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10 Worst Neighborhoods in Philadelphia (Updated 2023) 

Worst Neighborhoods in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is one of the most historically rich locations in the United States. It has a long history long before colonial life and was home to Native American tribes before becoming one of the main sites of the United States’ revolutionary origin story. Philly remains one of the most prominent cities in the United States, and according to World Population Review, it is the 6th biggest city in the United States based on most recent census data.

While the culture and history of Philadelphia make it attractive to visitors and residents alike, that doesn’t mean crime isn’t something you should worry about. Like any city, Philly does have crime and poorer areas especially are more prone to crime. Neighborhood Scout suggests that Philadelphia’s crime rate has a crime rate of 34.66 per 1000 people. Its violent crime rate is 8.11 per 1,000 people. These rates are higher than the national average and Pennsylvania’s average, but as PA’s biggest city, these higher rates are somewhat expected.

There are plenty of safe areas in the city, but when planning a visit or a move, it’s crucial to know what the worst neighborhoods in Philadelphia are and how to protect yourself when in Philly. The following neighborhoods have been ranked as the most dangerous neighborhoods in Philadelphia, which does not mean you cannot visit them, but it does mean that when deciding to go to them, you want to use extra caution and understand what you are getting yourself into before planning a trip.

How We Created This List

The methodology we have used ensures that the best, most up-to-date information has been used when compiling this list. We have used a range of sources and methods to give clear information and appropriately rank the locations on the list.

We used the following methods:

  • We started by making a list of all the neighborhoods in Philly and began adding key facts to each location. This technique allowed us to narrow down the neighborhoods and determine which ones were the worst based on their overall social, economic, and political environments.
  • While there is no exact formula for determining which neighborhoods are the worst, we have ranked different factors that people consider when determining how desirable a location is. Crime rates had a huge impact, but other data and info such as economic factors, school systems, amenities, and attractions have also been included.
  • We also considered how diverse neighborhoods were and how factors like racial tension may impact how people are treated in that area.
  • The goal was to use the most reliable resources. When possible, government data was used. We also used research from independent sources and organizations. We analyzed all data for validity to rule out inaccurate information.
  •  Some qualitative research was done to get an idea of the impressions of people who live in Philly to give an additional perspective that cannot be captured in research alone. However, we made sure that the data could support the qualitative info we encountered.

By having a streamlined research process, we could accurately create a list that reflects the current state of Philly and its neighborhoods.

Is Philadelphia Safe?

The violent crime rate is among the metrics used to determine a locale’s safety. Examples of violent crimes include robbery, murder, forcible rape, and non-negligent manslaughter. Property crimes include theft, forgeries, and burglary.

The violent crime rate in Philadelphia is 139% more than the national average. In Philadelphia, you have a 1 in 123 chance of being a victim of violent crime. The good news, however, is that the violent crime rate has fallen recently, showing that Philly continues to become safer.

Provided that you keep off the problematic neighborhoods, Philadelphia is safe. This should therefore be a non-issue for visitors. If you insist on visiting the less desirable areas, make sure you exercise extreme caution.

Among the most dangerous neighborhoods of Philadelphia include Strawberry Mansion, Elmwood, Hunting Park, and Fairhill. Let us now deeply analyze the worst areas in Philadelphia below and what qualities have established their places on this list.

10. North Central

From the name of this neighborhood, it is easy to guess where this neighborhood is located. North Central has an estimated population of 21,880. Compared to the national average, this neighborhood has a 524% higher violent crime average, giving a good idea of why this area can be so intimidating.

Despite being included in the list of Philadelphia’s worst neighborhoods, this locale has some exceptional aspects. For instance, part of the Temple University campus rests in this neighborhood. Apart from that, Girard College sits outside the southwest edge of North Central.

Even with lots of exciting locations and its relatively small population, the area is faced with a rough economy. If you are not a student in this region, prospects won’t be bright for you. People here struggle with a median income of $25,296 and an unemployment rate of 7.9%.

