Los Angeles is one of the most tourist-friendly cities in the country, with beautiful views and something new to see just around every corner. However, like any big city, it does have areas that are a little less friendly. I should mention that LA’s reputation as a crime-ridden city has been improving by leaps and bounds in the past couple of decades, and the metropolis is safer than ever for both residents and tourists.
Still, it’s worth knowing where the sketchy areas are so you can stay safe for the entirety of your vacation. It’s more than crime you need to be on the look out for. Los Angeles can be dangerous for drivers as well. More than 55,000 car accidents occur each year and some intersections are more dangerous than others. According to The Accident Guys their Los Angeles page list these intersections as the top five:
- Devonshire Street and Reseda Blvd
- 31st Street & Vermont Avenue
- 29th Street & Hoover Street
- 43rd Place & Central Ave
- 31st Street & Figueroa Street
Outside of the roadways when you visit here are a few areas to be mindful of.
West Adams is one of the most historic areas in LA, with many gorgeous old homes and mansions. It has a history as a gathering place for artists and business people and a thriving, vibrant culture. It has a long history of gang violence that peaked in the 60s, and the effects of that are still seen today. West Adams has a violent crime rate of 475% higher than the national average, which is an incredible number. It’s probably a good idea to restrict yourself to visiting West Adams in the daytime, as nighttime muggings are not uncommon here.
Joeconsumer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
This is one of the more infamous neighborhoods in LA, and with good reason. Skid Row is most well known as being home to the largest stable population of homeless people in all of California, which can make it a sketchy place to hang out. I should note that the vast majority of homeless people you’ll meet in LA are just regular people who are down on their luck. Still, drugs and mental illness also run deep through the homeless community, and desperate people are liable to do desperate things. Be on the lookout for pickpockets if you’re taking public transportation here.
Theodore Hayes, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Compton is another particularly infamous neighborhood and has made its way into pop culture as a haven for LA’s gangs. Unlike most LA places, where violent crime peaked in the 90s, Compton continued to be one of the most dangerous and violent areas in the country until the mid-2000s. While crime is down from its peak a decade or so ago, thanks in part to the city’s current mayor, I still wouldn’t recommend going for many jaunts through the area, especially at night.
donielle from los angeles, usa, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
South Los Angeles
Formerly known as South Central LA, this neighborhood used to be the home base for some of LA’s most notorious street gangs, including the Bloods and the Crips. This violence peaked in the 80s and 90s and has been declining since, especially following reforms in the early 2000s. However, violent crime rates are still about 370% higher than the national average, so I’d be careful around here.
Despite the negative reputation it still carries, LA has become considerably safer in the past few decades and has seen a steep drop in overall crime rates. It’s always a good idea to stay alert and aware when you’re in an unfamiliar city, especially when walking around at night. If you’re anxious about crime and you want to stick to safe areas, then you may want to start by visiting the neighborhoods in or near the Hollywood hills, like Beverly Hills or Hollywood itself.