Is Harlem Safe To Visit? Everything You Need To Know Before Traveling


is harlem safe

Harlem is a vibrant neighborhood and the cultural mecca of African-American history and culture. It’s a neighborhood where you can see historic sites, taste amazing food, hear amazing jazz music and feel the electric energy of its residents.

Lets deep dive into the statistics and talk to the residents of the city to give you a better understanding of how safe the city really is.

Is Harlem Safe?

Looking only at the crime statistics, Harlem is a slightly unsafe safe place to visit. In 2020, Harlem had a violent crime rate of 802.81 incidents per 100,000 residents. Out of the 100 most populous cities in the United States, Harlem’s violent crime rate is the 29th highest in the nation. Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and Tuscon all have similar violent crime rates as Harlem.

Harlem’s Crime Rate Map

Harlem is part of Manhattan Community District 10 and it is patrolled by the 23rd, 25th, 28th, 30th and 32nd Precincts of the New York City Police Department.

Here’s a map showing you the crime rate for the different precincts of Harlem. The darker areas have higher rates of crime:

harlem crime map

23rd Precinct: 14.7457 Crimes per 1000 residents

25th Precinct: 25.2505 Crimes per 1000 residents

28th Precinct: 19.7182 Crimes per 1000 residents

30th Precinct: 12.7709 Crimes per 1000 residents

32nd Precinct: 15.5056 Crimes per 1000 residents

Harlem’s Population

We couldn’t get an official count of the population of Harlem through census data or through a governement agency. However, were able to get a rough estimate of the population of by cross-refrencing the zip codes of Harlem with their corresponding population count:

*If you see an error in our methodology to estimate the population of Harlem, please let us know and we will correct it.

Harlem Zip Codes: Population
10026 38,585
10027 64,988
10030 31,060
10037 20,462
10039 27,854
10029 76,713
10035 36,048
Totals: 295,710

We also cross-referenced the NYPD crime map, which showed the population of each precinct and tallied those numbers up.

Harlem Zip Codes: Population
Precinct-23 73,106
Precinct-25 47,405
Precinct-28 44,781
Precinct-30 60,685
Precinct-32 70,942
Totals: 296,919

We averaged the zip code counts and the precinct counts and our estimate for the population for Harlem is 296,314 residents.

Now that we have a rough estimate of the population of Harlem, we are able to calculate crime rates and are able to give you a fuller picture of the safety of Harlem.

Harlem Crime Stats

Here’s a breakdown of all the crimes in Harlem for 2020:

  Precinct 23 – East Harlem Precinct 25 – North East-Harlem Precinct 28 – Central Harlem Precinct 30 – West Harlem Precinct 32 – Northeastern Harlem Harlem Totals:
Homicide 9 12 7 4 9 41
Rape 17 12 15 13 21 78
Robbery 168 216 144 164 167 859
Aggravated Assault 318 317 207 167 387 1396
Burglary 154 172 147 103 128 704
Larceny/Theft 346 417 317 264 321 1665
Motor Vehicle Theft 66 25 47 59 67 264
Totals: 1,078 1197 884 774 1100 5007

*All data is from the NYPD CompStat

In 2020 Harlem had a violent crime rate of 801.17 per 100,000 people.

The national average for violent crime is 366.7 per 100,000 residents and the national average for property crime is 2,109.9 per 100,000 residents. Harlem’s violent crime rate is 2.18 times more than the national average.

**Violent crimes include; homicides, rape, robbery and aggravated assaults and the violent crime rate is calculated by dividing the number of reported crimes by the total population; the result is multiplied by 100,000.

Harlem Murder Stats

In 2020 Harlem reported 41 homicides, which gives it a murder rate of 13.86 per 100,000 residents. The national murder rate is 5 per 100,000 people. Harlem’s murder rate is about 2.77 times than the national average.

Harlem vs The Most Dangerous Cities In The United States

Here’s a list of the top 10 most dangerous cities in the United States ranked by violent crime rate. It can give you some perspective on Harlem’s violent crime rate, which is 802.81 per 100,000 people.

Harlem’s violent crime rate is 3 times LESS than Memphis, the most dangerous city on the list.

