10 Worst Neighborhoods In Philadelphia 2023: Beyond the Liberty Bell (2023)

Philadelphia, the vibrant heart of Pennsylvania, is not the state’s capital, but it unquestionably takes center stage when it comes to cultural diversity and vibrancy. This bustling metropolis, ranked as the fifth largest city in the United States and the second largest on the Eastern Seaboard, beautifully interweaves its diverse neighborhoods to form a rich tapestry of cultural experiences.

The neighborhoods in Philadelphia are brimming with world-class entertainment, culinary delights, and unique big-city charm, making it a veritable melting pot of cultural and community life.

However, like any other major city across the globe, Philadelphia has its own set of challenges. It’s a city of contrasts, where beautiful, family-friendly neighborhoods coexist with areas that are less fortunate. The City of Brotherly Love, as it’s affectionately known, has a crime rate that is a significant 55% above the national average, according to recent statistics.

Before we delve into the specifics of Philadelphia’s more challenging neighborhoods, let’s take a moment to understand the broader safety landscape of this diverse and dynamic city.

Is Philadelphia a Safe City?

The answer to this question can be complex, as safety often depends on various factors, including the specific areas of the city and the time of day. One way to gauge safety is by looking at the violent crime rate, which includes offenses such as robbery, murder, forcible rape, and non-negligent manslaughter. Property crimes, such as theft, forgery, and burglary, are also considered.

In Philadelphia, the violent crime rate is a staggering 139% higher than the national average, meaning that there’s a 1 in 25 chance of becoming a victim of violent crime. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. The silver lining is that the city’s crime rate has been decreasing by 3% annually.

If you’re planning a visit or considering a move to Philadelphia, don’t let these statistics deter you. The city is generally safe, especially if you stick to the more favorable neighborhoods. However, if your travels take you to less desirable areas, it’s important to stay vigilant and exercise caution.

Some of the neighborhoods that have a higher crime rate include Strawberry Mansion, Elmwood, Hunting Park, and Fairhill. Let’s take a closer look at these areas to better understand the challenges they face.

10 Cruddiest Hoods

NeighborhoodPopulationMedian Home ValueMedian Income
Hunting Park22,735$57,200$23,587
Strawberry Mansion19,690$71,938$31,085
Alleghany West18,676$48,477$25,196
Haddington-Carroll Park35,068$68,396$28,706
North Central21,880$87,376$25,297

1. Tioga-Nicetown

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Despite its name, Tioga-Nicetown is not a pleasant neighborhood. Tioga and Nicetown are two separate communities in the Northern part of Philadelphia, collectively known as Nicetown. This area is considered the worst part of Philadelphia.

During World War II, the neighborhood was in a dire state. Deindustrialization led to white flight, resulting in high poverty levels. A brief period of gentrification raised home prices to about $42,000, but they later dropped to $22,000.

Median Home Value: $58,569
Median Income: $24,935

2. Hunting Park

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Hunting Park is another neighborhood in Philadelphia known for its high crime rate, largely due to gang activity. The neighborhood is home to local street gangs and more organized gangs such as the Latin Kings and Black Mafia.

A resident once described Hunting Park as the heart of the community, but the situation has deteriorated over time. In one incident, a man was shot after winning $10,000 in a local lottery. Despite its challenges, the neighborhood has several historical structures, including the Bayard Tailor School, K. McClure School, and Clara Barton School.

Median Home Value: $57,200
Median Income: $23,587

3. Strawberry Mansion

Despite its appealing name, Strawberry Mansion is known as one of Philadelphia’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Until 2013, it was home to one of the most dangerous schools in the U.S., Strawberry Mansion High, which was profiled by ABC news due to its high level of violence.

However, the neighborhood is undergoing changes, with gentrification occurring in its south and west sides. Current home prices average $48,000. The average annual income for employed residents is $31,085, and the unemployment rate is 8.6%. The crime rate is 1944 per 100,000 residents.

