Manhattan, bounded by three rivers, is the smallest but most populated New York borough. Overflowing with skyscrapers, it has an impeccable skyline. Bustling with businesses and people, it is arguably one of the biggest business hubs in the world.
The city is known as “home of the icons”, as it houses world-renowned assets such as Yankee Stadium and The Guggenheim Museum. It’s a true patron for the arts, celebrating every art form in some way. This guide will give you some insight into a few of them.
With something to do on every street, it’s no wonder it’s been featured in numerous songs and movies. But with all of its luster, is it safe for tourists? We’re going to unpack that for you.
Why Visit Manhattan?
Manhattan is said to be the heart of New York. With all of its best traits and talents converging on the island. Theater District is an amazing area in Manhattan to experience these talents.
The Theater District is home to the iconic Broadway. There are multiple that are always running on Broadway; see Chicago, The Lion King, or The Phantom of The Opera. If theater isn’t for you, take in the massive display of lights and colors that make up the Times Square billboards in Midtown.
With a skyline like Manhattan’s, it’s no wonder it has so many buildings for you to go and appreciate. There’s Freedom Tower, the Empire State Building, and the Edge Observation Deck.
Is Manhattan Dangerous?
Manhattan isn’t known for crime. In fact, New York as a whole is said to be safer than you may think. Like any major city, New York has its problems and points of concern. It would appear that apart from a few minor factors, Manhattan isn’t one of those problems.
There is an overwhelming police presence in the borough, the NYPD is on constant patrol throughout the island. Avoid areas that are overly quiet or seem deserted, especially at night.
With the magnitude of people that flock to Manhattan, it has become a hotbed for petty crimes such as pickpocketing. With it being a crowded place, it’s hard to say be wary of congested areas. So, to be safe, keep your bags in front of you and ensure that you don’t keep anything of value in any outside pockets.
Dangerous Areas in Manhattan
East Harlem, also known as Spanish Harlem, is known for its significance in African American culture. The Harlem Renaissance was the blossoming of African American culture during the 1920s, impacting history and literature.
Notorious for its gang violence and drugs, it’s one of the most dangerous areas in the city. Due to gang affiliations, violent crimes are quite likely in the area. Stick to West and Central Harlem. You are likely to fall victim to pickpocketing or being mugged in East Harlem. People aren’t shy to verbally harass or insult you. We would say don’t plan to spend too much time there.
Midtown isn’t particularly dangerous, it’s an area of concern due to the number of attractions in it. It’s at the heart of Manhattan with sites like Times Square, Central Park, and Fifth Avenue.
These sites also make it a hub for petty crimes. Tourists flock to these locations and indulge in what Manhattan has to offer, enticing petty criminals. You are likely to be pickpocketed when roving through Midtown. Keep your bags close to you, and don’t draw too much attention to yourself.
Central Park is relatively safe, but avoid it at night unless there’s an event there.
Is It Safe To Live in Manhattan?
There are numerous museums in Manhattan for you to explore, most notably the American Museum of Natural History and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Both offer amazing experiences, one in history and the other in art.
If you’re a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, there is no better place to be proud and loud than Manhattan. There are multiple queer bars like The Stonewall Inn that you should definitely go and check out. And if you go in June, you can take part in the annual NYC Pride.
If you find yourself unsure of how to spend your time, this New York City itinerary should help.
Safe Areas in Manhattan
Tribeca, short for ‘Triangle Below Canal Street’, is known for its cobblestone streets and historical buildings. Home to The Tribeca Film Festival, luxury shops, restaurants, and old factories that have been converted into lofts.
It’s known to be an area that a lot of celebrities like Robert Downey Jr. and Taylor Swift like to frequent. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll spot a few of them.
There are hordes of art galleries in Tribeca for any art lovers out there, like the James Cohan Gallery. For a relaxing day, head to Pier 25 at Hudson River Park and enjoy the beautiful views.
Known for its lovely brownstones, eclectic restaurants, and the famous Chelsea Market, Chelsea is an amazing neighborhood. It also has multiple boutiques and stores from major brands, perfect for lovers of fashion.
When in Chelsea, you should definitely check out Little Island, which is a park on the water, made to look like it’s floating. It’s the typical park experience but more Instagramable.
For sports, pizza, drinks, and queer energy, head to Boxers NYC, an LGBTQIA+ sports bar. Enjoy the themed parties, play some pool, and cheer on your favorite teams while you’re there.
This neighborhood is essentially split up into two areas. One, filled with trendy restaurants and nightclubs, and the other, is the New York University’s domain. It’s a very diverse area, perfect for new residents.
Visit Washington Square Park to people-watch and really get a sense of the different types of characters. Sit by the fountain and enjoy some food or coffee, it’s also a perfect spot for pictures.
