New York City Travel Guide

Health & Safety

Despite its dated reputation for being crime-ridden, New York is statistically the safest large city in the United States, and its crime rate per person is lower than the national average and the crime rate of many small towns. An aggressive law enforcement policy, coupled with an increase in police presence during the 1990's under the leadership of then-mayor Rudy Giuliani, is believed by many New Yorkers to have been responsible for a sharp reduction in the crime rate. You can also be assured of a high police presence in Times Square, public transportation hubs and other major crowded places. For the most part, the legendary subway crimes of the 1970's and 1980's are now a thing of the past, and it is generally safe to travel around at night in the subway as long as you use common sense and keep a moderate level of vigilance.

The most common crime against tourists (not including being overcharged!) is bag snatching. Never let go of your bag, especially in the subway but also when eating at a restaurant. Take special care if sitting outdoors or in a crowded self-service restaurant. Leave your passport and other valuables that you don't need to carry in a hotel safe or hidden in your suitcase. Don't flaunt a wad of money if you can help it; if you want to be safer, count your money in your room before you go out and take only what you think you may need. Unless you have protective outer wear, consider not wearing expensive jewelry, and hide valuables like cameras when you're not using them.

While muggings are rare, they do happen. Take a tip from seasoned New Yorkers and always try to be aware of who's walking near you in all directions (especially behind you), at all times. Always be aware of your surroundings, especially if you find yourself on a lightly traveled or poorly lit street. Certain neighborhoods that are off the tourist path should be avoided in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Riverside Park and Central Park can be dangerous at night. If you go to an evening outdoor concert at one of the parks, follow the crowd out of the park before heading toward your destination.

In a post-9/11 New York, airport style security is becoming a common sight at a growing list of buildings, museums and tourist attractions, even the Public Library. Generally you can expect to have your bags checked (either manually by a security guard or through an x-ray machine) and walk through a metal detector. Unlike their counterparts at JFK and LaGuardia, security screenings at building entrances are surprisingly quick and efficient - and you can even leave your shoes on!

If you think you've inadvertently wandered into a dangerous area, hop into a cab, if available, or into the nearest subway station and go elsewhere. If a subway platform is deserted, stay within sight of the station agent if possible.

New York has its share of odd people: talkative pan-handlers, lonely people just wanting a chat, religious preachers, people with psychological disorders, etc. If you prefer not to speak with someone who approaches you for a chat, do what most New Yorkers do: completely ignore them or say "Sorry, gotta go" while continuing to walk at a brisk pace.

Despite the stereotypes, many New Yorkers are nice people and don't mind giving out directions (time allowing), so don't be afraid to ask! If you ever get into trouble, approach the nearest police officer. You'll find them to be friendly, polite, and very helpful.


source: Wikivoyage

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