There is always a bad spot in every city.
The one that is most common is East St.Louis. That part of town is run down and it can be unsafe in most spots. The only thing over there is a casino(which isn't very good) and strip clubs. Just like any other town, you can tell if you've drivin into a bad part of town. Just be aware of your surroundings, remember how you got there in the first place, stay calm, don't roll your window down or get out of your car if you don't feel safe. One more area to be aware of is the inner city. You'll be able to tell if your in it, just by the change in buildings and just an overall sense of change. I know all of this from experience, from when I first moved here from Kansas and I got lost.
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Avoid Car Break Ins!
This tip applies to any urban area, but it is something I've seen many people forget. When you park your car, don't leave anything of value exposed inside! Working in the much visited area of Forest Park, I've seen many people forget this, with bad results. Windows smashed for a walkie talkie or a tote bag! ! The thief may not steal your car, but having a window smashed & items stolen, is very distressing, too. It can totally ruin your day! And even your entire trip....
So either take your valuables with you or put them in your trunk BEFORE you park your car. Put them in your car's trunk ( boot, for you English blokes!) a good distance from the location you leave your car, because the thief may be watching the parking lot. this happened to my daughter at the Creepy Crawl downtown. ( and I thought she was so street-smart!!) Sometimes the trunks get broken into also, especially during Christmas shopping time, so this isn't a fool-proof idea.
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Traffic & Areas To Be Carful In
Okay, so we do have some major traffic issues. Your main highways to get around on are Hwy 270, 40, 44 & 70. If there is a game downtown or it is rush hour and you have to head that way, make sure you give yourself plenty of time. Hwy 40 & 44 if you are coming from the west can get pretty slow headed into to the city. Rush hours is usually in the morning from about 6:30 - 8:30 and in the afternoon form about 4:30 - 6:30. They should call it "Rush Hours".
The next tip I have is, when you are downtown, around "The Hill", South City and North County, it is easy to get turned around. You may be in a very nice area in one minute and the wrong turn can get you into trouble. Again, ask for directions, use your map. St. Louis is a great city, but like most it has it's good areas and it's bad areas. Stay on the main streets and you should me just fine.
I added a link for you that might help you.
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Run down areas Due to Ethnic Problems
Around the downtown area, renovation has been attempted more times than you can imagine, but it has not yet succeeded, and some revived areas are on the decline again-like Union Station after only 15 years appears it could close anytime, or St. Louis Center Mall on 6th St, or Laclede's Landing-to name a few.
It is a downright shame this has happened and millions of dollars invested to try and turn around the deterioration of the city center. Union Station ended up over $250 million cost, St. Louis Center Mall now being torn down only lasted 15 years and died shortly after opening cost $250 million, and Lacledes Landing still barley hanging on cost about !150 million to revamp that devastated area. Now it could take that amount again to fix it up, or try to stop the erosion of tenants.
There have been robberies, attacks and killings that does scare the suburbanites to come downtown, and not doubt not worth the risk.
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Use your common sense.
I love all of these dangers and warnings that are posted here. It seems that no part of the city is safe, you should run screaming every time you see a black man within a mile of you, and don't leave the hotel if you want to stay safe. Better yet, why don't I just look at pictures of St. Louis online while sitting at home?! Get real! St. Louis, like every city, has its share of crime. I ran around St. Louis for a week to see the sights and at no time did I feel unsafe. I was in the downtown area after dark and there were plenty of people there and lots of open restaurants. Sure I wouldn't leave valuables visible in the car and would you common sense, but don't let all these warnings stop you from enjoying a great city. A lot of these reviews do sound racist and perhaps some people are pushing their own agenda, but ignore the extreme views and focus on reality. Stay safe, see all you have time to see, try the ethnic restaurants which make St. Louis such a gastronomical joy, and have fun.
Warning of crime in East St. Louis
Crime can occur anywhere in any major city.
As we went across the bridge over from St. Louis in Missouri State to East St. Louis in Illinois State for the entertainment outlets there, we were warned by the taxi driver of higher crime in St. Louis.
Not sure if this is statistically proven but better heed the advice of the locals especially the cab drivers.
Do not go over the river unless you know where
East St. Louis can be a dangerous place to end up if you are driving around to see the area. It is like a no mans land over there, and nothing so far has been able to turn it around to make it better. It has the biggest death rate in the US per capita. Then there is Suaget with its good old boys trying to make a living on strip clubs and various people sports. Dancing girls, and other risky ventures are available for those in the mind to find it.
Immediate across the river now (Aug 2010)is a casino and green area that may have cleaned up some of the riff.
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Grain of Salt
To say 'The Hill" and "St. Louis Hills" are the only safe neighborhoods in the City of St. Louis is a huge stretch.
I wouldn't venture north of Delmar to be sure, but most of the South Side is safe and full of great things to see.
Have dinner at one of the ethnic restaurants on South Grand, visit Tower Grove Park and the Botanical Gardens. Have lunch in Dogtown south of Forest Park.
The neighborhoods around Tower Grove Park are currently experiencing lots of rehab activity and revitalization, I should know, I've been looking for houses in the area and property values have gone up 50%, a sign of it's relative safety.
