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Is Bushwick as Dangerous as People Think? — Community on Bushwick Daily

Is Bushwick as Dangerous as People Think?

For some, Bushwick’s reputation is one of crime and violence. But do the stats support that perception?

Andrew Tobia

Contributing Editor

People looking to move to Bushwick often find the neighborhood's online reputation is a bit of a mixed bag. Is it unsafe? Is there a lot of drug dealing and crime? If danger measures hipness, is Bushwick still cool?

The hard truth is that the data simply does not back up the assertion. In fact, the misconception falls apart quickly under even the smallest amount of scrutiny.

According to crime data provided by both NYC.gov’s Crime Map and the New York Police Department—covering “major” crimes, including murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, and burglary— Bushwick experiences 1.15 crimes per 1,000 residents annually. 

Looking at a recent CompStat report for the 83rd Precinct, which covers Bushwick, the numbers become clear.

This year in major crime (photo courtesy of NYPD)

Compared to 2016, the numbers of major crimes were down across the board with the exception of burglaries, which increased 15 percent, and one additional case of rape, which happened on Sunday near Halsey Street.

It’s when you compare this year’s numbers to 24 years ago, included in published CompStat reports, that Bushwick’s decreased crime rates become clearest.

Every single tracked crime has decreased in rate since 1993, some drastically. Reported rape cases halved; assault decreased by 65 percent; robbery by 81 percent; and murder by nearly 95 percent. Also down from historic rates are non-fatal shootings and misdemeanor sex crimes.

As they stand in 2017, Bushwick’s low crime rates are comparable to places like Bay Ridge, Ridgewood, Castle Hill in the Bronx, and Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Which neighborhoods are actually more dangerous than Bushwick but lack the stigma? To name a few: Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Fort Greene in Brooklyn, as well as Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and all of Midtown in Manhattan.

Crime heat map (photo courtesy of NYPD)

Bushwick’s less-than-savory reputation dates back to the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. The late 1960s saw a massive outflux of residents, leaving what Martin Gottlieb, in a 1986 piece for the New York Times, described as “…a no man’s land of abandoned buildings, empty lots, drugs and arson.” 

This drastic reduction in crime rates in a once-tough neighborhood are due in large part to the Bushwick Initiative, an often-overlooked program started in the mid-2000s. The initiative was a joint effort between the late New York Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez, the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, local businesses, and Bushwick residents themselves.

The Bushwick Initiative sought to improve the lives of Bushwick residents through a combination of commercial revitalization, housing improvement, neighborhood improvements like park cleanups, and a strong focus on crime reduction. The efforts bolstered crime rate reductions that had begun in the early 2000s.

So there you have it — while the Bushwick of 23, 30, or 40 years ago was on the dangerous side, today’s Bushwick could be perceived as a safe place to live, work, or raise a family. That being said, exercise caution and don't be lulled into a false feeling of invincibility. This is New York after all. 

The next time somebody raises an eyebrow when you tell them where you live, you can direct them to some cold hard facts. If they wonder whether Bushwick is still cool, that is another story.

Cover image courtesy of Liza Zins on Flickr

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