Last week I took a look at where people got murdered in Chicago over the last 12 months in an attempt to offer a simple, albeit flawed, way to assess which are Chicago's safest and most dangerous neighborhoods. Although Chicago homicides are perhaps the highest profile sign of a neighborhood's relative safety, a much more common threat is violent crime. People don't get murdered in every Chicago community area but every area has some degree of violent crime and the larger number of these crimes make them more statistically meaningful.
Now, there are a lot of different definitions of violent crime used throughout the US but, given the huge number of crimes in Chicago, I have always restricted this analysis to aggravated assault and battery. When the word "aggravated" is attached to these crimes it raises their level of seriousness because of such factors as the intent, the use of a weapon, the status of the victim, or the injury caused. It's complicated and that's why we have lawyers.
Focusing on aggravated assault and battery specifically leaves out violent crimes such as rape (I think it has an entirely different classification system), robbery, and theft but, hey, including all that stuff gets complicated and really swells the numbers. Also, note that I have left out domestic incidents, which account for around 28% of all cases of aggravated assault and battery. When people are trying to determine if a neighborhood is safe or dangerous they are not thinking about domestic incidents so it doesn't make sense to include them.
Interestingly, the total number of these crimes hasn't been changing that much from one year to the next. For the 12 months ending June 30, 2019 I counted 10,650, which is a 4.1% increase from last year. The graph below summarizes these incidents by Chicago neighborhood (actually community area but people incorrectly use the terms interchangeably so I will too). You need to click on the graph once to enlarge it enough so that you can actually read it.
As I did with the murder data I've calculated the incidents per 100,000 people in order to normalize for the population of these areas - i.e. more people usually means more crime, all else being equal. As you can see and would expect there are some dramatic differences in these numbers from the low end to the high end and the relative rankings of these community areas hasn't changed that much from last year. However, comparing the numbers from the two years here are some of the more dramatic changes. The following community areas saw a significant drop (more than 20%) in the incidence of these crimes from last year:
- Avalon Park
- Calumet Heights
- Jefferson Park
And the following community areas got noticeably worse - i.e. more than a 20% increase:
- Archer Heights
- Fuller Park
- Lake View
- Lincoln Park
- Near North Side
- Near South Side
- Norwood Park
- Portage Park
- South Chicago
- West Elsdon
- West Garfield Park
You'll notice that higher crime rates worked their way into several high income, north side community areas. And, yes, I see that way more community areas got a lot worse than got a lot better. It's just the way the numbers worked out.
As I pointed out last week the notion of a "safe" or "dangerous" neighborhood is highly subjective and nuanced. So, for that reason I merely provide the data and let the reader determine for themselves how they would classify a particular area.
Map Of Aggravated Assaults & Batteries In Chicago
The map I created is probably the most useful because it really takes the data down to the block level so that you can see the differences (and there are significant differences) within community areas. The map is interactive so you can zoom in (and you'll need to really do that to see what's going on within a block), pan, click on each balloon for some details on the incident, expand the map to your full screen, and share it. Unfortunately, the amount of data even overwhelms Google so the responsiveness of this map leaves a lot to be desired. Just give it time.
As I always point out you'll see certain patterns. One of the more obvious ones is that these crimes tend to cluster around busy streets. And there are pockets of relative "safety" scattered about, though one thing that should be clear from this map is that there is really no such thing as a safe area. Also, within Logan Square and West Town the crime tends to be higher on the west end but the city in general also has a concentration of these crimes up and down the east side where you have a higher concentration of people.
Gary Lucido is the President of Lucid Realty, the Chicago area's full service real estate brokerage that offers home buyer rebates and discount commissions. If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market or get an insider's view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry 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.