Expensive, Gentrified, and the Safest Big City in the US

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It will precipitate endless argument on just what caused such a massive, consistent decline (broken windows policing, the end of the crack wars, etc), but New York looks set to again break its own record for lowest number of homicides since the city started (accurately) recording them back in 1963. Imagine, all this improvement despite those hideously violent video games set in "Liberty City," despite our supposedly coarsened culture.

The New York Times has details:

The story line of murder in New York is one that has been undergoing constant revision since 1963, when the Police Department began tracking homicides in a way that officials now deem reliable. (Before then, homicides were not counted until they were solved.) There have been rises — the number peaked at 2,245 in 1990 — and subsequent falls. But there have never been as few homicides as this year.

The city is on track, for the second time in three years, to have the fewest homicides in a 12-month period since the current record keeping system began. As of Sunday, there had been 461; the record low was in 2007, when there were 496 for the entire year.

The toll has gone down despite predictions that it would rise in a bad economy — a notion rejected by the city's police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly. But challenges persist: With the city facing a $4.1 billion budget deficit, the police force — which has been reduced by 6,000 officers since 2001 — may have to shrink further.

And as a result, Bushwick and Bed-Stuy are overflowing with hipsters on fixed-gear bikes, wearing ironic little mustaches, bitching and moaning about the horrid gentrification of Brooklyn, the so-called Disneyfication of Times Square, and how New York used to be so cool, so authentic when you could see Television at Max's Kansas City for fifty cents and get stabbed in the neck for wandering into Crown Heights dressed like Elvis Costello. Yeah, those were the days.

Reason science correspondent Ron Bailey on "broken windows" here.

NEXT: Black Liquor Binge

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  1. And as a result, Bushwick and Bed-Stuy are overflowing with hipsters on fixed-gear bikes

    If those goddamn New Yorkers had just voted for Burns last month, they would not have had that problem any more.

  2. I would venture to say, as a resident of New York City for 7 years in the last half of the 90’s and the beginning of the 2000’s, that there were several factors involved. The massive, massive police force (35,000–it’s an army) does allow for a pretty substantial blanketing coverage of the city. Broken window theory may have had an effect. Gentrification of many, many areas has definitely had an effect. And crime in general has declined continuously in the US for years, so why should NYC be any different?

  3. New York used to be so cool, so authentic when you could see Television at Max’s Kansas City for fifty cents and get stabbed in the neck for wandering into Crown Heights dressed like Elvis Costello. Yeah, those were the days. when I could have afforded to live there
    I couldn’t afford to smoke cigarettes in NYC now. I prefer the old dirty,fun,dangerous New York.

    1. Ah, the New York City of The Warriors.

    2. Don’t worry, you’re not allowed to smoke cigarettes or anything else there now.

  4. So I take it you can’t buy $3 bags of heroin (good for about 5 doses if you don’t have too much tolerance) in Bushwick anymore?

  5. I don’t know if NYC was more cool, but it was definitely cheaper.

    The reason Greenwich Village became Greenwich Village was because it was so cheap that people whose incomes put them one step above living in a flophouse could live there.

    It’s really somewhat unfathomable to a person my age, who came along a bit too late for all that. The cultural attractions of NYC are essentially the same as they ever were – the same museums, theatre scene, music scene, art scene, restaurants, etc. – but once upon a time you could actually afford to live there inexpensively.

    1. You can afford to live there inexpensively, still. If you are willing to live in a shithole in Queens, that is.

      1. Yes, but back in the day, there was an abundance of shitholes in every borough.

        Market failure?

        1. It is still entirely possible to live reasonably inexpensively. Get a roommate or two, and live in an unfashionable part of Queens or Brooklyn. I don’t think there was ever a time when it was inexpensive to have a nice place in a good neighborhood. People who talk about how cheap it used to be to live in the East Village or Soho or whatever are usually forgetting that those used to be shitty neighborhoods when it was cheap to live there. I remember reading something a while back by a guy who mused about how cheaply he’d been able to live in NYC way back, but then recalled that he’d also been living in an SRO with shared bathrooms; nobody wants to live like that now.

