Safe and Dangerous Places in Seattle
In October 2009, Forbes named Seattle, Wash., the fourth-safest city in the United States, based on workplace fatalities, traffic-related deaths and natural disaster risk -- but what about violent crimes?
As a 11-year resident, I can honestly say that I believe Seattle is a very safe city. Like any other major city with its share of dangerous places, Seattle struggles with the challenges of violent crime. Not long ago, I went on a ride-along with the Seattle Police Department and witnessed the city's less-than-glamorous side. I visited areas of Seattle that I'd be unlikely to visit if I was not in a police cruiser.
The good news is that through June 2010, violent crimes in Seattle have decreased 13% compared to the same period one year ago. There have been decreases in homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault citywide. The bad news is that property crimes have increased significantly, with an increase in vehicle theft up 42% over last year. Listed below are some safe places and some areas to avoid in Seattle.
Safe Places in Seattle
There are plenty of safe areas in Seattle where you don't need to look over your shoulder constantly or worry about getting mugged. Seattle has its share of safe neighborhoods where children can confidently walk to school.
The area between Sandpoint Way Northeast and I-5, which includes View Ridge and parts of Ravenna, is definitely a family-friendly area. It feels safe to walk the streets by day and night in this area, and violent crime is rare here.
The Greenlake neighborhood is a relatively safe bet for walking your dog at night. There have been a few incidences of crime at the lake itself recently; however, the neighborhood overall remains a safe one.
The areas surrounding Carkeek Park that borders Puget Sound remains a safe haven from violent crimes. From Holman Road, NW, towards the beaches is a place where you can feel safe walking home even if you've locked your keys in the car.
The area along East Madison Street and the Washington Park Arboretum has safety on its side according to Seattle's violent-crime statistics. From 23rd Avenue East all the way to the shore of Lake Washington, this neighborhood has few incidences of violent crimes.
The Magnolia neighborhood surrounding Seattle's Discovery Park is not only beautiful, it's safe, too. Aside from the Cougar that was trapped and relocated last year in the park itself, this neighborhood is a safe place to roam the streets and raise a family.
Areas to Avoid in Seattle
If you're looking for scary, dangerous areas to avoid in Seattle, a good place to start your search is with the City of Seattle's violent-crime statistics, which are listed on the city's official Website. A recent poll shows that many Seattleites don't feel safe downtown and the city's crime statistics validate their concerns.
To avoid being a victim of violent crime in Seattle, you will be well served to avoid the following five areas:
The area surrounding Pike and Pine streets ranks high for violent crime after dark and is not the kind of area where you want to be caught cutting through an alley in the middle of the night. Crime statistics aside, your common sense should tell you that this is not an area where you want to be wandering around alone on foot late at night.
The area from South Dearborn Street to Yesler Way is not a good place to get a flat while traveling alone at night. Located near the I-5 and I-90 interchange, this area is also home to "The Jungle," where large numbers of homeless people camp, and there were two homicides in 2009. While I was on my police ride-along, we patrolled this area on foot. I can tell you that it's dirty, disgusting, and one of the more dangerous places in Seattle.
M L King Jr. Way South to the South Boeing Access Road is another area where you don't want to get lost on foot or, for that matter, in your car. According to Seattle's violent crime statistics, this area is listed as having 234-739 violent crimes per square mile.
The area to the east of I-5 heading east on East Yesler Way is probably remembered best for the homicide of Seattle Police Officer Timothy Brenton in 2009. This corridor between Lake Washington and Puget Sound has a high incidence of violent crimes year after year including homicides, robberies, and assaults.
Another area to avoid in Seattle is the one between Blanchard and Bell in Belltown. This area, late at night, is like something straight out of Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' video. The area is known for drugs, and if you are interested in experiencing either robbery or an assault, this is your place. While the Seattle Police Department has increased the number of foot patrols in this area, it still needs major improvement.
While all cities have to struggle with the challenges of violent crime and scary places, Seattle is a relatively safe city overall. Hopefully, the second half of 2010 will continue to see a downward trend in violent crimes in Seattle. However, as the 2010 statistics demonstrate, don't leave your keys in your car anywhere in Seattle.
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