Downtown has a crime rate on par with the Safe western suburbs.
I'm not saying St. Louis doesn't have crime, but to say only 2 neighborhoods in an entire city are safe is untrue and you'll miss many great neighborhoods if you don't venture out of downtown and the Arch grounds.
Arch elevators are old but sturdy
If you are claustrophobic, or have arcophobia, you may want to stay on ground level. The elevator ride up is an "adventure" with 5 people to a cramped compartment with narrow seats. I take about 5-7 minutes to get to the top, and somewhat dark going up, and you see the bare walls and supports dragging the cars up the chain pulley. The top of the arch sways only 5-7 inches-they say-but I think I felt it sway about 2 feet more than once. Height at the viewing area is under 7 feet and width about 10 feet with the corridor being 69 feet. With many people up there, it gets crowded and hard to walk and see overview below
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Laclede's Landing Streets Suck
The brick streets were all redone in the early 1980's. Now they are like a roller coaster ride with the severe ruts and depressions that a vehicle needs to traverse in driving down there. No money is available to fix the streets; so it gets worse.
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Crime is a very real problem in the St. Louis area. But, don't let that scare you off, as there are many more GREAT places than there are bad places. Like many have been saying, try to avoid East St. Louis, unless you are just driving through on an interstate or something. And, the cities directly surrounding East St. Louis can be sketchy too....Madison, Venice, Washington Park, Brooklyn, Centreville. There are also some parts of Alton, Belleville, and Granite City that aren't the greatest.
Downtown St. Louis is beautiful, with little crime. But, don't wander too far out of downtown, and I wouldn't stay downtown after work hours, as it can feel very deserted and unwelcoming. (Unless there is a sports game...then it is extremely busy!)
St. Louis has tons of Suburbs, most of which are really nice. If you're looking for a nice hotel, try the suburbs in Illinois or farther out of downtown. The downtown hotels are nice, but expensive. And if you stay in a cheap hotel in the city of St. Louis, it's probably not in a very nice area.
Just to clarify, NOT ALL of the Illinois side of St. Louis is bad. Yes, East St. Louis and the surrounding towns can be pretty bad, but there are tons of other Illinois suburbs that are very nice. There are nice hotels in Fairview Heights, Caseyville, Collinsville, Shiloh, and O'Fallon. You'd be perfectly safe there. Some of the Illinois suburbs have upscale neighborhoods like Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Bethalto, Godfrey, Waterloo, and Columbia. So the point of all this is to say that the Metro East (The Illinois Suburbs), for the most part, is very nice. East St. Louis is just a small part of the Metro East, so don't worry about it! (Can you tell I'm from Illinois??)
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Greyhound station area
Greyhound is on 13th street near downtown.
This area would make the south bronx cry, its a very, very run-down area and very dangerous. Never, and the greyound drivers will tell you this, venture outside the greyhound station to walk downtown even during the day and you will run into problems.
Saint Louis City looks terrible, vacant buildings visible from all angles on the highway. downtown is boarded up in the most places
St. Louis is a big city, with normal American city problems. St. Louis has many bright and wonderful areas, as well as a few not so appealing areas also.
In response to the Greyhound Station comment, were you drunk or were you last in St. Louis during the 1960s?
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One of the most dangerous cities in the USA
The City of St. Louis (as distinct from the legally seperate, suburban, County of St. Louis, is one of the most dangerous places in the USA).
It is estimated that 50% of the entire adult male African American population are convicted felons or currently awaiting trial for a felony.
No place north of Delmar boulevard is safe at any time but after dark it is simply suicidal to venture there. The area to the immediate south and east of the Barnes Hospital Medical complex is also unsafe and a center for drug dealers.
I lived and worked in St. Louis for over 20 years, was an elected official, and a criminal defense attorney. On the occassion when I had to venture into the North city after dark I went with armed body guards provided by my gangster clients at their suggestion (they didn't want their lawyer to get killed).
I lived in the wealthiest part of the city. At least a dozen murders occurred withing six blocks of my home. One happened in the alley behind my house. The alderman's husband was murdered during a carjacking.
Stay only in well lit, popular areas, travel in groups and do not go wandering around at night in any place where you notice that the population is primarily African American.
The only areas which can be said to be generally safe are the Italian neighborhood know as "The Hill" and St. Louis Hills in the southwest corner of the city.
Soulard, immediately south of downtown, and the Central West End are okay as long as you stay in the immedaite vicinity of the entertainment areas.
Just to give you the numbers, here are the officlal reported crime statistics for the year 2004:
The population of St. Louis is roughly 350,000. Overall there were more than 65,000 felonies reported in 2004.
Do the math yourself.
St. Louis Drivers
Anyone who has been on a St. Louis highway will tell you that the drivers here are crazy. They often switch lanes without looking, ride your bumper, and switch 2-3 lanes at a time. Every day I would go to/from work, there would be at least one accident on Hwy 270. I think that some of the problems may be that there are so many exit ramps and everyone commutes here. Now not everyone in St. Louis is a horrible driver, only about 10% of them. Pretty much like any other city. Just drive defensively and try to avoid the crazies.
Take the Metrolink if possible.