Walking, New York City
If you are going to walk uptown from the Manhattan end of the Brooklyn Bridge, especially at night, please be absolutely certain that you know your directions. While New York streets and avenues are relatively squarely aligned and sensibly named and numbered, such is not the case in lower Manhattan.
During the centennial celebration for the Brooklyn Bridge, I started at the Brooklyn Art Museum and walked to the Bridge, thinking that it was only two or three blocks. Wrong, I was!! After touring the displays at the base of the bridge on the Brooklyn side and walking across the bridge, I went down to the river's edge for an outstanding seafood dinner and, on a wild impulse, decided to walk uptown toward my hotel until I got tired and/or found a convenient subway stop. Unfortunately, I took a wrong turn and made a very unintended tour of the Bowery at, and after, dusk. I first began to get nervous when I noticed that I was not seeing any more taxies and a lot of the people whom I met, although their numbers were decreasing, were speaking to me. I ended up walking all the way back past Times Square. Several New Yorkers with whom I shared the story of my adventure did not believe me. The desk clerk at my hotel said that if I was telling the truth and was correctly relating my route that I had probably walked about 15 miles and that I should be dead or in a hospital because nobody except the locals dared walk alone in those parts, especially carrying anything valuable such as my Nikon camera. I had no fear until after the trip was over although I did feel a bit weird being almost alone in a city as large as New York.
It probably goes without saying, but do take care crossing the roads! This is a big city and although traffic doesn't move very fast most of the time, it can take you by surprise. This is particularly the case with the fairly rare two-way streets (e.g. the upper reaches of Broadway) - you can get so used to only looking in one direction that the need to look both ways may excape you. I also noticed the differnce in traffic conditions between one street and another in areas such as Greenwich Village. One minute we were strolling along a leafy back street where we could walk in the middle of the road if we so chose, and the next we were on busy Seventh Avenue with cars and taxis hurtling past.
Most junctions have pedestrian lights like this one advising when it's safe to cross, so it's best to cross at these points. One thing that's a little disconcerting for visitors from the UK is that a white "safe to cross" sign doesn't mean that no traffic will be turning the corner. Vehicles are still permitted to turn but must give way to pedestrians, although it seems a bit off-putting at first to see a taxi apparently heading straight for you!
When we first visited New York in 1982 my mother-in-law was convinced that something dreadful would happen to us. Actually she feels like that wherever we go, however safe it might be, but in the case of the New York of the early 80s she maybe had a point, though we didn’t tell her that ;-) Crime levels back then were high and visitors were warned to be vigilant and to avoid certain areas altogether. Nowadays the city has cleaned up its act and a clamp down on crime over recent decades has ensured that it’s now no more dangerous than any other large city and probably safer than many (including London where I live – but don’t tell my mother-in-law that please!)
Nevertheless you should take the usual precautions. Don’t flash expensive jewellery or a wallet packed with dollar bills. Be discreet with camera equipment too – if you feel nervous about the man staring at you from the street corner you may be right, so keep it under wraps and move on. Look out for pickpockets wherever it’s a bit crowded, and in particular on the subway, just as you would in any city. Avoid dark alley ways and deserted streets at night, and take advice on any no-go areas. In short, be sensible – but don’t be paranoid!
If you want to find out more about levels of crime in New York have a look at this helpful map showing crime rates for each police precinct during 2007, and this table showing just how much these have dropped over the last 40 years.
Just like everywhere in the world, don’t flash your jewelry, keep your wallets safe, and use your common sense. I have never experienced anything bad that’s worth mentioning in NYC and just like everywhere else in the world, it’s always a possibility of something happening to you. Be aware of your surrounding, when you look vulnerable that’s when you are bringing in attention
Beware people of NYC
Most of the friendly people you will come across will probably not be natives of NYC. The people we tended to talk to were not New Yorkers. Even a fair few of the service industry staff were not overly friendly, although there were some good people e.g. staff in Irish Bar (Benni's I think) and the people at and around the Native American museum near Wall Street were very friendly, especially one policeman who came up on seeing we were visiting museums and gave us some tips.
If you don't want to stick out as a tourist in the city - don't look up!! I would defy you not to - the skyline is amazing but watch out when crossing the road even if you have a Walk sign - watch out for traffic at all times. Some or rather a lot of drivers jump the lights so your way to the other sidewalk may not be as safe as it seems.
Although I felt very safe in New York City, I don't think it would be safe to wander the streets late at night alone. If you must walk the streets alone at night then make sure you try to stay near large groups of other people.
