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DC is like any other city...
I have lived in various parts of DC (from NE, to SW, to NW) for several years...and that was a few years ago, before the city was "cleaned up" (aka gentrified). I am a young, educated, white female, in case you were wondering.
Indeed, like any urban area, DC has its seedy parts.
However, it is not AS BAD AS some people make it sound on here.
Of course, if you are a loud, obnoxious, gullible-looking tourist walking through the hood, then really, there is no reason for you to not get jumped. Like with any other city, there is always a possibility you will get mugged or harassed.
DC does have a population of homeless people and crack addicts...there are seedy corner stores, shady looking characters, and obnoxious bully-teenagers. There are parts where you really need to be careful...however, they are not everywhere, and if you are in tourist areas/crowded areas/rich neighborhoods, you should be fine.
Having said this, i encourage you to get away from downtown and explore.
After you finish the monuments and the museums, try taking the train to a different area, like U street on the green line, adams morgan on the red line, or the popular dupont circle area. There are tourists there too...and young professionals, and some families, and local artsy types of characters and students. There are homeless people there too and people of color, but it's OK, you will be just fine!
Of course anything can happen anywhere. I've had friends who were mugged outside of a nice restaurant after work. But at the same time, i know people who have never been assaulted and have lived there for years.
Just be smart, know where you are going, there is no need to go exploring in SE or NE areas...if an area looks sketchy, just turn around and walk back the way you came from, and chances are you will run into a posh, gentrified neigborhood with lights and shops and restaurants.
Oh and Chinatown is really not all that...and it is filled with loud obnoxious teenagers (due to the movie theater and stores there) , so I suggest skipping it.
Bottom line: DC is safer than some of the other cities out there....
- Budget Travel
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DC: Buy a Travel Guide
My Saturday evening, if I am at my home, generally consists of several people with out-of-state plates asking me how to get to the H Street Corridor. They look really surprised when I tell them they may want to reconsider their plans. I also see plenty of people walking around looking a little sketched out in my neighborhood (which, by the way, is the next safest place in DC to the War Room...no joke, the permanent Cap. Police patrol can see the whole street and several Congresspeople live nearby). Tourists: buy a travel guide before you come to DC.
DC offers some great nightlife and cultural activities. Most of the culture can be had on the Mall, with little to no risk of getting lost or ending up in the wrong neighborhood. Most of the nightlife is a little harder to find and may be on the other side of/border a not-so-great neighborhood. Sure, you can stick to downtown and pay way too much for mediocre food and junky American beer at the ever-tasteful Hard Rock Cafe, if that's your speed. But if you actually want to do something fun, then you're going to have to leave Downtown.
Leaving downtown is not a problem, really. Most of the areas you would ever want to go to are accessible by subway, and the transit system is very safe. Even if you have to cross a bad neighborhood to get where you're going, if you do it on Metro, you're fine. Taking a cab is also an option, but DC cabbies are excellent rip-off artists. Give them the slightest hint you don't know the city, and they'll take you on one heck of an expensive ride. Some of the best areas for nightlife are Capitol Hill/Eastern Market, certain Adam's Morgan establishments, DuPont Circle, and Georgetown. Georgetown is not directly accessible by subway, but it is by bus, and walking from the nearest subway stop is safe.
Buy a travel guide and also check out the link to DC's Metro system homepage below. The trip planner actually includes walking directions from your starting point and to your destination from the nearest stops (you have to click to get this, either on "more information" or "walk," I can't remember but it's easy to tell as where you click is hyperlinked). Also, remember that DC is divided into quadrants, and you must know whether your destination is in NE, NW, SE, or SW in order to get there. Don't guess!!!
