41 murders per 100,000 people, five times the national average. {snip}

4. New Haven, Conn.

The home of prestigious Yale University, New Haven has long wrestled with inner-city crime and poverty, and the result is a high ranking on the list of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. It had nearly 628 robberies per 100,000 people—nearly triple the number found in comparable urban areas. The good news is that violent crime dropped by 11 percent in the first six months of 2011, a regional trend. {snip}

5. Memphis, Tenn.

{snip} But Memphis has struggled with poverty and gang activity for years, and the city’s 2010 robbery statistics were double that of the national average, earning it a spot on the list of the most dangerous cities in the U.S. The bigger picture is rosier: Violent crime has dropped 23 percent in the last five years, and efforts to stem youth involvement in crime have become shining examples for similarly afflicted urban areas.

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