If you’re a fan of the show Friends, you’re in luck. Head to 90 Bedford Street, corner of Grove and Bedford, and check out the building where most of the show was shot and where the friends lived.
Warnings and Dangers in Manhattan
Manhattan isn’t as scary as it may seem. It’s like any major city, keep your wits about you and you’ll be fine. There are many places to see but be aware that a lot of those places are operational in the day and at night they’ll be dead.
The Financial District and many parks are not to be experienced at nightime. You will be isolated and that leaves you vulnerable. Stay away from areas that appear to be too empty.
It’s advisable that you check any and all reviews of your hotel or Airbnb. They may not look as advertized.
Overall Travel Risk (2/10)
The overall safety risk of traveling to Manhattan is very low. It’s actually quite safe and one of the safest places in New York. It helps to know the layout of the city so that you don’t get lost or end up somewhere you shouldn’t
Be aware of your surroundings, especially at ATM’s. People may stand behind you in an effort to grab your money. Speaking of money, don’t carry a lot of it at one time and don’t flash it either. You’ll just be announcing to pickpockets that you’re available to them.
The risk of using public transport is very low during the day. It’s in the evening that you need to be wary of. Avoid entering an empty subway car, rather wait for one with more people to come. Also avoid being in the subway when it’s empty.
Cabs are safe to use in the city, just make sure that they are marked cabs. Unmarked cars may be trying to kidnap you so be careful. It’s also advised that you pay attention when you’re on the subway or in a bus, the map may be confusing, but make sure you get on the right one.
The risk of scams is mild. There are a number of scams targeted at tourists but if you know them you should be fine. Remember, if it’s too good to be true then it probably isn’t. Refrain from accepting ‘free’ tickets for shows or excursions and buying them from a guy on the street.
Rather buy them from the website to be safe. Lovers of fashion beware of people selling fake designer items at knocked down prices. Another common scam is taxi drivers pretending that their meter is broken to charge you more.
The risk of mugging is mild to low depending on where you are. Muggers usually target people in crowded streets so that they can grab your bag, phone, or camera and run into the crowd.
So keep your bags close to you or over your body. With the major police presence in the city, muggers don’t often strike. You are most likely to be mugged on empty subway cars or in dark neighborhoods. So if you avoid those scenarios, you’ll be good.
Risk for Female Travelers
The risk for female tourists is low. You’re not more at risk in Manhattan than you would be in most major cities. Just stick to the basics. Don’t accept drinks from strangers, make sure it comes from the bar.
Avoid isolated areas, especially at night. Be able to speak up for yourself at all times. Saying no can save you a lot of time and trouble. Don’t accept things from people aside from scams, they may be trying to spark up a conversation.
Tips for Staying Safe in Manhattan
The island of Manhattan isn’t particularly dangerous or worrisome, however, there are definitely things that you should be aware of. Avoid the areas that you don’t know much about or haven’t researched. Even though it’s safe that doesn’t mean it isn’t without some danger.
If you need any kind of assistance, ask a local. They’re not as mean as they’ve been portrayed. For now, here are five safety tips for Manhattan:
- Leave the jewelry at home. It’s best not to wear anything that may draw too much attention so rather leave it behind or wear it out to a place you know is safe.
- Beware of the homeless. Most of the homeless people keep to themselves and mind their own business. You may encounter one that’s threatening you or verbally accosting you. Ignore them and keep walking.
- Enjoy the views, but keep it moving. When walking through the streets of Manhattan don’t suddenly stop to stare at the buildings. There are a lot of people in the city and they’ve got places to be. So keep the pace or move aside.
- Stay far from the platform edge. When waiting in the subway, don’t stand too close to the edge as you may get pushed down. It’s a rarity, but there are some people out there pushing others over.
- It’s rude to stare. So don’t do it. Be aware of your surroundings but don’t stare at people. You may offend someone by staring at them.
Is Manhattan Safe? │Frequently Asked Questions
Is Tap Water Safe To Drink?
Yes. Tap water in New York is very safe to drink and reportedly tastes really nice. So, don’t feel shy to taste it.
Is It Safe to Drive?
New York is safe to drive in but only if you know how to handle their style of driving. It’s very fast paced and nerve-wracking so be aware. The city is great for walking and it has a great public transport system.
Is It Safe for Solo Travel?
Yes. It’s very safe for people traveling alone. You’ll find that you’re safer in areas where there are other people. Just avoid isolated places and you should have an amazing time.
Is It Safe To Bring Small Kids?
It can seem daunting to have small kids in such a big city, but they’ll be more than safe. Plus the city has loads of fun activities for them to do like going to the zoo. Just make sure that you keep them close to you when walking on the streets so that they don’t get lost.