When Tyrone Wilson visited his cousins as a child in the South Side neighborhood of Bronzeville, he was not allowed to go outside by himself because the area was considered too dangerous.
Wilson, 44, said he moved back to Bronzeville five months ago — a place he once saw as “gang-infested” — to get back to his roots. Wilson, along with other residents, said Bronzeville is now a safe neighborhood. Once dominated by large low-income housing projects, the neigborhood offers a diverse housing stock that has brought in wealthier residents and safer streets. While some residents said they still take precautions when they go outside, especially at night, they also agreed these steps are just part of life in a big city.
A website, chicago.everyblock.com, compiles incident reports from the Chicago Police Department and has reported that Bronzeville has a low crime rate.
According to the site, Bronzeville reported 501 crimes between Jan. 19 through Feb. 18 for the area.
That number pales in comparison to Austin, a West Side neighborhood that had 1,321 crimes reported in the same 30-day period; the highest number of crimes in the city during that time.
Clara Lacy, a 30-year-old worker at a Bronzeville cafe called Munchies, said she has seen only smaller crimes like panhandling and people selling bootleg items in Bronzeville.
The biggest crimes she’s witnessed in Bronzeville are minor ones like fights between students. “The fights that break out are mostly from the kids after school,” she said.
For Lacy, the neighborhood is just as safe as every other area of Chicago. She said there is no such thing as a perfectly safe neighborhood, and crimes happen everywhere. She said she was happy that the biggest crimes around her workplace are merely high school kids fighting.
Jessica Pious, a 21-year-old student who attends Harold Washington College, has lived in the area for six years and has witnessed the fights break out in the afternoon.
Despite this, she has never been a victim of a crime during her time in Bronzeville.
But some residents say the area hasn’t improved. Maria Moore, who lives on 42nd Street in a building for seniors, moved in 23 years ago and said she doesn’t think the area is any safer than when she arrived.
“I’ve seen fights happen on the bus and shoplifters in Walgreens,” she said. “You have to be alert. I just try to be cautious.”
One resident’s thoughts about Bronzeville coincide with the data. Local resident Phillip Jackson, executive director of the community organization called Black Star Project, said the area is one of the safest in Chicago.
“The only problem in our area is the fights among high school students,” he said. “They don’t live in the area.They attend Dunbar High School or Phillips Academy and they fight on the corner of King Drive and 35th Street at 2:45 everyday.”
Jackson sees those fights as more of social issues, which are typically broken up by the police stationed nearby.
Tyrone Wilson said he’s happy to be back in the neighborhood. The old projects are gone and Wilson said he didn’t even recognize some of the newer additions when he moved back.
“ I see nothing negative about my neighborhood,” he said.