Bad Neighborhoods, New Orleans
It's an unfortunate situation where you can't walk around as a tourist everywhere in the city, but it's a fact of life in most cities in the US. New Orleans is no different and, in many ways, is worse.
One area that you may find information about avoiding is Mid-City, which runs along Canal Street and Tulane Avenue north from I-10. This area has changed dramatically in the past five years and, as it stands, it is generally safe to go to Mid-City along Canal Street and north to Esplanade, a credit to the streetcar line running from Canal up to Lakeview. There are actually quite a few restaurants, bars and cafes in a very pretty part of town, and following the streetcar north to its end puts you in front of some of the larger iconic cemeteries in the city. However, you should not venture too far south/west of Canal, as this is where it starts to get more dangerous for tourists. It's an area that was hard hit by the hurricanes and has not really recovered.
Just north of the French Quarter is another area to avoid, that many tourists get caught in trying to visit the cemeteries. As soon as you cross Rampart from both sides of Canal Street (the CBD and French Quarter), you enter a fairly dangerous neighborhood. The Basin Street Projects are relatively dangerous, but it gets worse as you cross I-10 and enter a depopulated region between Canal and Esplanade. Be careful of the area north of Rampart during the day, and absolutely do not go there at night. Do not ever venture north of I-10 and east Canal. If you need to go north, take the streetcar.
Marigny, the area just east of the French Quarter across Esplanade, is generally a safe area. Bywater, just to the east of there, is also generally safe and has seen quite a bit of gentrification in the past five years. However, both of these neighborhoods end at St. Claude Avenue, and that's where you should stop. North of there is not safe to walk around.
Don't be scared of exploring the neighborhoods of New Orleans, but also be aware how quickly these neighborhoods can become unsafe.
In New Orleans, bullets have names. Don't worry so much unless you make yourself widely available, like not being from here (or that area specifically) and walking alone through the projects at night. White? Black? It won't matter. Some people get killed for stupid things, like people from Texas, who feel they can wander around where ever, then they find they crossed some barricade and fell in the river and weren't murdered at all.
The French Quarter
is fine. Mostly transplants live there, from the ones in townhouses to the crust punks and hippies squatting in the streets. There's a high police presence, and SDT does a pretty decent job of cleaning up when the crowds die down. Of course, try to avoid going north of Rampart St into Treme
is Hell on Earth. I work on the edge of Treme by the Iberville Housing Development. It's OK during the day, in front of a busy building. They'll know if you're from out of town. We all day. Just they will prey upon you.
The Marigny & Bywater - Upper Ninth
are fine if you the Bohemian type. A lot of locals cross right over Esplanade Ave into the Marigny to go to Frenchmen St. Don't go north of St Claude Ave into St. Roch/Gentilly. Don't go on St Claude Ave. Don't cross over the industrial canal into the Lower Ninth.
CBD/Warehouse District/Garden District/Carrollton/Audobon Park/Broadmoor
Watch out for foot traffic. You're more likely to get raped or robbed than killed here. Try to park by Tulane kids from Connecticut/New York. They will have a nicer car than you, which will be broken into first.
Don't even go there during the day.
Is Ok by the park and lake.
Bayou St John
Go to Micks
Includes Bayou St John, Treme, and a few others. Stretches through most of the middle of the city. Once you pass Jeff Davis, you'll be fine. Pretty much everything from N. Rampart to Jeff Davis is Hell on Earth.
Not touristy. Residential. Lakefront. Mostly professionals. Quiet & safe. Don't come here. I live here.
I lived in N.O. prior to katrina. I now live near phoenix. I have lived in several large cities. I started out homeless in N.O. and i lived on north roman, by the 8th ward. I am a scrawny, short, white boy and besides with the homeless in jackson square I spent much time in the 8th & 9th ward. these are "bad neiborhoods" as the wards tend to be. I have never really had any big problems. its all how you carry yourself. If you are not familiar with big cities ( or anywhere really ) its best not to travel alone or unprepaired! use your brains!