The irony of the locale is that even with the famous learning institutions around, local public schools still suffer. Housing problems and crime engulf this neighborhood. North Central is ranked 16th on the list of the most hazardous neighborhoods in Philadelphia. About 8% of people will be crime victims in this location, which is a risk most people don’t want to take.

9. Frankford

This neighborhood rests on the Northeast side of Philadelphia. This town is bounded by Oxford Circle, Frankford Creek, and other towns. It is roughly six miles northeast of Center City. Back in the 80s, the place was very scary, and while it has certainly evolved since that time, it still endures a lot of struggles for crime, employment, schools, and amenities.

The population in Frankford is 39,792, with an average annual salary of $33,217. In this neighborhood, 1369 crimes are expected in every 100,000 people. These statistics speak to a neighborhood that has many social and economic challenges to overcome.

History highlights how troubles have seeped into this neighborhood. A murderer called Frankford Slasher always stalked and later killed victims. Additionally, one specific intersection at Hawthorne and Bridge was listed as number six in the top recreational drug corners nationwide.

Frankford was historically separated into East Frankford and Frankford, along with the entire Frankford Avenue neighborhood. The separation split Caucasians on the west and African Americans on the east. United now, this is a diverse neighborhood with different ethnic groups.

Like most places in America with different ethnic groups, there is so much racial tension in Frankford. For that reason, you may not want to live in this neighborhood, which has poor schools, leading to a graduation rate of about 70% and limited amenities for people looking for tons of parks, restaurants, and entertainment.

8. Elmwood

Elmwood, often referred to as Elmwood Park, sits in the southwestern part of this city, enjoying proximity to the airport. This neighborhood is bound to the East by the Schuylkill River and to the North by Mt. Moriah Cemetery.

Elmwood has a population of 15,688 and is mostly dominated by Poles and Irish Americans. Villages in Elmwood sprang up after the establishment of Catholic parishes in the 20th century, which continues to shape the overall culture of the area.

Finding employment in Elmwood is a hard undertaking. This neighborhood suffers an unemployment rate of 10.6%. People who are lucky to be employed struggle with bills since the median income is estimated to be $36,392.

The concerns about crime and weak schools are attributed to weighing down this neighborhood. There are 6,448 crimes in every 100,000 inhabitants, which is more than 200% higher than the PA average. Even with its dark side, there are things to enjoy in the neighborhood. You will like the hopping nightlife and parks, among other activities, but you’ll have to be careful if you choose to stop by.

7. Haddington- Carroll Park

Haddington- Carroll Park is a west Philadelphia neighborhood bounded by Lansdowne Avenue and West Girard Avenue on the North and South. You will see banners on the streets reading, “Carroll Park- Where neighbors become friends,” but if you’re looking for brotherly love, Haddington-Carroll Park may not be your top choice.

This neighborhood has an estimated population of 35,068, and most of the residents are African Americans in the working class. The area faces very serious economic problems, with the lack of well-paying jobs making people lead miserable lives and causing them to be unable to overcome racial and economic hardships.

The unemployment rate in Haddington is 8.9%, with employed people taking home a median income of $28,706. Carroll Park finds its spot in the list of worst neighborhoods of Philadelphia not just for its poverty but also because of its crime. Statistics show that in every 100,000 persons, 4,738 crimes will be committed. Violent crime is also higher than the national average.

Due to the lack of housing markets, it is easy to afford homes in this neighborhood. The median home value here stands at $68,396, which makes this neighborhood a popular destination for people looking for affordable homes. Despite its bad reputation, there are several amenities for lovers of nature in Haddington-Carrol Park.

6. Harrowgate

This neighborhood is bounded to the North by Kensington and to the West by Port Richmond. People refer to this part of the town as “North Philly.” This neighborhood is an unknown, poor, and blighted location largely populated by Puerto Ricans. The socioeconomic struggles of this area make it hard for Harrowgate to get ahead and repair its issues. Although home to less than 8,000 people, Harrowgate has huge problems.