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Never enter deserted streets at any time
Be very very careful and alert when walking around DC. There are plenty of drugaddicts prowling around suspiciously even in broad daylight. Me and my kids were taking a stroll in a street somewhere near Chinatown. It was 10.30 am in the morning but unfortunately there was nobody in that particular street at that time. Suddenly this man appeared from behind the cars and started calling out to us. We increased our pace and started walking faster but this guy started running after us and abusing us. We were really frightened and ran as fast as we could till we reached the end of the street where it was pretty crowded. We were lucky that we had a good lead and were almost close to the end of the street which had Hotel Renaisance at the corner. But the experience sure had us very scared because he looked very dangerous. Once you are in a crowded place they cant do anything. But they can be very dangerous if they catch you alone. Also one has to be very careful about venturing out after 8 pm because most of the streets get very deserted then and there are very few pedestrians on the road except for these antisocial characters. They keep eyeing tourists suspiciously all the time. We were lucky that our hotel (Harrington) was centrally located and had a constant stream of people coming to the restaurant till late at night.
- Family Travel
The DC stat is 1991 - 2005 is 35.4/2007 is 30.8
There has been an average of 160,000 troops in the Iraq theatre of operations in the last 22 months, with a total of 2,112 deaths.
This gives a death rate ratio of 60 deaths per 100,000 soldiers.
The firearm death rate in Washington D.C. for the same period was 80.6 per 100,000.
It therefore follows that you are approximately 25% more likely to be shot and killed in the U.S. Capitol than in Iraq, even though Washington D.C. has the strictest gun control laws in the nation .
My Trip to Washington DC...NE
I am a social work student from Newport News, VA and went to a Policy confrence in Washington. Me and BF went togeather. The conference was at the Mayflower on Conneticut Ave. I could not afford this so I chose the Super 8 on New York Ave. (haha) Well, I am from the booneys where all you see is corn fields and walmarts.
Do not drive to Washington DC unless you are staying downtown near everything important. Driving is horrible. Remeber that 17th street is Conneticut Ave. It took me an hour to go 2.6 miles.
The area where my hotel was located was not very nice but it was cheap. The homeless were everwhere. I was uncomfortable at first but I got used to the area. It is not wise to travel NE on New York AVe. When I got lost I found that L Street was a safe bet and got me out of the mess I was in.
Parking is very expensive. The national Mall area is very congested with tourists and traffic so beware.
The social worker in me kicked in as soon as I made my way to any stores. I tryed to have patience with the mess I got myself in.
They do not sell beer at any of the convient stores, the liquor store only sells beer.
I learned from this trip that I am a country girl and I want it to stay that way!
- Budget Travel
- Study Abroad
Street Gun Fight
It was 5:45 p.m., sunny and ninety-six degrees, yesterday, and I was walking from my office tower to the Metro station at Mt. Vernon Square/Convention Center, on the corner of 7th and M Streets.
I was walking on the sidewalk and fifty feet from the escalator entrance to the subway station, when I heard some loud noise. The noise was not a truck or construction (of which there are a lot in the area.) I looked up and saw a young black man wearing thug clothes and standing in the middle of M Street about five feet west of M Street's intersection with 7th Street, and raise his handgun and fire several more shots down M Street, in the direction away from the subway station, and then he ran in the direction of where he was shooting.
I didn't grab my phone quickly enough to get a photo.
I've been working in Washington, D.C. for several years, and this gun battle was the first gun battle that I'd ever seen in my life.
Washington, D.C., has a long and varied history. VTer's may want to stay aware of current criminal activity while walking the public sidewalks.
- Hiking and Walking
Well, DC is hood, no arguement there. But is it also a great place to visit with a lot of things to do. I mean, don't venture into the Southeast section, among others. But if you're on the main drag, around the night clubs, restauraunts, entertainment, you'll be fine. The capitol district is also very great for visiting. Just use your head, don't think you can venture into inner city DC and not get in trouble. But don't let that stop you.. DC is home to some of the best monuments and entertainment out there.
- Family Travel
A little common sense
Although crime has gone down in the District, there are some parts of the city through which you wouldn't feel safe even in a Sherman tank. If you stick to the touristy areas, you should be fine, though. In all places, mind your belongings carefully. Wear a neck wallet to keep your money and make it hard for pickpockets. If you carry a backpack like I did last time I was in town, keep it with you at all times. Mind your surroundings, look back and make sure nobody is trying to steal it. When you are sitting at a table at a restaurant or standing at a phone booth, straddle the bag firmly between your feet and legs so you can possibly retrieve it if somebody tries to steal it.