I travel around USA --California, Texas, Georgia, etc.-- and most often I stay at hostels, which i select based on reviews and Google mapping. There i mostly walk (some miles daily) to my conference places, usually located in fancy places downtown. Evenings i usually go out jogging in the neighborhood, even when it seems a tad risky - i rely on common sense and accept some risk. So far so good, except this evening in NO.
Despite the warnings re. the area between N. Rampart, S Clairbone, Canal and Esplanade, tonite i seemingly have crossed into a forbidden turf: the Marais Str. inside the Iberville area. Many in the know would say that i was looking for it, and indeed - I was assaulted by a gang (9-12) of black youngsters. Being too old for facing off a dozen guys half my age and 30-50% over my size, I relied on speed & endurance to escape. However, one of those who gave me chase was faster - so he caught up, pulled a gun and shot me once, then twice more. He got me in the neck and cheeckbone... with paintball... Then he gave up, being alone with me, relatively far from his gang.
Was this just a game? Nope. They have asked for my money, which I refused to provide - with a running NO. They also hit me in the back, nothing serious. Do I blame them for my Darwin Award class of stupidity? Nope. I have entered their quarters at night in an area where even the police (to which i reported the assault) doesn't go w/o serious reasons. Would a gun help? Not really against a dozen who stand to loose less than you do... plus it creates a violent, instead of safe, state of mind. I'd rather get robbed of a few tens $, or even beaten... than shoot a boy who doesn't know any better than the games, movies and the rap he was exposed to...
Does my scare make N.O. more dangerous, or less beautiful and friendly? No.
Inform yourself thru Google, ask the locals to color your maps --perhaps an updated Google Maps Good & Bad overlay would help all!-- use common sense, drive-only thru the questionable areas... but don't be too scared to walk this great city, and to experience its people, music and food. The rewards excel the risks. Enjoy. Mitch
My boyfriend and I were visiting a friend of his a couple years ago at a bar called Finn McCool's in New Orleans. While my boyfriend was born in Shreveport, we now live in Florida and neither of us were very familiar with New Orleans. His friend had told us to turn down Bank Street, but because a lot of the street signs were knocked down during Katrina we ended up make a wrong turn down Baudin Road. I have been to New York, Los Angeles, Chicago...but this was the scariest thing I have ever experienced at home or on vacation. A line of teenagers were blocking the road staring down our car, refusing to let us pass. We sat there frozen, unsure of what we should do. Confusion turned to panic when we saw one of the young men lift up his shirt to expose his pistol that was tucked into the waist of his pants. Another young man made a gesture to him which made the first guy let go of his gun. Slowly, they cleared the road for us to go by and we swore to never ever make that mistake again.
I don't know much about neighborhoods in the area, because I don't have much interest in going back anytime soon (though Finn's was a lovely time). But I do recommend that you avoid Baudin Road and all unfamiliar areas, especially at night when the separation between "ghetto" and "mansion" can easily become blurred. The only good thing that came out of it is that is shocked my boyfriend and I into discussing what we need to do if ever in that emergency situation again. For the record, on his insistence I take off running and don't look back, hoping that he catches up with me later.
Most people say just use common sense and you'll be fine, but unfortunately that's not always the case. I say, never leave the side of a local who is familiar enough with the area to guide you around.
If by chance you visit uptown new orleans keep an eye open if you ever run upon Claiborne ave. Martin Luther King should be avoided by all tourist as well as Josephine st. There is nothing for tourist to see except trouble. And also if you get a chance to go downtown avoid the 7th Ward area as well as the 5th and 6th ward areas streets like Broad, St Benard, and the Treme area can be a little wild at time. But have fun anyway if you visit.
