Masked criminal.

Danger Lurking. 11 Places in America Where People Have Felt the Unsafest

Many Americans are aware of the objectively most dangerous cities in the US. But that doesn’t always transfer over to real-life experiences. These are the US cities where Americans and foreigners alike report feeling the unsafest.

Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.

1: No Man’s Land, Upstate New York

Road in Wisconsin.
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A veteran traveler says the scariest place they’ve visited in the US is a small town in Upstate New York. They describe the town, which they chose not to disclose its name, as having “a real air of decay and depression about everything” and boasting “lots of abandoned properties, damaged cars and unemployed tattooed youths.” The real kicker that made them shudder? They were the first guest to check in at their bed and breakfast in nearly four months.

2: Tenderloin District, San Francisco

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A man attending a Meetup group in the Market Street section of San Francisco decided to park their car in the Tenderloin District. It seemed fine enough by day, but they soon realized that “Tenderloin is a completely different animal at night.” They describe “what was simply a fairly gritty, seedy daytime area morphed into an open-air drug market.” It was the scariest place they’d ever encountered in the US, and reported being grateful to get out with their body and vehicle unharmed.

3: All of San Francisco

Traditional San Francisco houses.
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Another commenter says that from their experience, San Francisco as a whole is the US city where they’ve felt the most unsafe. They describe having to go to the Moscone Center for tech industry conferences and being harassed by panhandlers demanding money. They even had to escape into a Walgreens on Market Street, where a man followed them into the store and tried choking them. Needless to say, their annual tech conference no longer takes place at the Moscone Center.

4: It’s a Tie

Tugging a rope.
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A Canadian consultant who used to travel to the US for work in the 1990s says it’s a tie between New Orleans and Philadelphia for the American cities where they felt the unsafest.

They describe being told that, as a brown person, they shouldn’t trust the cops in New Orleans and that their taxi driver got lost and panicked when they drove into an “American slum.” Luckily, they said, “No one threatened us. We weren’t there long, but the driver’s reaction was enough to know the situation was probably quite dangerous. Not to mention very sad.”

5: East St Louis, Illinois

St. Louis, Missouri skyline.
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East St. Louis’ bad statistics lived up to its reputation for one traveler who’s visited all 50 states. They say East St. Louis goes by the nickname “the murder capital of the US,” and they were glad to get out of it safely. They also state that the area around Monroe and Lanvale Street in Baltimore was another hold-their-breath kind of safety situation.

6: Los Angeles With a “But”

Los Angeles at sunset.
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“For me, it wasn’t a matter of where [I felt unsafe in the US] specifically, but when,” says a commenter. They said although they never felt unsafe growing up in Los Angeles, the scariest time for them was when they drove through LA during the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

7: South-Central Los Angeles

Woman making a "no" sign.
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There are no “buts” about Los Angeles’ safety for one cybersecurity engineer. The most unsafe place they’ve ever been to in America is the south-central region of Los Angeles. “If you have to ask why, I suggest checking crime blotters for the area,” they say.

8: The Old NYC

Downtown New York City.
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New York City in the 1980s was the scariest place one aspiring PhD student said they had ever been to in the US. They felt so unsafe during that time that they chose not to enroll in Courant Institute at NYU’s math Ph.D. program for two consecutive years.

9: South Texas

Texas flag.
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South Texas is the scariest place in the US that one American has ever experienced, but not because of the people. They recall driving on the freeway during a downpour “so ferocious it felt like 5 mph was going too fast.” The catch? “Trucks and giant SUVs roared through it in search of a pileup.” To them, what makes places in the US unsafe are “Americans and our hurtling huge cars and trucks plus weather.”

10: Touché

Car driving on a twisty road.
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“Any rural, mountain road in West Virginia” is where a psychologist says they’ve felt the most unsafe in the US. They didn’t expand upon whether it was the roads themselves or the rural towns they’d come across that made them feel unsafe, but several forum users upvoted their comment in agreement.

11: Oakland, California

Oakland skyline.
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A hitchhiker on an 18-month journey across the US says Oakland takes the cake for being the city where they felt the most unsafe. “There I am walking along with this large, expensive backpack full of first-class camping gear, and I wondered sometimes if I would have to drop it on the ground and just run.” Luckily, they made it through Oakland safely, but it was by far the scariest situation they encountered during their hitchhiking experience in the mid-1970s.

The Most Dangerous City

St. Louis arch.
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Statistically, St. Louis, Missouri, is the most dangerous city in the US. St. Louis also has the highest per-capita crime cost, at $8,457. While St. Louis as a whole has crime, experts say that the northern part of the city tends to have higher violent and property-related crime than other parts.

Source: Quora.

Prison Populations by State Ranked

Man holding handcuffs.
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The United States has the second-largest prisoner population in the world after China and the world’s largest incarceration rate. These are the states with the most and least prisoners per capita.

Prison Populations by State Ranked From 1 to 50

50 Strangest American Laws

Surprised prisoner.
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Luckily, most Americans are clear on treating thy neighbor as they want to be treated to reduce the chance of fines and jail time. But did you know you could be breaking the law by making a face at your dog? These are the weirdest laws in each state.

50 Strangest Laws in the US That Make Some Americans Criminals

Land of the Safe

Security guard looking at a city.
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Pull out your bucket list. These are the safest cities in America for residents and travelers.

Land of the Safe: 15 Least Dangerous Cities in the US

How Dangerous Is Baltimore?

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With crime through the roof, Baltimore doesn’t have the best safety track record in the US. But is it really as dangerous as people say it is? 

14 Voices, 1 Question: Is Baltimore Really as Dangerous as People Say It Is?

18 Common Misconceptions About Poverty

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Far too many people have misconceptions about poverty. The troubling part? You might be poor even though you don’t see yourself that way.

18 Common Misconceptions About Poverty

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