Common Sense Advice / Sketchy Neighborhoods, Chicago
I've lived in Chicago for most of my life and know the city well. Down town area is fairly safe but watch out for groups of teenagers as they have been jumping and mugging people the last few years. Put your IPhone away in transit stops. If someone comes up to you and starts to talk to you at a bus stop etc watch around you for others. Do not go south of 37th for any reason as it is a war zone and they are animals. Do not ride El south of city. The El at on north side is ok but don't ride it at night (say 8-9pm latest). Take a cab on your way back home as it is much safer. Its a nice city, but no, it is not safe in my opinion.
There is absolutely no comparison! The Hyde Park/Bronzeville area is one of the nicest I have seen and or lived in simce being in this city! There is crime EVERYWHERE... and these areas are no different. IDK what the poster is talking about, as the homes are beautiful, and chock full of professinals and students from the surrounding universities. Not to mention, we have tour busses daily coming throught to view the hostoic mansions as well as POTUS' home. What are you talking about? Have you ever been to teh area? Do not let on persons review allow you to miss out on the jewel that is Hyde Park!
I was just reading what other people thought of my home city (didn't get very far) and came across a rather ridiculous piece of advice lumping Hyde Park with Englewood.
Hyde Park is probably my favorite area in the city. 57th street is full of book stores and little storefront restuarants, Harold Washington Park has its own colony of monk parakeets, the residential houses are gorgeous, and both the University and the Museum of Science and Industry reside there.
Crime does occur from time to time (mostly from those who come in from the poor neighborhoods adjacent) but it is generally safe, one of the few areas on the south side that can claim that.
So don't let that person two posts down scare you, it is well worth visiting. It lies right off the electric line so getting there from the loop is a breeze.
While I agree with most of the advice I've read here so far, I want to add that there are a lot of instances where common sense won't save you from being in a potentially dangerous situation. I've been mugged in my own neighborhood, Noble Square, which is currently an up-and-coming area with a lot of wealthy homeowners developing the properties. That was at 5 in the evening, with people everywhere walking with their dogs or children. I've also had a gun pointed at me in Lincoln Park on a weekday at noon right in front of Victory Gardens Theatre, which isn't in a bad part of town. I'd have rated both of those situations as very safe prior to those incidents. Crime in Chicago isn't limited to the so-called "bad" neighborhoods, or people that are walking targets for things like muggings, etc. It's best to travel with others, keep anything really valuable in an interior pocket of your coat (not in your purse), and don't be afraid to say something or even scream if you're in a dangerous situation. If other people aren't aware something is happening to you, they won't be able to help you.
While a lot of people seem to show the so called good side of the Hyde Park/Kenwood/Englewood communities. The only endearing thing about them is that the University of Chicago is located there. Unfortunately if you are a tourist or even a resident of the city(for that matter) you should stay away from these areas. In the base 10 months there has been a startling increase in violent crime such as assaults, armed robberies and homicides. Englewood is one of the most dangerous communities in all of America. If you are visiting Chicago, Please stay away from these areas as they are infested with gang activity and drug related crimes.
Look, I'm a white woman from a small town that is 99.9% white, and I'm pretty familiar with the Englewood/W. Englewood areas, and Calumet heights/S. Deering area.
Yeah I was very nervous when I first started driving in there to see my boyfriend bcuz everywhere I look, I was like the only white person around. But some of yall need to chill because it aint really that bad. If you accidentally find yourself goin thru there, just mind your biz and keep going. Even then, they aint gonna F with ya unless you dis them.
I'd suggest that if you there by accident, and you aren't use to the street gang atmosphere that you especially stay away from the areas in Englewood from Halsted to Ashland down around 79th street (ish).
And the area south of 95th st. around Torrence Ave.
Personally this is where I spend most of my time because of my boyfriend and all of his (our) friends are around there.
For such a big city I found the central areas of Chicago that I wandered around to feel incredibly safe, especially the areas north of the Loop. The Magnificent Mile, where many of the tourist hotels are located, felt safe 24 hours a day. South of central has a bad reputation, but the few areas around there worth visiting felt safe too. The city does have a crime problem, so you might want to be careful where you wander, but it doesn't seem to be directed at tourists. I think if you stick to the central areas you'll be fine.
I saw one group of thugs the entire week I was there, who spat on and threatened a homeless guy, but they didn't bother me. Apart from that everyone was incredibly friendly.
The southside of chicago is a huge place it's not just a few streets so be aware that people who don't live on the southside don't really know it. There are areas to the north, east, and west of the city that are dangerous. This is a big city we are plagued with city elements. All of this is to say that the southside is a wonderful place and people should not be put off by what people who don't know the area say.
Chicago has several areas that have been gentrifying lately and many that used to be questionable (e.g. Chinatown) are now generally safe.
That said, there are many parts of the city where there's just a few block's difference between generally safe and potentially dangerous. There are also places where unsafe behavior will rapidly make you a target of pickpocketing or sometimes violent crime.
A few examples.
1. The "safe zone" around Chinatown is expanding both north and south. You should likely have no problems at all taking the El or a bus there, or a problem driving.
2. While the Division Street bars are in a very safe neighborhood (the Gold Coast) if you're drunk at night, you're running a fairly high risk of getting pickpocketed and some risk of getting mugged. The criminals know that this is a place to find drunk tourists and yuppies on weekend nights and that it's easy to run down to the El and get lost in the crowd.
