Safe and Dangerous Places in Pittsburgh

Areas to Avoid Pittsburgh


By most standards for a safe city in America, Pittsburgh, Pa., generally gets high marks. And it's getting safer. The city of about 330,000 people recorded just 39 murders in 2009, down from 72 the year before. Even some of the neighborhoods with the highest crime rates have a lot to offer in terms of cultural activities, so they're not necessarily areas to avoid in Pittsburgh. But if you're visiting the area and you want to stay safe, here is a brief run-down of the safe and dangerous places in Pittsburgh.

Areas to avoid in Pittsburgh:

1. North Side

The North Side is home to PNC Park and Heinz Field, the stadiums of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers, respectively. It's also where you'll find the East Ohio Street business district and the Mexican War Streets, a charming neighborhood with large, Victorian-era houses and tree-lined streets.

Venture outside these busy areas, however, and you are in one of the more dangerous places in Pittsburgh. The Central North Side was the scene of two murders in 2009 and several more in 2008, while the Allegheny Center area reported three rapes and 70 incidents of theft in 2009.

2. Lincoln-Lemington-Belmar

Often referred to simply as Lincoln-Lemington, this area of the city is in the northeast corner of Pittsburgh along the Allegheny River. The neighborhood reported 125 cases of theft in 2009, 35 aggravated assaults, and one murder. You're not likely to visit Lincoln-Lemington on a sightseeing trip since it is primarily residential, so it is one of the easy areas to avoid on your Pittsburgh vacation.

3. The Hill District

The Consol Energy Center, home of the NFL Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team, sits at the foot of the Hill District. Attending a Pens' game is perfectly safe, but if you wander further up the hill you'll be in an area that presents dangers to Pittsburgh tourists, particularly at night.

In 2009, the Middle, Upper and Lower Hill areas reported four homicides, four rapes, and nearly 200 incidents of theft. Pittsburgh residents hoped that the Penguins and the Consol Energy Center would spur development in the Hill neighborhoods and help revitalize the area, but this hasn't happened yet.

4. Downtown after dark

Aside from student housing for Point Park University and the Art Institute, Pittsburgh's downtown has few residential sections. As a result, most businesses close early on weeknights. With the exception of the theater district, there is little reason to hang out downtown after dark. If you need to be downtown after the end of business, it's best to make sure you know exactly where you're going and to park in a well-lit safe area as close as possible to your destination.

Only one homicide was reported in the central downtown business district in 2009, but a whopping 792 incidents of theft, 111 robberies, and 228 assaults occurred there, making it one of the more dangerous places in Pittsburgh for out-of-towners at night.

5. Homewood

According to statistics from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Homewood was the scene of two murders, ten rapes, and more than 200 cases of simple assault in 2009. The violent crime rate in this area makes it a neighborhood that most residents try to steer clear of. Its lack of entertainment attractions and potential dangers make it one of the areas to avoid in Pittsburgh.

Safe areas in Pittsburgh:

1. Squirrel Hill

Although considered a large neighborhood, the residential community of Squirrel Hill reported few violent crimes in 2009. This pedestrian-friendly, generally safe area is home to numerous restaurants, delis, bakeries, taverns and specialty stores. The population includes families and students at the multiple universities located in nearby Oakland. If you're looking for a place that is safe to visit in Pittsburgh, as well as thoroughly pleasant, check this one out.

2. Shadyside

Shadyside is an upscale residential and chic shopping area with trendy boutiques and interesting restaurants. Given the type of people who frequent this clean, generally safe area of Pittsburgh, it is quite surprising that there were a fairly high number of thefts in Shadyside in 2009. But with only one rape and no murders reported, this is still agreed to be one of most safe areas of Pittsburgh. Just like the blend of affluent professionals, working-class residents and students, visitors flock to this destination with few worries.

3. Highland Park

The Highland Park neighborhood in Pittsburgh's East End registered a low number of assaults and no murders in 2009. The area is home to a municipal park of the same name, featuring a swimming pool, tennis and volleyball courts and several hiking trails. Highland Park is also home to two major attractions for visitors and locals, the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. As our third safest area in Pittsburgh, there's no reason not to enjoy a leisurely visit to the world-class zoo and aquarium.

4. Polish Hill

One of Pittsburgh's great ethnic neighborhoods, Polish Hill is a residential area with a handful of taverns, churches and schools. Considered Pittsburgh's "most vertical neighborhood" because of its location between the Strip District and the Hill District, the community reported no murders or rapes in 2009 and only a small number of robberies and assaults.

Pittsburgh residents know this place is safe; visitors might wish to visit the neighborhood to take advantage of some of the best views of the city from the tree-lined streets.

5. Regent Square

This East End neighborhood includes a portion of Frick Park, which is a popular recreational area. According to Pittsburgh police statistics, the small community of Regent Square earned an impressive crime-free record in 2009. Regent Square had no reported incidents for the entire year in the categories of homicide, rape, aggravated assault, vehicle theft, arson, stolen property, weapons violations, and disorderly conduct.

While most visitors to Pittsburgh might not have a reason to visit this neighborhood of tree-lined, quiet residential streets, they can feel secure if they're headed to the Edgewood Towne Center Mall.

Just like every safe city in America, Pittsburgh has a mix of safe and dangerous places. No matter what place you visit, staying safe in Pittsburgh depends as much on you as on the surrounding community. Use your common sense and keep your eyes open as you venture into unknown areas. It may be a good idea to carry a list of areas to avoid in Pittsburgh, along with a list of safe places to visit in the city.

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