Monroe, LA: DenisTangneyJr/iStock
The most dangerous city in America isn’t Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles. It’s a medium-size city in Louisiana that rarely comes up on the national radar.
Monroe, LA, was ranked the most dangerous U.S. city of 2018, according to a recent report from community search engine and data provider NeighborhoodScout. Monroe, the eighth-largest city in Louisiana, with a population of just more than 49,000 people, came in second in 2017.
NeighborhoodScout looked at the number of all violent crimes —including murder, rape, armed robbery, and aggravated assault—per 1,000 residents reported to the FBI to come up with its rankings. Only cities with 25,000 or more residents were included. The crime data used were from 2016, and were released in late 2017.
“A lot of people in Middle America think that they’re cozy and safe in the middle of the country far away from the big, evil cities on the East and West coasts,” says Andrew Schiller, CEO and founder of NeighborhoodScout. But "big cities that are doing very well economically and have become more and more expensive, like New York, Los Angeles, and Boston, aren’t on the [most dangerous] list."
Monroe, which served as the headquarters of Delta Airlines from 1925 until 1941, when the airline moved to Atlanta, has been losing residents for years. There aren’t many big employers, and the nearest big cities are about 100 miles away. Many residents live in poverty, as the median income of locals was just $28,681 from 2012 to 2016, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
"People are leaving," Schiller says of the city. "There is no big business and economic hub that would draw a lot of talent to that place [or] lots of high-wage jobs that would push up the values of real estate.”
However, there are a few bright spots, particularly for home buyers on a tight budget. The median home list price in the small city was just $174,000, according to realtor.com® data. That’s about $100,000 less than the national median.
It’s also home to the University of Louisiana at Monroe and the Louisiana Delta Community College. Cultural highlights include the 80-acre Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo and the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum.
Following Monroe, the rest of the top 10 most dangerous cities were Bessemer, AL; East St. Louis, IL; Camden, NJ; Detroit; St. Louis; Wilmington, DE; Alexandria, LA; Memphis, TN; and West Memphis, AR. (Chicago came in 55th, and New York and Los Angeles don’t make the list at all.)
On the other end of the spectrum were the safest U.S. cities rankings released last month. The Northeast dominated the list.
The top 10 were Ridgefield, CT; Bergenfield, NJ; Franklin, MA; Lexington, MA; Shrewsbury, MA; Zionsville, IN; Buffalo Grove, IL; Weston, FL; Lake in the Hills, IL; and Billerica, MA.
The median home list price in Ridgefield, about an hour and a half north of New York City, was $240,000, according to realtor.com data. That’s still under the national median of $274,900.