One teenager was caught in a crossfire after 30 shots dominated this neighborhood. The teenager was severely hit and almost died. Similar incidents have followed in the months since. These types of violent crimes are all too common in this area, and fatal shootings harm the neighborhood.

The bad condition of this neighborhood can be explained by the fact that painkillers are part of this neighborhood, leading to addiction and illegal drug use. Pharmacies in the neighborhood received 26 million pain pills in 7 years, which caused immense devastation for many families.

Harrowgate has an unemployment rate of 13.6%, and people who are lucky to be employed take home poor wages. The median income in this neighborhood stands at $23,871. When it comes to crime, there will be 1701 crimes for every 100,000 inhabitants.

5. Allegheny West

This neighborhood sits way up on the Northern end of town and is the third most violent place in Philadelphia.. Like most Northern Philadelphia locations, Allegheny West is a disadvantaged African-American community that struggles to overcome racial disparities.

Post-industrial depreciation and disinvestment have contributed to the harm experienced in this neighborhood. The neighborhood experienced the most notable population reduction between 1990 and 2000.

You will easily notice many unused industrial sites like the ones used to construct the commuter rail trains. According to Area Vibes, these sites have been repurposed for the production of films. But the average household income is a mere $25,196, making this area one of the poorest in Philly. You, however, wouldn’t want to settle in such an area due to its high crime rate, poor housing, and struggling schools.

For every 1000,000 inhabitants of the neighborhood, 10,439 crimes occur. The unemployment rate here is also high at 7.9%, so the struggles people in this area face are widespread and occur on many levels.

4. Fairhill

With a population of 4,443, Fairhill is small but has significant issues. This region is famous for its unending rows of houses, with only 20% of residents being homeowners. Fairhill serves as the home for Philadelphia’s Hispanic community and Philadelphia Badlands.

The neighborhood is, however, known for crimes, poverty, and drug use which make it an unsuitable neighborhood to visit or live in. The intersection at Indiana Avenue and 3rd Street has been listed as number two on the list of the most dangerous drug corners in the city.

People who are lucky to find employment still struggle to pay bills. Their average income proves that residents are far below the poverty line. The median household income is about $18k annually. It is even worse to find out that 61% of the residents are below the poverty line, five times more than the national average.

3. Strawberry Mansion

From the name of this neighborhood, you could be easily lured to believe that this is a good neighborhood, but it is not. According to Original News Break, the neighborhood carries a bad reputation as one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Philadelphia.

The neighborhood is home to one of the most notorious schools in the U.S. Strawberry Mansion High was so bad that it ended up being profiled by ABC news. At the school, there were more than one hundred security cameras, along with metal detectors on each door. Teachers were under attack, and riots erupted during lunch. There were only 710 kids attending that served 2100, which explains the dire situation the school faced. The school has tried to improve itself but still continues to fight its lingering notoriety.

The neighborhood, for better or for worse, is experiencing some changes, with its south and west sides being gentrified. Currently, home prices stand at $48,000, which is low, bearing in mind that some of the wealthiest people in Philadelphia once resided here.

Employed people registered an average annual income of $31,085, while the unemployment rate stands at 8.6%. There are 1944 crimes in every 100k inhabitants of this neighborhood. There’s hope that Strawberry Mansion will someday reach its potential and become a place that isn’t riddled by poverty and tumult.

2. Hunting Park

Another neighborhood in Philadelphia that you will want to avoid is Hunting Park. The neighborhood is popular for its gang activity. Much of the crime in this neighborhood comes from the local neighborhood street gangs.

The drug trade has also contributed largely to the rising crime rate in the area. It is also worth noting that more organized gangs operate in the location. Some of these gangs include the Latin Kings and Black Mafia, not to mention the numerous motorcycle gangs.