Median Home Value: $71,938
Median Income: $31,085

4. Fairhill

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Fairhill, located to the West of Kensington along Glenwood Avenue, has a population of 27,298. The neighborhood is known for its long rows of houses, with only 20% of residents owning their homes. Fairhill is home to Philadelphia’s Hispanic community and the Philadelphia Badlands.

However, the neighborhood is notorious for crime, poverty, and drug use. One intersection at Indiana Avenue and 3rd Street is ranked as the second most dangerous drug corner in the city. The average family income is estimated to be $15k annually, and 61% of residents live below the poverty line, five times the national average.

Median Home Value: $51,578
Median Income: $19,698

5. Alleghany West

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Located at the Northern end of the city, Alleghany West is the third most violent neighborhood in Philadelphia. It’s primarily an underprivileged African American community.

The neighborhood has suffered from post-industrial decline and disinvestment, leading to a significant population decrease between 1990 and 2000. Many former industrial sites have been repurposed for film production.

The area has low home prices, averaging $26,000, but its high crime rate of 2458 per 100,000 residents makes it less desirable. The unemployment rate is 7.9%, and the median income is $25,196.

Median Home Value: $48,477
Median Income: $25,196

6. Harrowgate

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Harrowgate is located to the North of Kensington and to the West of Port Richmond. This area is often referred to as “North Philly.” Clue Luster describes it as a poor, blighted area predominantly inhabited by Puerto Ricans.

The neighborhood recently made headlines when a teenager was caught in a crossfire during a shooting incident. The area is also known for its high consumption of painkillers, with local pharmacies receiving 26 million pain pills over seven years.

Harrowgate has a population of 17,456, with an unemployment rate of 13.6% and a median income of $23,871. The crime rate is 1701 per 100,000 residents.

Median Home Value: $48,963
Median Income: $23,871

7. Haddington-Carroll Park

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Haddington is a west Philadelphia neighborhood bounded by Lansdowne Avenue and West Girard Avenue. The neighborhood’s motto is “Carroll Park- Where neighbors become friends.”

The neighborhood is home to approximately 35,068 residents, predominantly African American working-class individuals. The area faces significant economic challenges, with a lack of well-paying jobs.

The unemployment rate in Haddington is 8.9%, and the median income is $28,706. Carroll Park is considered one of the worst neighborhoods in Philadelphia, with a crime rate of 1588 per 100,000 residents. However, the area offers several amenities for nature lovers.

Median Home Value: $68,396
Median Income: $28,706

8. Elmwood

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Often referred to as Elmwood Park, this neighborhood is located in the southwestern part of the city, near the airport. It’s bordered by the Schuylkill River to the East and the Mt. Moriah Cemetery to the North.

Elmwood is home to 24,891 residents, primarily of Polish and Irish descent. The neighborhood developed around Catholic parishes established in the 20th century.

However, employment opportunities are scarce, with an unemployment rate of 8.0% and a median income of $36,524. Despite its challenges, including crime and poor schools, Elmwood offers a vibrant nightlife and parks.

Median Home Value: $90,648
Median Income: $36,424

9. Frankford

Frankford is situated on the Northeast side of Philadelphia, bordered by Oxford Circle, Frankford Creek, and other neighborhoods. It’s about six miles northeast of Center City. The neighborhood was notorious in the 80s due to a serial killer known as the Frankford Slasher.

Historically, Frankford was divided into East Frankford and Frankford, with Caucasians residing in the west and African Americans in the east. The neighborhood is diverse, with various ethnic groups. However, racial tension is high, making it a less desirable place to live. Frankford has a population of 39,792, with an average annual income of $33,217, and a crime rate of 1369 per 100,000 people.

Median Home Value: $94,038
Median Income: $33,217

10. North Central

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North Central, as the name suggests, is located in the northern central part of Philadelphia. It’s home to approximately 21,880 residents with an average yearly income of $25,296. This neighborhood is considered 3% safer than other cities in Pennsylvania.

Despite its reputation as one of Philadelphia’s less desirable neighborhoods, North Central has some redeeming qualities. It houses a portion of the Temple University campus and is located near Girard College.

However, the economic situation in the area is challenging. The median income is $25,296, and the unemployment rate stands at 7.9%.

