Safety in New York

Safety in New York

Safety in New York is not something you have to worry about, as it’s considered the safest city in the United States. In the ranking of the cities with the highest crime rate worldwide, New York is not even among the top 200 cities. Naturally, you should still be careful. The crime rate in New York has dropped dramatically in recent years and crimes against tourists are rare. However, keep a close eye on your valuables in busy places. For keeping safe in New York, I recommend following the tips below.


Travel safely as a tourist in New York

I get the question often whether New York is safe, whether you can explore New York alone as a woman and which things you should pay attention to in New York. I can quickly answer the first two questions with a loud YES! New York is as safe as large cities in Canada. If you use common sense and follow a few basic rules, then you really don’t need to be afraid.

In all the years that I call New York my home, nothing worth mentioning has really happened to me. Thankfully, I’ve never heard from friends or other New York fans that they’ve been robbed. Please don’t worry too much about this, the main thing is looking forward to your well-deserved vacation in New York!

The police presence may be a bit stronger than in Canada but that doesn’t mean there’s more crime in New York than elsewhere. New York’s bad reputation comes from the 1970s and 1980s when New York City and especially the subway were considered dangerous.

Fortunately, times have changed! Nowadays, New York is the flagship of the United States when it comes to metropolitan security. Keep the following rules in mind so you can focus on sightseeing with ease.

What do you have to consider in New York?

  • Don’t act like a stereotypical tourist. This means that you shouldn’t be walking around with a huge city map, also avoid dangling your expensive camera around your neck. Keep your eyes open and pay attention to your surroundings.
  • Don’t wander around aimlessly if you get lost. With my free Eric’s New York app, you can see where you are thanks to GPS even without the Internet. All subway lines are also shown on the city map so you can quickly get from one point to another.
  • If you really don’t know what to do, just kindly ask a New Yorker. New Yorkers are helpful and try to explain something by hand if necessary so don’t be afraid to ask for help. If no one is around, try the staff in a shop or cafe.
  • Leave your valuables in the hotel safe and keep a copy of your passport there for emergencies. You can also use luggage storage on the go. This is especially practical as large bags are not permitted in many places, such as events and museums.
  • When you’re on the go, always stow your valuables safely (a zipped bag is better than an open pocket) and take good care of them. Don’t leave your belongings unattended, even if you only have to go to the toilet briefly.
  • The subway is safe. However, fewer people travel on the subway at night, which if you’re alone this doesn’t give you the safest feeling. If you’re not in a large group, it’s better to take a taxi late at night. Especially if you are outside of Manhattan.
  • Parks such as Central Park are easy to visit during the day. However, I advise against visiting at night. Likewise, you should generally avoid dark and deserted areas.

Dangerous neighbourhoods of New York

In films and TV series, it looks like New York is a very dangerous city and the police force can quickly give this impression. However, the way the crime rate is depicted is presented in a very exaggerated way. Manhattan is New York‘s safest neighbourhood. Other neighbourhoods such as Queens or Brooklyn can also be visited during the day without hesitation.

However, I don’t recommend walking around Harlem or the Bronx at night but using a taxi instead. I am often asked about places that should not be visited, this can’t really be generalised. Although as a tourist, you shouldn’t necessarily visit the South Bronx, Mott Haven, Hunts Point or Fordham. Brooklyn also has areas that are not quite as inviting, such as Brownsville. In some neighbourhoods, the circumstances may change depending on the block, so be vigilant.

Avoiding Fraud in New York

New York City has fewer scams compared to other cities around the world. This means you probably won’t even come into contact with potential scams. However, it’s good to know that there are things you can do to take appropriate precautions.

  • Unfortunately, pickpockets also operate in New York. Thieves quickly catch vulnerable people, especially in places where many people are. Keep an eye out for your bags and valuables, especially in Times Square. Other popular places for light fingers are Grand Central Station and Port Authority. You should remain vigilant especially during the rush hour of the subway.
  • Is something very cheap? It’s probably too good to be true! This is true for certain electronics stores in Times Square and around the Empire State Building, which also sell souvenirs. Avoid these stores, it’ll save you a lot of trouble.
  • Only take the official yellow taxis in New York. Don’t take an illegal taxi, the so-called “Gypsy Cab” even if the driver makes you a very good offer. Taxis are waiting at the official stands at the airport. If you get an aggressive offer in the waiting hall, then you can assume that it is a Gypsy Cab driver.
  • Ignore ticket vendors on the street, you’ve no guarantee that these tickets are actually valid. Even if they are valid, you are paying a much higher price than the tickets are actually worth. The supposed bargain quickly turns into a letdown so if you want to save on tickets, I recommend a discount pass instead to be on the safe side. This way you’ll know your tickets are 100% real and you’ll save money!
  • You can ignore the showmen in Times Square, disguised as popular characters from movies for example. It’s better not to take pictures of them because you’ll be aggressively asked for tips. If you feel bothered by Spiderman, Elmo or the Statue of Liberty, you can always talk to the police.

Is New York safe?

New York City is generally safe, but there are some things to keep in mind and places to avoid at night. You can see my tips here.

Is New York safe at night?

Yes, it definitely is. However, it’s still good to keep in mind some precautions when you're sightseeing or having a drink at night.

Is The Bronx safe?

The Bronx is still considered by many to be the “dangerous neighbourhood” of New York. Read more here to find out which areas you should avoid.

How safe is Manhattan?

Of all the neighbourhoods in New York, Manhattan is the safest place for tourists. With a few basic rules, you can enjoy your vacation in the Big Apple even better.

Is Brooklyn safe?

Brooklyn is an interesting neighbourhood that’s a great contrast to Manhattan. Read more here to know which area you should avoid.

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