I'm a foreigner who lives in the French Quarter. I've been here for almost a year and was overwhelmed by the amount of negative criticism about crime in New Orleans I received before I arrived. It's true. There is a considerable amount of crime in New Orleans per capita. It's not an understatement. But like most cities, you need to be careful. There are certain areas that you don't venture into, especially not at night. Ultimately, the Quarter is one of the safest places in the city. The reason being is that there is plenty of foot traffic, a mixture of locals and tourists and there's a high police presence. Tourism to New Orleans is extremely important for the economy so the City wants to ensure that they do as much as possible to protect the area. There is a housing project near the Quarter (Iberville), so the warnings in other posts on this site about not walking around Rampart St are important. But if you stay within the Quarter at night and stick to the popular streets you will have a good time. Make sure that you don't get too drunk as, like anywhere in the world, you are a walking target. Walk safe, be conscious of what's happening around you and you'll be fine. As I said, I've lived here for nearly a year and I haven't seen any crime. I've heard of stuff happening but I've been fortunate to not experience it.
I absolutely love this city and for any traveller visiting this amazing place you will not be disappointed.
As you walk in the French Quarter, it is almost inevitable that you will be approached by a black hustler, who will ask seemingly innocuous questions, all intended to trap you into a "hustle". Among the more common of these hustles is being asked/told, "Yo, mister...for five dollars, I'll tell you where you got your shoes". Of course, you think to yourself, Oh, God, do I have to put up with this nonsense, but in your naive way, you attempt to give the hustler an answer of some kind, if only to get rid of him. WRONG! You just fell into his trap! Whatever is your answer it is gonna be wrong, at least in the con of this hustler. Example: If you respond, "OK, where did I get my shoes", he will respond, "You gots them on your feet"! And now, he wants to be paid! And now, you’ve gotta deal with it.
They do not back off easy, and they can smell fear a mile away. My advice? Avoid contact with strangers. Instant friends in N'awlens is instant trouble. If you are a big guy, do not think that that will protect you. Only a BIG gun, (AND the willingness to use it), is gonna protect you. If you are a female, date a guy who has the sense to carry a BIG gun. Wear clothes that do not telegraph: "Hello. Please victimize me"! If you're gonna "slum" in the Quarter, wear clothes that are usually seen at Hells Angels’ gatherings. Leave your “L.L. Bean” in the North. Katrina has changed some things, but the statistics are starting to inch back up. The cops in this town are among the most corrupt in the nation, and are as useless as....well...you know. Still, if you have "street sense", you can have a wonderful time. If you do not have street sense, stay home. The white trash usually act in less violent/intimidating ways, but they are just as able to pick you clean and leave your crumpled body in a heap. Just because they look/dress like “hippies”, doesn’t mean they’re driven by the power of love.
A good rule of thumb is, the closer you are to the river the safer the neighborhood is. The closer you get to Rampart Street, the seeder the neighborhoods get. The area bounded by Canal, Decatur, Bourbon and St. Ann is generally pretty safe. I've walked these areas at all times of day over the past 12 years and never had a problem. It also helps to have some street smarts and know how not to look like a tourist in case you get caught out in a bad neighborhood. Know where you are going and the street names of the surrounding areas so you don't have to pull your map out every ten minutes. New Orleans neighborhoods can go from very safe to very bad in a couple of blocks, so you need to at least memorize the general layout of the streets and their names, just to be on the safe side.
I joined this site just to set people straight.
A. The Riverwalk, as of 9/05, well before Katrina, is not at all dangerous, even at 3am with a relatively young couple when I needed a walk after a tense night. It's a great walk after a trip to Frenchman and the Hookah Café, Checkpoint Charlie's, or The Whirling Dervish.
B. Having no car, I've walked through lots of the city (once from Uptown campus to the Riverwalk and back.). I also go out to Zotz uptown, the Maple Leaf, Fat Harry's, and the like. A little common sense keeps you out of trouble in Uptown. Freret below this one bar (I can't remeber the name of it, I don't go to the near-Campus bars much. I like Frenchman and Coffeehouses better) isn't real peachy, but keep to yourself, and you should be OK.
The warehouse district is FUN to walk around, and I've never had a problem, going to The Howlin' Wolf, True Brew, and The arty areas out there.
C. The Wards ARE best avoided. People aren't deceiving on that point. Unless you're making a strange mecca to a local funk act's house, there's not a whole lot there for tourists.
