Last week I attempted to provide some updated data that people could use to evaluate which are Chicago's safest and most dangerous neighborhoods. That first pass was based upon murders, which is what people really obsess about since getting murdered is usually pretty severe and irreversible. The only thing is that you are far more likely to be the victim of some other crime, that could land you in the hospital, than being murdered. After all, there were "only" 595 murders in Chicago during the 12 months just ended in June.
On the other hand, during that same period there were 10,232 instances of non-domestic aggravated assault and battery, which is also a pretty scary threat since it could involve an injury, use of a weapon, intent to harm, etc... So, when people think of a dangerous neighborhood this sort of crime is also at the top of their mind and it's probably a more useful indicator of neighborhood safety. In addition, because the number is so large it provides a really good sample across neighborhoods - i.e. we don't have neighborhoods that show up with 0 incidents like we did with the murder data.
Note that the total number of these crimes for the 12 month period was exceptionally close to the number last year - 10,135. So, although the number of murders declined substantially the number of aggravated assault and battery cases was essentially unchanged. Also note that I excluded cases involving domestic violence which I don't think people think about in terms of neighborhood safety.
As I always point out when I provide this data there are plenty of other crimes that people might associate with a dangerous neighborhood such as drug dealing, prostitution, non-aggravated assault and battery, and robbery but looking at all that data would just be overwhelming. Not to mention that I bet it would be strongly correlated with this data.
So, as I did last week, I looked at the data by community area, normalizing it in terms of incidents per 100,000 people and produced the graph below. It's teeny tiny but if you click on it it will expand to a more readable size that you can scroll. The community areas with the lowest rates of aggravated assault and battery tended to be in the northwest, southwest, and northern part of the city. Bridgeport, Logan Square, and the Near South Side have somewhat higher rates. The Near North Side and West Town (that's where I live) are unfortunately pretty high on the list - and higher than Uptown, which often gets a bad rap. And the Near West Side and the Loop are really high. As I pointed out a long time ago, areas like the Near North Side, the Near West Side and the Loop have significant influxes of people each day, which increases the number of potential victims and perpetrators but is not reflected in the population numbers. So their incident rates are rather overstated.
A few other observations:
- Uptown actually improved from last year
- Humboldt Park appears to have gotten much worse this year but then again I'm using much lower population numbers for that area this year and that could be the cause.
- The worst areas from last year are pretty much the same this year
- Lincoln Square appears to have gotten much worse this year
Map Of Aggravated Assaults & Batteries In Chicago
As I did with the murder data, I plotted the aggravated assault and battery incidents on a map to provide a more in depth look at neighborhood level conditions. The map is interactive so you can pan and zoom, open a full page version of the map, share it, and click on each of the balloons to get more information on the incident. Looking at the data this way you can notice more detailed patterns:
- As I have pointed out in the past notice how many incidents occur along busy streets and near the lake - often in broad daylight. You thought there was safety in numbers? You thought wrong.
- You can clearly see the east/ west divide within many community areas. For instance, within West Town Wicker Park, Ukrainian Village, and East Village are not that bad except for the main streets - until you get to Western. Then the frequency of incidents ratchets up.
- It's pretty obvious from the map that the west side and south side have tremendous problems - but you already knew that.
Gary Lucido is the President of Lucid Realty, the Chicago area's full service discount real estate brokerage. If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market, get an insider's view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry, or you just think he's the next Kurt Vonnegut you can Subscribe to Getting Real by Email using the form below. Please be sure to verify your email address when you receive the verification notice.