Don't go anywhere south of the loop. The entire strech from about Chinatown to the suburbs is very dangerous. There is nothing to see anywhere south of the loop except for Comiskey and the Museum of Science and Industry. If you have to travel to Science and Industry take the South Shore Line or Metra. Those trains are safe. Stay off the 'L' south of downtown.
It is also dangerous to go west of city until about where I-294 is.
Don't use the subway at night. There are a lot of bums and vagrants begging for change and they might rob you.
Stay off Division St. Cabrini-Green is there and that is a very dangerous area for anyone to walk around no matter the time of day.
Every country has their own dangers, and Chicago too. For ex. in a South part of Chicago I didn't feel comfortable going to the beach(just for a walk) ...looks a bit dirty and with strangers around... Only one time it was really nice to spend there an hour or so when we found nobody there... only seagulls...
It's no secret that Chicago has a high crime rate. After all, this was the home of Al Capone and the Andersen accounting firm.
Nevertheless, you shouldn't feel frightened here if you practice common sense when moving about.
In general, I would avoid the South, West, and far North sides of the city unless you're with someone you trust that knows the city well. The Loop is fairly safe, but when the sun goes down, be careful and try not to be alone too much if you can help it.
In a city like Chicago, you'll find criminals of every kind. Beware of scam operations that target tourists. Don't do any business with anyone on the street, and if you're taking taxis, at nighttime make sure you're in a place where cabs will serve.
If you're anywhere around the Loop, you're certain to see a number of vagrants begging for money. If you have a soft heart, you may be in for spending alot more than you bargained for. My advice is to give to those with cups who'll appreciate it. Though many a sob story may be authentic, there are thousands who beg for a living, and if you give them a dollar, they will try to get more.
It offers an invaluable example of the ugly side of American capitalism, racism, and greed.
Stay out of the ghetto. I made the mistake of trying to walk back to my hotel from Bucktown. I took a short cut and ended up in Cabrini Green. I quickly found myself a cab. No problems but not a good neighborhood. It's a good idea to ask before you wander around town. Other than that I felt very safe walking around at night by myself. In the summer there are plenty of people in the streets till late.
Chicago is a beautiful city and very welcoming for tourists, however, this is a BIG CITY so use caution here as you would in any big city. In all tourist areas such as Navy Pier or Michigan Avenue there are plenty of information-type spots or retail stores to ask questions in. I would not advise asking people on the street.
Don't get me wrong, this is a great place, but there are also a lot of people on the streets looking for vulnerable tourists.
Stay away from Cabrini Green and the South Side. Cabrini Green is known as 'the projects' and is actually the place where the nightmarish tale takes place in the movie, 'Candyman.' They will be tearing it down soon, but in the meantime, stay away from that area. It is on the west side of Halsted St. The south side is anything south of the Loop. Definitely NOT the kind of place you want to be stuck in, especially at night!
Avoid Cabrini Green and most of southside. Chicago might appear as a safe city, but there are dozens of so called islands in the city, where living is safe but outside of it is not. Take for example University of Chicago. It is safe, but the surrounding neighborhoods are very dangerous.
There are a lot of gangs in Chicago, but they usually quarrel amongst themselves. If you're not looking for trouble, you won't find it.
Update: Cabrini Green doesn't really exist anymore, since the area is now 'class-elevated' by expensive new condominiums and strip malls.
Caution is the key here. Like any big city, you should use common sense and try to avoid any area which is dark and isolated. Be aware of your sorroundings and always have your money in a safe place (money belt, bra?). What I usually do is know exactly where I am going, how to get there and if I am taking the metro, have my ticket in hand. Pickpocketers are found in every major city, so being alert is your best bet. Leave expensive jewelry at home and never carry more money then you need. Leave your passport and extra cash and travelers checks at the hotel safe. If you are staying at a hostel, I would recommend that you carry your important belongings in a seperate small bag, pack or shoulder bag. Make sure you have copies of your passport and numbers of travelers checks (if you carry these) in a seperate location for just in case they are lost or stolen. The number to your local authorities is a good idea.
it is a big city, need to say more???
Well maybe as a comfort, I didn't feel unsafe at all in Chicago, felt pretty safe actually.
This is the jail in downtown Chicago. You do not want to end up here. So be nice and don't break the law.
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