Be aware of where you are
DC used to be known as the muder capital of the Nation. I forget what city earned that distinction this year, it always changes. But anyway, just be careful. There are always specials on TV about DC crime and violence, but if you stick to the main attraction areas, you will be okay. Just be smart about it. I would avoid SE DC at night as a general rule, guidebooks will tell you not to take the Metro to Anacostia at night.
Outskirts of washington D.C.
As we were driving to our hotel, while we were just outside the heart of the city, it looked like there were a lot of groups hanging out on the corners, and there were always police cars everywhere. I'm just saying if your walking around there, be with someone, and I wouldn't get a hotel outside of the main part of the Washington D.C.
As in, use common sense. Many people still think of Washington, DC as a crime-ridden murder capital. As a tourist you will find the popular attractions to be safe and free of violent crime. There are some dodgy areas, particularly in the SE and NE quadrants of the city. Be aware of your surroundings--the less-safe areas tend to look the part and you should be able to sense when you are veering out of "safe" territory. Do note that neighborhoods can change very quickly, particularly around the Capitol. Additionally, much of the sensationalist stories of violence you see on the news involve drug deals and other sordid behavior, not visitors.
Washington is a relatively safe city for people. There's always a heavy police presence around the city center and the city's government landmarks. Sadly, the nation's capital has a horrific crime rate and one of the nation's highest per population (amazing for a city of some 600,000; much smaller than America's other larger cities). However, crime rarely targets tourists, and remains largely outside in the city's eastern fringes. The eastern areas of Washington are rough and bleak, and should be avoided at night. Washington's present mayor Anthony W. Williams is trying hard to curb this, and has met with some success.
Also be aware of pick pocketers--common in every city in the world--who might try and prey on tourists on the Metro or around busy streets.
If you have any unlikely problems, contact the United States Park Police: the law-enforcement branch of the National Park Service, as well as one of the oldest contemporary police forces in the world (founded in 1791). The US Park Police operates usually around the city's many parks and government buildings, and are very helpful whether it be for a lost purse or for directions.
For other matters that are outside the USPP's jursidiction, contact the Metropolitan Police Department if you have any other needs.
If you have any other emergencies, please contact 911.
Sometimes you should take a cab.
There are a few bad area's in Washington DC that you should really not walk around at night when you are not sure where you are going. Generally the city is very safe and you should not have to worry. You can take the metro late at night (it runs till 2:00am I think) and be perfectly safe (although single women should always be careful and not too drunk).
So if you are going to Nation (South East), or Dream (RT-50 East), 9:30 club (North East), RFK Stadium (South East), or a number of other clubs that are off the beaten track, I would recomend making sure you know how to get there by Metro / car or maybe you should take a cab.
I always drive to these places and find parking nearby and I have never had a problem (I am also a 6'2" 220 lb guy and I have felt a bit uncomfortable / worried when I was with a girlfriend in some bad areas), some (9:30 Club & RFK Stadium) have metro's close by or shuttle service (Dream).
All in all I would just recomend that you know where you are going and get good directions or call a cab. It costs less than $15 to go just about anywhere in DC (they price by the zone so sometimes a 5 minute ride can cost $9).
I don't want to overly worry people. DC is very safe and there are many transitional areas that have great places to go out if you are just a little carefull.
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Look, no B.S., DC is a city. ...
Look, no B.S., DC is a city. And American cities tend to have crime. Just be logical. The worst thing you can do around here is show fear. Act like you belong and you know where you're going. Keep money secure and valuables always within your view. Lots of vagrants with sad stories, but be careful and use your discretion when deciding whether or not to help them out monetarily. Walking the streets, even at night, is fairly safe in most neighborhoods. Avoid the Southeast if at all humanly possible. Northwest (where I live ;) ) is the best neighborhood without a doubt. Don't stray and listen to your instincts!
When visiting DC, bring a map....
When visiting DC, bring a map. Downtown is small, and it's easy to get lost and venture into a bad neighborhood. The rule of thumb is to find the Washington monument or the White house, everything else is located around these buildings.Picture © Keith Stanley
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Washington D.C. Travel Guide
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