Road Snacks reports that despite the presence of renowned educational institutions, local public schools still struggle. Housing issues and crime are prevalent in this neighborhood. North Central ranks 16th among the most dangerous neighborhoods in Philadelphia, with a 1 in 13 chance of becoming a victim of violent crime.

Median Home Value: $87,376
Median Income: $25,297

Horrific Crimes in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, has a dark side that is marked by a history of horrific crimes. Some of the most chilling incidents include:

The Philadelphia Poison Ring (1938): This was a group that orchestrated the poisoning of at least 70 people using arsenic. Several of the victims were poisoned by their own wives. The case was a shocking revelation of domestic treachery and cold-blooded murder.

Gary M. Heidnik (1986–1987): Heidnik was a notorious criminal who kidnapped, imprisoned, raped, and tortured six women, two of whom he murdered. His crimes were so gruesome that they served as an inspiration for the character of Buffalo Bill in the movie “The Silence of the Lambs.”

Kermit Gosnell (?–2010): Gosnell was an abortion doctor who was convicted of killing newborns. His clinic was described as a “house of horrors,” and his crimes sparked a nationwide debate about abortion clinics and their regulation.


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What Are Some Safety Tips for Visiting or Living in Philadelphia?

While Philadelphia is generally safe, it’s important to exercise common sense and take precautions, especially in neighborhoods known for higher crime rates. Here are some tips:

  • Stay in well-lit, populated areas, especially at night.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid displaying expensive items like jewelry or electronics.
  • Use trusted forms of public transportation or reputable ride-sharing services.
  • Lock your car and home doors, and don’t leave valuables visible in your vehicle.
  • If you’re moving to Philadelphia, research neighborhoods thoroughly to understand their safety profiles.

What Is Being Done to Improve Safety in Philadelphia?

Philadelphia’s law enforcement and city officials are continuously working on strategies to improve safety. This includes increased police presence in high-crime areas, community outreach programs, and initiatives to address root causes of crime like poverty and lack of education.

The city is also investing in improving infrastructure in less-developed neighborhoods.

What Are Some of The Safest Neighborhoods in Philadelphia?

Some of the safest neighborhoods in Philadelphia include Chestnut Hill, Mount Airy, Roxborough, and East Falls.

These neighborhoods have lower crime rates compared to the city average and are known for their strong community involvement, good schools, and family-friendly environments.

How Has the Crime Rate Changed Over Time?

Philadelphia’s crime rate has seen ups and downs over the years. While the city has struggled with high crime rates in the past, recent years have seen a decrease in both violent and property crimes. However, specific trends can vary year by year and neighborhood by neighborhood.

What Resources Are Available for Residents to Stay Informed About Crime in Philadelphia?

Residents can use online resources like the Philadelphia Police Department’s crime mapping tool to stay informed about crime in their neighborhoods.

Local news outlets also regularly report on crime. Community meetings and neighborhood watch groups can be valuable resources for staying informed and involved in local safety efforts.

Are There Any Initiatives to Help Improve the Challenged Neighborhoods?

Yes, there are several initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life in Philadelphia’s more challenged neighborhoods. These include economic development programs, affordable housing initiatives, educational improvement efforts, and community policing strategies.

Organizations like the Philadelphia Housing Authority and the Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity are actively working to address issues of poverty, unemployment, and crime in these areas.

Bottom Line

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Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, is a vibrant and culturally rich metropolis with a diverse range of neighborhoods. While it offers a wealth of opportunities and attractions, it also faces challenges, particularly in terms of crime rates in certain areas.

However, it’s important to remember that safety can vary greatly from one neighborhood to another, and many parts of Philadelphia are very safe. The city’s officials and law enforcement are continuously working on strategies to improve safety and quality of life for all residents.

Despite some of the challenges, Philadelphia’s unique charm, rich history, and cultural diversity make it a city worth exploring and understanding in all its complexity.

In an unfortunate incident that shook the city during the Independence Day celebration, five lives were lost in a shooting in Philadelphia’s darkest July 4.


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