Monday, June 22, 2009

Is Cincinnati Home to the 'Most Dangerous Neighborhood' in America? I Beg to Differ...

I woke up this morning to find a friend of mine on facebook had posted a link to an article which claimed the "neighborhood" of "Central Parkway/Liberty St." was the "worst neighborhood in the United States"

Is it? No! Here's some living proof:

The few blocks highlighted in this "study" are merely a small sliver of the much larger "Over-The-Rhine" neighborhood and yes, when you take historical data of crimes that occur in this area, they are quite high, but I'm sure if you took the number of crimes that occur on the street I live on then divide it by the small number of residents, you'd also get a high number.

-Officer Daniel O`Malley of the Cincinnati Police Department's District 1 writing a citation for an open container violation.

From February - March 2008 I was on an assignment from Ohio University in which I participated in three "ride alongs" with officers of the Cincinnati Police Department's District 1. I love Cincinnati, but for the sake of photography I was kind of hoping to catch some compelling photographs of crime in Cincinnati since District 1 patrols some of the most "notorious" areas of the city such as Over-The-Rhine, the West End in addition to the riverfront and Mt. Adams.

-Officer Givens of the Cincinnati Police Department patrolling District 1.

The truth is, I was underwhelmed. I took away some of the best photographs from my Photojournalism career, but most of the time was spent watching the officers deal with small incidents that were followed by citations rather than "violent crime" or just going about a patrol. That's not to say crime doesn't happen, but it doesn't happen as often as people like to think. All three officers I rode with agreed: Crime in Cincinnati, particularly in OTR (which includes the "most dangerous" section in the aforementioned "study") has decreased at an incredible rate.

The full multimedia piece for the project entitled "Civilian Observer" can be viewed here:

The photo project was incredibly eye opening and gave me a chance to see what crime in Cincinnati was really like. The men and women of the Cincinnati Police Department, especially District 1, have been a key force in driving crime down. It's a shame that their efforts get overlooked by "studies" such as this one.

-Officer O`Malley of the Cincinnati Police Department overlooking the city from Mt. Adams at the end of a shift.

Need more proof that Cincinnati isn't as dangerous as they say it is? Imagine walking down into one of these "notorious neighborhoods" at midnight. Why would anyone do such a thing? What if local radio 700 WLW radio personality Bill Cunningham dared you to go down to the corner of "15th and Vine St." at midnight on a Saturday night? Would you be able to stomach venturing into one of "the worst neighborhood in the United States?" I did...


...and it was pretty boring. The only person who said anything to me were some drunken college kids heading towards the bars on Main St. No one tried to rob, rape, stab or kill me.


To get the full story on this little adventure check out: Streetcars, Bill Cunningham and a field trip to Over-The-Rhine.

Over-The-Rhine doesn't deserve the reputation it gets as being a rough and tumble, crime filled neighborhood in the city's center. True, crime happens and crime has existed on a larger scale in the past, but to see what Over-The-Rhine is becoming today, check out the most recent update from Zach Fein over at Local.Architecture Cincinnati:

What once was blight in Over-The-Rhine...

/ now becoming one of the fastest growing renovation projects in Cincinnati...


For more photographs and information on the multiple renovation and redevelopment projects going on in Over-The-Rhine, check out the most recent post at Local.Architecture Cincinnati.

So let's review:
Is there crime in Cincinnati? Yes.
Is it as bad as 'they' say it is? No.
Is this "study" crap? Yes!

Until next time,
-Ronny "Gordon Bombay" Salerno

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Previous update: June 14, 2009 :: The Catacombs of Cleveland


  1. Interesting that this web-site doesn't cite specific databases that it generated its "facts" from. A casual glance at five-year data -- that is current and publically available from the CPD, clearly shows a substantial decrease in Part 1 and Part 2 crimes in OTR, yet it isn't at the least bit relevant in this "study" by this uncredible web-site.

    It's akin to looking at a Forbe's article for the best places to retire.

    Bill Cunningham, I'm waiting to be raped and robbed of my life at 15th and Vine, as you indicated I would have been on that midnight during a Saturday. I live only four blocks from that "drug-infused, gangster-haven" corner, and yet I'm by it almost daily. A white, Asian young-professional that carries around a $5,000 camera and just as much in value in camera lenses. Yet I have yet to be mugged.

    Most dangerous? Please.

  2. That's a very good article in defense of Over-the-Rine. It's too bad the people who need to read it probably won't.

  3. The "most dangerous" article also failed to recognize that migrations into a neighborhood can affect crime. In OTR, for example, many instances of crimes are due to people from outside the neighborhood traveling to OTR for nefarious purposes (drugs, prostitution, etc.) The statistics the "most dangerous" article assume that every crime is inflicted upon the residents (i.e., "1 in 4 chance of being a victim in a year), which is extremely misleading.

    As someone mentioned previously though, those who are set on believing OTR is a terrible place won't take to time to consider this.

  4. Wow, this is amazing. I've been in a lot of big cities (born and raised in Cincy, tho) and the place I was afraid to be in the most was downtown Detroit. I'm sure New York and Miami have even worse places. Shoot, even here in small town Bozeman, there has been a great increase in crime over the past ten years. Its everywhere, but certainly OTR could not be the MOST dangerous place!
    Thanks for sharing the info with us. I love your website. The photography and information is awesome!

