World Facts

Most Dangerous Cities In The United States

In this article, we look at homicide rates to determine which cities can be considered to be the most dangerous.

There are many different factors that lead to a city becoming rather dangerous to live or work in, and measuring whether or not a city is safe can be a complicated affair. One popular way of quantifying safety is by examining the homicide rate of a city, which is measuring the number of citizens out of 100,000 who were victims of homicide.

Below are a list of cities organized by homicide rate. The homicide rate was calculated using local newspaper data which reported on homicides in each respective city, which was then calculated with the city's latest reported population. Reasons behind a high crime rate can be populated, and its determining factors can include but are not limited to gun violence, gang violence, income inequality, poverty, and illegal drug trafficking.

The Most Dangerous Cities

10. Milwaukee - 27.3

We start our list with the surprising entry of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Although this midwestern city of just over half a million isn't a common inclusion on the list of dangerous cities, a staggering 145 murders occurred here in the last year reported, giving the city a crime rate of 27.3. One of the main concerns in Milwaukee today is gang violence. It is said to contribute to the city's relatively high crime rate.

9. Chicago - 27.3

In the previous year, Chicago saw a staggering 762 homicides. This is significant enough to mean that Chicago was largely responsible for the overall increase in crime in the United States that is currently being experienced. At this time, it is not completely evident why murders in Chicago are rising so sharply. The current number is closer to rates experienced in the 1980s and 1970s, when crime was higher in the city than it is today. However, due to Chicago's large population of over 2 million, Chicago still only ranks as position number 9 on our list.

8. St. Louis - 27.7

St. Louis, a city in the midwestern state of Missouri, is often cited for its high violent crime rate. With a population of only 317,095, 188 murders were reported in the last calendar year within the city creating a murder rate of 27.75. Although this is a decrease from the crime rates of earlier decades, it is still the highest in the United States.

7. Newark - 33.0

Newark is the largest city in the state of New Jersey by population. In the most recent year, the city experienced 93 homicides. Over recent decades, Newark has garnered a reputation for being unsafe. In 1981, the city saw a record of 161 murders. Last year was an average year for Newark, comparatively speaking. The city did not see the same increase that many other cities experienced. However, Newark's high crime rate stands in high contrast with its nearby neighbor of New York City, where homicide rates remain low.

6. Memphis - 34.7

Last year, Memphis experienced 228 homicides per 100,000 people. The city, which has often ranked among the city's most violent, has seen its crime rate somewhat waver over recent decades. Although crime rates did appear to be falling at the end of the early 2000s, it appears crime may be on the rise again. The organization of gangs is said to be a serious problem in Memphis.

5. Cleveland - 35.3

Cleveland, the second largest city in Ohio by population, is another common inclusion on lists of America's most dangerous cities. In the last reported year alone, Cleveland saw 136 murders. Homicide in Cleveland has been linked to the crack epidemic and gang violence of the 1970s and 1980s. However, the rate remains high today.

4. Kansas City - 42.5

Kansas City can be found both in the states of Kansas and Missouri. It ranks fourth place on the list of most dangerous cities with a crime rate of 42.46. This increase in homicidal crime is a relatively new trend for this midwestern city. Gun violence is largely responsible for the city's homicides. Many of the homicides that occur in Kansas City remain unsolved.

3. New Orleans - 44.5

New Orleans has the third highest homicide rate in the United States, at 44.5 homicides per 100,000 individuals. Like many of the entries on this list, crime has unfortunately been a long going problem for the city. The city remains a popular tourist attraction as much of the criminal activity occurs out of the sight of the average visitor. New Orleans had its most violent year in 1994 when 424 homicides were reported. 175 homicides were reported in all of the last year of records.

2. Detroit - 44.7

Detroit is another city that commonly makes it onto the list of America's most dangerous cities. However, in reality, crime in Detroit has been decreasing steadily since its apex in the 1970s. In the last year, Detroit saw a total of 301 homicides, which creates a rate of 44.7 - the country's second highest. One interesting fact about the crime rate in Detroit is that much of it occurs outside of the city center. On the contrary, Detroit is said to have one of the safest downtown areas in the nation.

1. Baltimore - 51.1

Baltimore is a city located in the eastern seaboard state of Maryland. It too is notorious as a city with violent crime, including homicides. 137 homicides were reported in the last year amongst Baltimore's population of just over half a million, resulting in a high homicide rate of 22.05. However, this number is still a decrease when compared to Baltimore's peak homicide report of 343 in 1993. However, as the population was higher in 1993 than 2015, the per capita rate was not actually as high. The last year on record was Baltimore's second deadliest year of all time.


Although a number of these most dangerous cities do seem to be located in the Midwestern region of the United States, it is hard to notice any geographic pattern as this region describes a great amount of the country. One interesting conclusion is that although homicide rates of cities often cited as the most dangerous tend to be gradually dropping (Detroit, New Orleans, St. Louis), there are other cities who seem to be climbing in rankings (Milwaukee, Kansas City) and some who appear to be stagnating (Newark, Memphis). Gun violence is said to contribute greatly to the rate of murder found across cities in the United States.


RankCityHomicide Rate (Per 100,000 People)
1Baltimore (Maryland)51.10
2Detroit (Michigan)44.70
3New Orleans (Louisiana) 44.50
4Kansas City (Missouri/Kansas)42.46
5Cleveland (Ohio)35.30
6Memphis (Tennessee) 34.70
7Newark (New Jersey) 33.00
8St. Louis (Missouri) 27.75
9Chicago (Illinois) 27.30
10Milwaukee (Wisconsin) 24.10
11Atlanta (Georgia) 23.90
12Oakland (California) 20.90
13Miami (Florida) 20.09
14Washington (D.C.)19.80
15Cinncinati (Ohio) 19.70

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