Ok, so sometimes New Yorkers can get a bit aggressive. Meaning, sometimes, if you're a lovely young lady with a nice pair of stems, creepy, skeevy men will follow you, whistling, staring, whispering aggressive, sexually harassing words to you. This has happened to me and a number of my friends many times. Don't worry, there's a way to get out of it. Like dogs, they can sense when you're nervous. For people new to the city, please keep to the crowds, even if you find it too busy and bustling. You'll find its the safest way to go. Keep with a group or with your partner. You'll less likely be followed if you're with someone else, unless of course you're travelling with another lithe female.
if you think you're being followed, or if you know you're being followed, let him know. Ask the nearest person for help. Don't stay silent about it. Scream, do something to let someone know you're being harassed. If not, and you're too scared, walk into the nearest store and let an employee know who can call the police. If there are no stores around, grab the nearest taxi cab, he can't follow you there. Head to busy intersections and get away. And if you can think of alternatives, please let me know, Goodness knows I could use more tips in this area!
Please be safe, use common sense and remind your teenage daughters that although they may be angsty now, thinking they're mature adults, remind them that they are still young and are still vulnerable. This happens far too much so please be careful! Keep a phone on you and a friend. And do NOT be afraid to ask for help! Especially on the subway, when men will leer at you, lick their lips and grab their packages...ask for help, from anywhere!
In NYC, the pedestrians are as crazy as the drivers. Drivers honk. Pedestrians cross the street whenever they like, especially on red lights.
My advice is DON'T simply follow the crowd and cross when everyone else crosses. If you're not paying attention, you might happen to cross on a red light without having looked if a car was coming. So cross on a red light if you have to but DO look left and right first, DON'T rely on the rest of the crowd to do it for you!
Be VERY careful where you walk in New York. People there drive like crazy. You can easily get bumped by a taxi making a tight turn at an intersection. Always watch your step, cross on green lights, and don't stand too close to the intersection when waiting for green or to cross the street. There is a lot of traffic in New York
I have lived in new york city for 20 years and never had a problem.I have never seen a crime.I love to travel alot and i can tell you that new york city is one of the safest cities in the united states.its a fact look up the crime rate and compare it to other cities such as Miami and atlanta and you will find new york city has less crime than most other cities.come visit new york go to a broadway show take a walk through one of our many beautiful parks and enjoy your stay i promise you will love it and come back again soon.the only places that ive been to that are dangerous was colombia hatie and Miami Florida.those are the places you must be carful in.
I worried about spraining my ankle or being hit by a car much more than running into crime in New York!
I found the streets in atrocious shape, and you really have to watch where you're going. Big potholes and other assorted safety hazards are on the streets, due to construction sites. I saw savvy New Yorkers walking inches from speeding cars on the street , as the street was the only place to walk due to construction. You could injure yourself very easily, especially if you are distracted by the sights, so take the extra time to cross the street and walk in a safe area.
You will also notice many New Yorkers blithely crossing against the pedestrian lights. Don't blindly follow them, as they are used to the traffic, and some of them cut it very close to being hit by cars. Some taxis drive extremely fast! Cross the street only when YOU feel you are safe.
Not a danger (but perhaps because of a perceived danger) there is an incredible amout of security in most big buildings in Manhattan. Every one of the investment banks/asset managers that we met (save one a little north at Park and 53rd) had the following procautions:
(i) everyone who entered had to have picture ID;
(ii) we had to have an appointment and the security staff called to our host to confirm this;
(iii) we all had to get little stickers with our names, destination floor/host, time and date and purpose;
(iv) some buildings also took a webcam picture of us (which was printed right on the access pass) and;
(v) some searched or even X-rayed (!) our briefcases.
It's understandable and the personnel are very polite...just get to meetings 10 minutes early unless you want to keep your hosts waiting as you clear protocol.
Well, i've lived in NYC for about a year, and let me just say, I have honestly never felt as safe is any other city, as I have New York. It lives up to its rep "The city that never sleeps". Always something going on. The NYPD is constantley patrolling the city 24/7. Manhattan for the most part is generally very safe. When your coming back from a nightclub in the early AM hours, you feel very comfortable walking around. The city is very well lit, and there is practically security on every street. I mean, don't venture off into some secluded alley, because that's just stupid. NYC is one of the greatest cities in the world, and you'll fall in love with it, guarenteed. I feel very safe walking around at anytime, along the main streets, probably because the streets are NEVER desserted! Even at 4 Am, you'll see some live jazz band playing in Midtown. I mean 90% of Manhattan is well lit all night, but there is still 10% that isint.. but those places are mostly resedential, and not a place you would find yourself anyway. The streets are also very clean and very well maintained, with lots of lights and security. Unlike many other cities, when you leave the tourist area, you find yourself in some dark avenue feeling uneasy. That is not the case in NYC at all, because the majority of the streets are well lit and safe, in and out of the tourist areas. NYC is the COOLEST city on earth!
New York is quite a safe city for the most part, despite its reputation in movies as being full of crime. Still, there are certain areas that are dodgier than others, and you should be on your guard if you're on your own. Just stick to places where there are lots of people, don't go down any dark alleyways, etc. Standard city precautions apply.