City Population Number of violent crimes in 2020 Rate per 100,000 people
Memphis 633,104 15,310 2,418.24
Detroit 639,111 14,370 2,248.44
Baltimore 2,707,064 9,273 2,027.01
St. Louis 301,578 6,017 1,995.17
Little Rock 202,591 3,657 1,805.11
South Bend 103,453 1,765 1,706.09
Cleveland 372,624 6,281 1,685.61
Milwaukee 577,222 9,407 1,629.70
Kansas City 508,090 7,919 1,558.58
Lansing 112,644 1,699 1,508.29
Springfield 169,176 2,545 1,504.35

*All data is from the 2019 FBI Crime Stats Report**

What do residents of Harlem say about its safety

  1. "West and Central Harlem have a very different feel from East Harlem at night."
  2. "The further east you go the sketchier it gets."
  3. "East Harlem is not great, there are worse areas of the city but it’s definitely not somewhere I’d want to live."
  4. "East Harlem overall that is not the best part of town, but it really depends drastically on the exact cross streets."
  5. "Basically with west Harlem, the further west you go, the better.’"
  6. "Generally you want to stay west of Broadway when you are in West Harlem."
  7. "The east side of Harlem can be a bit of a toss up in terms of safety at times depending on location."
  8. "I was born and raised in NYC and have spent a good amount of time in Harlem. You’re fine as long as you’re minding your ownbusiness. Most crimes are not random and are between two people who are beefing."
  9. "I live in Harlem. It’s fine. You won’t get mugged. If you’re near a park, there might be loud parties on random nights, but that’s more an inconvenience than a safety issue."
  10. "Harlem is safe. Seriously. It’s flooded with cops. We have so many police precincts up here. The only neighborhoods I think you should avoid are East New York and Brownsville."
  11. "If you don’t feel comfortable around minorities and with people who are both culturally and socioeconomically different than you, you probably won’t like Harlem."
  12. "West Harlem is far better than East. I live in East Harlem and it’s dodgy at times."
  13. "I am not a fan of East Harlem. It is poorly lighted and there are many drug addicts. I definitely prefer West Harlem."
  14. "Harlem has calmed down a lot but certain parts are still active in East Harlem. "

Is East Harlem safe?

While East Harlem is statistically the unsafest part of Harlem, it is by no means a war zone, where shootings, robberies and murder are constant. Be careful walking around at night, don’t get involved in illicit activities and don’t wander around the housing projects and you should be fine.

Is Harlem safe at night?

Harlem is safe at night, but If you are visiting New York and don’t know the layout of Harlem, we suggest you stick to the west side of Harlem, as certain parts of East Harlem can get sketchy at night.

Driving tour of Harlem:

Is it safe to visit alone?

Harlem is a safe place to visit alone. However you should take special precautions at night as you will be more vulnerable to becoming a victim of crime.

Tips To Stay Safe In Harlem

  • Avoid strolling too long through most “housing” projects. They usually have a sign posted outside" … housing” or “… houses.”
  • Walk with confidence, like you know where exactly you are going.
  • Don’t engage with strangers if they come up to you. If someone stops you on the street and wants to ask you a question, look busy, ignore them and keep walking. Dont entertain or talk to them.
  • Don’t make eye contact with people that try and stop you on the street. For the most part they are rarely dangerous but they will try to scam you in one way or another.
  • Ignore crazy people on the subway or the streets, even if they talk to you.
  • Always stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Don’t take anything from anyone trying to give you something on the streets – just walk past them and ignore.
  • Don’t leave your phone, purse or any belongings at the bar or restaurant or anywhere, really. Take them with you. Losing your seat is < losing your phone
  • Avoid dark empty streets. Keep to well populated areas. If you look down the street and see lots of other pedestrians and outdoor dining, it’s fine. If it’s completely deserted and looks desolate, go up the next block instead.
  • If you ever feel threatened or uncomfortable, always head into a store. Do NOT go into an alley, off the main streets or into the subway.
  • Avoid all parks after dark.
  • If anyone tries to give you anything or asks you for money for something, it’s almost 100% a scam.
  • Don’t take the subway late at night. Yellow cabs and Uber are a better option if you’re out past 10pm.
  • Try not to look like a tourist.

Final Thoughts

After analyzing the crime statistics and talking to the residents of the city, we have come to the conclusion that Harlem is a slightly unsafe place to visit. It’s crime stats are not alarming and many residents agree that Harlem is a fairly safe place to visit. The only problem area is East Harlem. You should be able to mitigate your chances of being a crime while visiting Harlem, if you follow the safety tips above and avoid going into East Harlem at night.

Other Cities You Might Be Interested In:

Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Baltimore, Barstow, The Bronx, Compton, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Corpus Christi, El Paso, Fort Worth, Gary, Harlem, Houston, Indianapolis, Inglewood, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Memphis, Milwaukee, Nashville, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Reno, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Bernardino, San Jose, Seattle, Slab City, St. Louis, Stockton

Mariska Lee

Mariska is a recovering attorney who gave up her professional job to discover new perspectives of life while traveling in a 2009 Ford Transit. She has been living the van life for 3 years and has not looked back since.

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