First off, Newark is a Great city and is up and coming.....Ironbound which is My old Neighborhood has great restaurants and a Awesome Nightlife! As for The so called Bad Neighborhoods you won't have any trouble there as long as you mind your own BI. Then again why would you go there unless you live there or your lost!! But don't be fooled By Ironbound's Flashy nightlife and Glitzy Ambiance, Cause Newark is Newark No matter what side your on!!! Welcome 2 the Brickcity!!!
Although Newark has done a very good job of revitalizing its downtown and the adjacent Ironbound neighborhood, many other neighborhoods in the city are still dangerous, particularly at night. Downtown and the Ironbound section are both generally safe, particularly during the day.
Interesting to see other peoples take on Newark. Seeing as how I have worked here for the last 6 years and my office is located directly across the street from Penn Station Newark (yes, there is also a Penn Station, NY), I figure my comments may help. First, as the general census seems to suggest, you will have no problems in Penn Station due to the constant presence of the NJ Transit Police force, you may occasionally get asked for some change by the panhandlers, but just mumble something in your own version of pig Latin or anything other than Spanish, and you will leave them standing there completely stumped. You will also have no problems in the general vicinity of Penn Station to include the PAC (Performing Arts Center). The rest of Newark you probably would not be to impressed with anyway although the city is constantly evolving and improving. You should use your common sense and don't go wandering around after dark, and it is always wise to use your big city street smarts here. One thing you should do if you are in Penn Station, is walk out the main back entrance of Penn Station, and take a walk on "Ferry Street". It is composed of entirely Portuguese and Brazilian restaurants and businesses, and is a gem, you are missing out if you don't check it out, here you are safe at almost any hour and the restaurants and pubs offer some incredible food and atmosphere.
I'm not sure how dangerous it is, but I've seen the weirdest people on earth at the Newark train station (Penn Station / Newark). I was wandering there for an hour and I swear, I've never seen so many hunched-over hobbling people in my life. There was also a liquor store with a line of people at 11am, how decadent! Whenever you get chased by strange men in trenchcoats, you can escape into the bookstore, which has a wide and varied range of crime and erotica literature. Of special note was the connect the dot pornography.
We've all heard the jokes about Newark. My one warning to travelers is to go where it seems smart to go. Downtown is relatively safe and the Ironbound is about as safe as it gets, but be careful of going to far west or south. Crowds are signs of safety, a deserted alleyway is not. Go where you see lights. At night, stay in downtown, the Ironbound or the North Ward (north of rt. 280).
BE CAREFUL NOT TO WANDER THE STREETS OF NEWARK ALONE (OR EVEN IN A SMALL GROUP) UNLESS YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE TERRITORY AND CAN SAFELY PASS THROUGH THE CITY'S DISMAL STREETS. I WOULD LIKE TO APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE IF THIS OFFENDS ANYONE, THIS IS SIMPLY MY PERSONAL MEMORY OF THE CITY. (WHICH COULD BE PURSUADED BY BAD EXPERIENCES FROM MY CHILDHOOD.) SO DON'T TAKE IT PERSONAL. BUT IF YOU DO, THEN CLLLLLEEEAAAANNNN IT UP FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE.