Tuesday, June 23, 2009

NYC is Safe (Until You're A Victim)

I came across a piece the NY Times put together called the NYC Homicides Map. You can look at murder data mapped out across the city, each grim event appearing as a pinpoint with correlating data (victim/perp age, method used, date, etc). It's not pretty to look at, but it is incredibly informing. If you are willing to understand this as a reality where we live, you might not avoid the data, but rather try to find a use for it. Just as you could get hit crossing the street or end up with a cessna flying into your bedroom, danger can happen anywhere. This data doesn't say that you'll be murdered in one particular area; it just shows where to go to increase your odds.

My immediate application for this map was to help me understanding relative safety of neighborhoods with which I'm less familiar. One such neighborhood is East Harlem, said to be one of the last good deals in Manhattan Real Estate. So we bought in to the hype, and visited an open-house that looked promising. Outside the very charming apartment, my comfort-level was challenged (especially in thinking about my girls), and this was during daylight hours. I thought maybe the map could help inform me: was it really unsafe or just my lack of knowledge of the area?

Neighborhood of the open house:
Each dot represents a murder at that location (Since 2003)

For comparison, I looked at my neighborhood.

While it's true that where we live is very quiet and safe(comparatively speaking), it's affirming to know my sense of discomfort in East Harlem had some grounding in reality.

For the a God's eye view, here's the big picture of NYC:

The map and data is really interesting and slightly disturbing all at the same time. We've already looked at other areas where we are (were?) considering buying and are wondering the following:

  1. Will we let this information effect our home-buying decision?
  2. Is the "sense of the neighborhood" more meaningful to us than these statistics?
  3. Is there any way we can keep our families from finding this map?

Link: NYC Homicides Map [via StreetEasy Talk]

1 comment:

Terry B said...

Murder aside [which is the most final assault, after all], finding similar maps on other kinds of crime would be even more helpful. Not all, but most murders are committed by someone we know. But robberies, break-ins, pickpocketing and other crimes are more often committed against strangers--someone who can't give your name to the police. We've found a site for here in Chicago that breaks out all kinds of crime, block by block. When we've looked to rent or buy in certain neighborhoods, it's given us a sense of what the comfort level and overall hassle factor might be. Statistics aside, trust your gut. If you're not comfortable somewhere, will you ever be happy living there?