  5. on paper over the rine/clifton is the 1st most dangerous neighborhood in the united states take it or leave it

  6. As a former resident of OTR, I hate to see articles like this study. I never felt in danger while I lived there. It seemed as though the only people who were in danger were those who were involved with drugs or other crimes.

    The statistic that I do think is the most sad, though, is that 76.1% of the children in the neighborhood are living in poverty. I have to believe that growing up in poverty doesn't give you a great start to avoiding becoming involved with drugs or other crimes.

  7. i'm with kyle... unfortunately the people that need to read this, won't. you are preaching to the choir.

    sigh. i wish this city would get it, already.

    to be honest, this makes me want to move to a city that is proud of itself. there's a handful of us trying to make a difference and we keep getting beat down by moronic cincinnati natives who are ignorant about their own city.

  8. I'm surprised Dayton isn't on that list even though I'm not aware of the facts.

  9. I am surprised that Dayton is not on that list either, given how bad conditions are in that city. I had to wonder though if there was any credence to the claim of Cincinnati having had the most dangerous neighborhood in America. This story was a nice way to counter that assertion.

  10. Hello fellow neighboring state. I am from Indianapolis IN and came across the article stating Cin City had the worst neighborhood in the country. I read the article and then came to your blog. I just wanted to comend you for standing up for your city and going the extra mile to show just how "bad" it really isn't.

    Kudos to you.....

    Mrs. Liz from Indy

  11. You're not going to see as much crime in the winter. Did you think to ask the police about that on your ride-along? I would hope you've used some sense of journalistic ability and questioned that. It's no secret that crime is more rampant during warm weather.

    When we were at Children's in Cincy for a long stay, one of the ER doctors got hit with a bullet (skidded across the top of her head) and had to drive herself back to the ER. She was at the corner, right by Childrens when it happened.

    Yeah, Cincy should not be proud of its image. Not even a little bit. Having also lived in St.L, Cleveland and several other big cities, I have to say that Cincy is the worst as far as filth.

    Another thing to consider, why would A&E's show "The First 48" bother with going to Cincy if there wasn't as much crime? They go to cities with high murder rates and follow the investigations. There's a reason they film in Cincy. It happens there.

    Feb. - March? And you were on the street at midnight? Try it during the summer. Spend a week out there. You'll see. It's not near as safe as you like to hope. I wish it were, but it's not.

  12. To "Mrs. Liz from Indy:" Thanks for your comments and I'm glad you liked the article. Cincinnati certainly has it's fair share of problems and crime, but is no where near the worst place in America to be and not as bad as this flawed report makes it out to be. Thanks for checking out the website and stay tuned, I might have an update from Indy this summer.

    To the second anonymous poster, thanks for taking the time to visit and comment, however I would recommend reading more thoroughly next time. Yes, there is a spike in crime during the warmer months and there certainly was no shortage of crime between March and February when I did multiple "ride alongs" for the project, however as was noted in the article... all three officers featured in the project (all of which are at least 10 year veterans of district 1 or more) agree that violent crime in OTR has dramatically decreased in the years following the 2001 race riots.

    I never claimed Cincinnati was perfect, nor that it was free of crime. My argument was that this report was flawed and mislabeled the city, in fact it didn't even mention an actual "neighborhood," just a small sliver of one and as Mr. Cahal pointed out in the first comment, they didn't even factor in statistics by the Cincinnati Police Department. Even WKRC and other local news agencies agreed the report was "flawed."

    Just because A&E filmed a television show here and just because you can think back to one example of a violent crime in Cincinnati does not mean this report is true. Even the crime you mentioned took place in North Avondale, nowhere near the neighborhood in question. Using your logic I guess it would be safe to assume that since an episode of Style networks "Clean House" was filmed here everyone in Cincinnati has a messy house. Or that since "Airborne" was filmed here in the early 90's that everyone in the city likes to rollerblade. I mean why else would they film it here if it wasn't true?

    Unlike you seem to think, this city has a lot to be proud of and every year it makes great strides in the right direction to not only improve downtown, but attempts to improve it's neighborhoods. Like I acknowledged in my blog post...violent crime still exists but even the officers who walk the streets agree that it's dramatically decreased and it's nowhere near as bad as this "report" likes to make it out to be.

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  14. I moved here from Chicago (Chicago proper, not the suburbs), and went to school, worked, and lived in several "gentrifying" neighborhoods, including the areas south of Printers Row and west of the Loop. I either took the El home or walked from work, and was greeted by regular fixtures who were homeless, addicts, prostitutes and others of unfortunate circumstances. It was not tourism council fodder, but if cautious and purposeful, you were fine. I don't understand the wariness of OTR, and other "rough" neighborhoods in Cincinnati. Like ANYWHERE, even in the most seemingly upscale neighborhood, one must be aware and safe, but I've never felt any need to be overly concerned here. I've generally found the OTR residents will mind their own business if you mind yours. OTR is a beautiful, historic area, full of interesting shops, other businesses, and renovation projects. I hope the people there - new or old - will be able to successfully integrate (or at the very least cohabitate) and bring Cincinnati the best of all combined worlds.

  15. I read this article, in my opinion it was interested but I do not if we can call it truth... I think that life as police officer is one of the amazing and fast lifestyle in the world!

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