          The thing is, though, that neighborhoods get better and neighborhoods get worse, but they never get any closer together, so there is that to consider.

        2. There are still abundant shitholes if you want to live in my neighborhood on the upper, upper westside.

  6. So one of the factors in the lower murder rate is that there are fewer Elvis impersonators?

    1. You mean Elvis Costello impersonators.

      And the answer is yes. There is no limit to the positive consequences that result from a lower rate of Elvis Costello impersonation.

    2. You mean Elvis Costello impersonators.

      And the answer is yes. There is no limit to the positive consequences that result from a lower rate of Elvis Costello impersonation.

  7. New York used to be a lot cheaper to live in–then came rent control. Since it isn’t economical to build housing in New York anymore, rent control ended up raising rents. Ah, the law of unintended consequences.

  8. But I thought that New Yawkers were being slaughtered in the streets, because us evil Virginians insist on owning guns. Bloomy said so.

    1. Swallow your words, sonny. If you don’t think Bloomy and pals will use this stat to point to the efficacy of gun control, think again.

      1. Bloomberg has already pretty much done so. It seems dumb to me – it’s not like there’s been any new major anti-gun legislation or programs lately – but that’s Bloomberg for you.

  9. It obviously is because of the stringent NYC gun control laws.

    Thank you Michael Bloomberg, thank you!! You saved us all!! Now please come to Virginia once again and enlighten the rest of us, who have already been enjoying far lower murder rates than NYC for decades.

    1. It might not be entirely gun control laws.

      You forgot about the bans on smoking, transfat, sweets and other bad evil food.

      That means that now if a person were to overcome their moral reservations and break one of the gun control laws, the intended victim would be much skinner and therefore harder to hit. And if you missed them on the first shot, they would be able to use their increased health to run quickly out of range.

      You have to remember that the nanny state only works as a system. One law won’t rule them all.

  10. It’s because most of the people who needed killing already have been by now.

  11. The gentrification in Midwest cities makes it easy to see the effects. I’ve mentioned it here before. There’s an almost guaranteed progression: gay community moves in, flippers and small scale developer/renovators move in, business moves in, hipsters come pay 10 times the cost of property as little as 5 years ago.

    If you want to make money in real estate off of gentrification follow the gay folks. (this model is starting to fail as the gay communities are popping up less and less due to acceptance of gay people, damn open minded people ruining profitable models!)

  12. So shifting murders to Newark counts as success?

    1. Dumping anything in Jersey is a success. Isn’t that what NJ is there for?

  13. I WISH I had seen Television at Max’s.

  14. Dangerous can be fun, or part of it, because it often goes hand in hand with freedom–skydiving, mountain climbing, fucking your wife’s sister, etc. The blanket dismissal of the idea that the old, dangerous NYC (late 60s though the very early 90s) might have been more fun is what is really juvenile.

    You’re a pussy, Moynihan.

    1. Dangerous can be fun, or part of it, because it often goes hand in hand with freedom–skydiving, mountain climbing, fucking your wife’s sister, etc.

      One of these things is not like the other.

  15. NYC is dull, is full of yuppies and hipsters…. you can’t even hear the funny in your face new york accent any more….. everyone is an arrogant yuppi from austin, des moines or omaha… or a bunch of ridiculous hipsters from boston riding their bikes around and buying their organic cupcakes from the organic cup cake store near their house!!!

    What happened to the loud funny prostitutes from times square??? where are the breakdancers in battery park???? where the loud colorful characters such as big haired blonde with the fake fur coats speaking in a loud NY voice? I miss that new york

    I miss alberto’s colombian coffeee shop at the corner of 52nd street, I miss Rob’s fried southern style chicken in the lower east side, I miss the hamburger joint run by the jewish family in soho… shit even chinatown is starting to shrink and die out as the area is resettled by mid upper class white snobs!!!!

    some of the most colorful, funky new york landmarks are gone!!!! now it’s all starbucks, disney store, duane reade, mcdonalds…. soon walmart????

    this place is dull, the colorful minorities, the blue collar native white new yorkers, and the urban jungle feeling is nowhere to be found anymore!!!!!
    it feels like i am in indianapolis or fresno at times!!! IT’S DEPRESSING!

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