3. Downtown can be quite deserted at night and this can be disconcerting. While there's not a high incidence of crime, there's also not much safety in numbers if somebody should threaten you. However, the busier north-south streets (Wacker, Clark, State, Michigan) have a decent supply of cabs. You can also usually find cabs near the Metra stations (Ogilve, aka the Northwestern Station, and Union Station) and some of the bigger hotels. The door attendants at these hotels are usually quite friendly about flagging a cab for you even if you don't stay at the hotel.
Attitude is a big part of safety. If you look like you know where you're going and that you know the territory, criminals will look for a safer target. If you wander from an area where you feel safe to one that feels wrong to you, retrace your steps and wait for a cab.
Chicago is a large city and has the same crime problems as any large urban area. Use common sense and the same precautions you would in any large city and you should be fine. Watch for pickpockets on public transportation and on the street, don't walk in deserted parks/streets after dark and grab a taxi if you feel uncomfortable in your surroundings or are traveling late in the evening and don't know where you are going
During the day or night it is generally safe to walk on well lit/high traffic streets near the Magnificent Mile, River North and the Gold Coast. The loop (business district) is safe during daytime hours but after the business people go home for the day, it becomes a lot less populated. You might think about taking a cab if it's late at night.
If you are venturing into the neighborhoods, ask your concierege about the safety of the area and the best way to get there, sometimes public transportation is perfectly fine, sometimes you are better off using a cab, esp. if you are traveling solo.
There's probably no reason for anyone to venture into the worst neighborhoods in Chicago since they typically don't have any tourist attractions or restaurants that would appeal to tourists. Neighborhoods change quickly though, empty lots, bars on windows, lots of beat up cars and housing projects are usually a really good sign that you are somewhere you don't belong. I've inadvertantly driven through a couple of these areas recently trying to avoid highway construction, Austin and Englewood are two of the worst, if you are not familiar with where you are going, stick to the major highways even if it means a little more time in traffic.
I've lived in the Chicago area for all of my life, and many of these tips are a little harsh. Chicago is, for the most part, a safe, clean city. There are definitely some areas that are nicer than others, but it isn't necessary to be nervous or afraid.
I agree with dlant. I'm in sales, my territory being the South & West Side of Chicago. Although, I have been mugged once, generally speaking during the daytime hours you will be safe. The west side (Chicago Ave starting past 2000W block and continuing almost down to Midway) is by far the worst, and most dangerous. The South Side past Hyde Park and University of Chicago is also fairly bad. However, the South is experience a decent urban renewal and gentrification lately. For tourist, I would stay out of those areas, there's not much to see except for poverty, abandoned houses/factories, drugs and gangs. Generally speaking, you’re fairly safe during the day, and early on in the evening. Gang members are in the business of selling drugs, not shooting random people they don't know. They get nothing out of it and they wouldn’t want the attention from the police. However, shootings *DO* happen, maybe not towards you, but towards other gang members, and you don't want to be in the line of fire of a stray bullet. Long story short, stick to the main attractions of Chicago. If you find yourself accidentally in those neighborhoods, drive east towards downtown (this includes the South Side, you'll eventually end up on Lake Shore Drive, then take it North) Or if you're on foot, get to your destination quickly, but don't attract attention to yourself and do not let anyone try to pull you a side to “ask a question”. If you do find yourself in a situation where you are being mugged, don't try to be the hero or the tough guy, just hand over your wallet politely, don’t make a big deal about it and suck it up as a loss.
Generally, Chicago is a incredibly safe and friendly city, with lots of interesting things to do and see in the Loop, South Loop, North Side, and the Near West side (Greek Town, Buck Town, Logan Square, Wicker Park and China town). Just use some common sense, know where you are going and how to get there. Most of all enjoy your stay here and enjoy exploring!
Not everyone needs to worry about this tip, but it is a good idea to keep in mind that many of the suburbs tend to be much more conservative than the city itself and it is much easier to run afoul of the law. This may be unlikely to see you put in prison unless you do something really dumb, but it can cause you other kinds of inconveniences. For example, if you forget on turn your headlights on in the city, the police are likely to pull alongside you and shout, "Hey @$$hole, turn your lights on" and drive off. In the suburbs, the same offense is likely to have you ticketed and get your car sniffed by a drug dog. They aren't overtly racist, but if you are darker skinned or don't speak English very well, or are white but outwardly appear to conform to some negatively stereotyped group like bikers or rockers or rappers, you could find yourself drawing attention you don't want. Even if less than enlightened, these police agencies do have the full powers of law enforcement and they can make your life miserable.
Your typical tourist isn't likely to spend much time in the "burbs" and I don't want to overstate the warning here because 99% of you will never run into a problem, but it really is a very different environment with very different attitudes about authority, behaviour and conformity.
What I love about the fact that people perceive Chicago as dangerous is that it keeps the prices down at some of my favorite restaurants. I mean seriously...if everyone who visited chicago suddently realized that they wouldn't be immediately murdered, mugged or raped if they left the magnificent mile or lincoln park area, then demand would surely go up for the stuff that the rest of us love. Am I right?
Kidding aside...Chicago is only dangerous if you don't look before you cross the street. Those cabbies don't stop for anyone!
Wrigley Field, where the Chicago Cubs play, sits in the Wrigleyville neighborhood on the North side. Not a bad area, but be mindful of con artists hanging around outside the ball park, pulling scams from pidgeon drops to selling fake tickets. Pickpockets love this spot, also. After the game, be mindful of the people who've had too much to drink during the game. The White Sox play on the South side at US Cellular Field (formerly Cominsky Park). The same things you should watch out for at Wrigley Field, apply at US Cellular. People of color should also be alert for racial incidents. They don't happen much around Wrigley, but US Celluar is not far from a neighborhood that is less than welcoming to people who don't look like they do.