One resident in North Philly once told Philadelphia Weekly that Hunting Park was the heart of the community. However, things turned upside down, and the locale worsened. There was an instance where a father was shot down as he drove his car through this neighborhood after he had won $10,000 in a local lottery. People followed him home.

Despite its tainted image, the location is rich in history with several historical structures. These include the Bayard Tailor School, K. McClure School, and Clara Barton School. While the area is not worth value, there are a lot of structural issues that make it more unsafe than most other areas in Philly.

1. Tioga-Nicetown

Even with its name being “nice,” this neighborhood is not nice. Tioga and Nicetown are two different communities in the Northern part of Philadelphia. The town has been consensually known as Nicetown. If you want to know what part of Philadelphia is worse, look no further.

This area has experienced a decline after World War II and has struggled to maintain itself without its industrial capital. White flight also contributed to the high number of abandoned buildings and burgeoning crime rates that resulted from economic problems.

When you research the name of a neighborhood on the internet only to get results such as crime, shooting, and the like, you can tell how bad such a place could be. Today, the area is predominantly African American with a prominent section of Hispanic people. Thus, it is home to some of the most economically and socially disenfranchised populations, only making it harder to overcome hardships. This area ranks poorly in housing, schools, employment, and crime. The violent crime rate is 732% higher than the national average, while the total crime rate is 417% higher.

A blip of hope was realized after gentrification boosted home prices to about $42,000, but gentrification also usually displays poorer people rather than solving their economic struggle. Even with gentrification attempts, the neighborhood didn’t make much progress. The economy would later crash when home prices went down to $22,000.

How to keep safe in Philadelphia

As much as Philadelphia has some dangerous neighborhoods, you will be extremely safe when you stay in safe neighborhoods. Most neighborhoods are vibrant and full of friendly, well-intentioned people. However, it is also safe to take caution when visiting a new place.

Some tips to keep yourself safe include:

  • Be extra cautious if you must go out at night. Most crime happens around midnight, but also be aware that the second most common time for crime to happen is at noon. But if you’re looking for the most dangerous block of time, it is usually between 4 and 7 p.m. based on studies of metropolitan areas.
  • Familiarize yourself with areas before you get there. You are more likely to be in danger when you are distracted and don’t stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Keep any bags or belongings in front of you. When your bag is to your side or behind you, it is easier for pickpockets and other malignant actors to get your belongings.
  • While you can certainly travel alone, many people feel more comfortable traveling with others, especially at night. Having other people with you can also prevent you from getting lost or overwhelmed by unknown areas or situations.
  • Motorists are advised to avoid the areas around City Hall since the traffic patterns are always altered.
  • The use of public transport is a great way to avoid having to deal with unruly traffic or having to walk long distances that can lead to dangerous situations. While public transit is quite safe, you should still always pay attention to your surroundings as situational awareness is always a must.
  • Given the proximity of Philadelphia to New Jersey and Camden, visitors might opt to stay in Camden. That is not a good idea because Camden is known for its high crime rate, so always do your research before planning a trip to make sure that a location that seems like a good option isn’t a dangerous option.
  • If something feels wrong, don’t ignore that feeling and pay closer attention to what’s going on around you if you feel like things aren’t right.
  • Write down emergency numbers in a notes app so that you always have it handy if something is to happen.

There’s no reason to get overly anxious about the dangers around you because chances are that you’ll stay safe, even in the worst neighborhoods in Philly. Of course, you never want to risk your safety, and it can give you peace of mind to take proper precautions when going to Philadelphia.

Finding Safety in the City

America is generally an amazing country with amazing people and beautiful cities. One of these cities is Philadelphia which is commonly referred to as the “Heart of America.” the place has several tourist attractions and a rich history. As one of the biggest cities in the United States, there’s no doubt that Philadelphia is beloved by many people and is a great place to call home.

Like in any other major city, it is always advisable to exercise caution and avoid hazardous neighborhoods. In the list above, we have listed some of the worst neighborhoods in Philadelphia that you should avoid or use extra caution when visiting them.

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Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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