D. You can stray a bit off Bourbon, but be smart. Bourbon also peters out for a bit, but it picks back up into Gay Bourbon. On Halloween, walk from the far end of Bourbon to Canal for a much more fun time.
Really, New Orleans is not any less or more safe than any other city. To the person who claimed NO is the most dangerous city in the US, it is Camden, NJ (my original home state, and there's really not a whole lot for tourists in Camden), followed by Detroit, St. Louis, Flint, MI, and Richmond, VA. NO is #8, but that was pre-Katrina, and the numbers, due to a number of reasons, have dropped.
In conclusion, take a look down the street. If it gives you a creepy feeling, don't take it. If it doesn't, check your surroundings.
Short of that?
Stuff happens in any city. Be prepared. Dont get too drunk to call a cab, don't wander inebriated, be a responsible citizen.
First of all, when you read 'don't go north into the magnolia housing project' realize Magnolia Street isn't anywhere near the French Quarter. Magnolia Project is south west over 40 blocks at Louisiana/Magnolia in Uptown where there are no tourists ever.
And definitely don't stay in a hotel EAST of the French Quarter because you will be in the river, a bad neighborhood full of nasty fish.
Several of these posts are inaccurate and by the same author. Across Rampart into the Basin development was surely dangerous, but these posts are full of inaccuracies and show that people are just making them up...some claim to live in the projects and don't even know where they are located.
Bourbon runs SW to NE, but no one, NO ONE in new orleans would use the term 'north of bourbon', they would use riverside and lakeside, uptown and downtown.
And no real local would tell you to visit Metairie Cemetery because it was safer, they'd tell you to visit Metairie Cemeterie because it has beautiful individual family mosoleums with stained glass which you can view and walk into, as opposed to crypts, which are a big block of stone.
i've been to the quarter for 25 years at 4-5 times a week from the time i was at tulane 25 years ago and now I'm older once or twice a week and never a problem other than with a drunk tourist. It's not the locals throwing up, pissing on a pole, falling off banisters, taking off their clothes on hotel balconies and screaming.......we live here, we don't rent hotel balconies, trash our town, nor drink on bourbon street.
Pre-Katrina crime was bad for those who were not careful, but the posts are inaccurate. Now, the crime rate is the lowest since 1963. We now have 462 Restaurants running, about 100 music clubs with live bands, Dday museum, CAC, etc, and near zero crime. Come give us a visit and you will be treated with southern hospitality.
When given directions and a map of the French Quarter, I was directed to stay on or South of Bourbon Street since the "projects" are North and a high crime area. Most of what I wanted to see was toward the Mississippi anyway.
This really is a beautiful park....Statues of African American Icons, beautiful flora; however, not the safest place in New Orleans. The first time I was here (1992) my friend and I were mugged at knifepoint in broad daylight.......with lots of people around. I think the guy got $21 between the two of us. I steered clear of Rampart Street on subsequent trips, but returned this last time to see if it had changed. It is still a beautiful park, but I was too nervous to explore. I don't know if there is still this problem, but be careful while you're here!
New Orleans is a checkerboard of "good" neighbourhoods and "bad" ones. There are the most rundown shacks just blocks away from palatial mansions.
I find it very dangerous to explore New Orleans without a map, as one can never tell where a "good" neighbourhood ends and a "bad" one begins.
If you do happen to get lost in New Orleans, I would recommend asking a police officer (if you can find one) for directions, or maybe a clerk in a shop. I would never admit to a passing stranger on the street that I was lost, for fear of being robbed.
Also, I would be discreet about using a map as well. Don 't give any signs that you are vulnerable to any passersby, just in case.
Typically most visitors don’t have any problems, but there are a couple of areas you may want to avoid at dark. The Riverwalk (next door to Café Dumond at Jackson Square) after dark is filled with homeless and beggars. I would recommend that you especially avoid North Rampart Street after dark, the visit isn’t worth it and it has a notorious history of crime.