Chicago's online crime tracker
September 29, 2000 12:24 AM   Subscribe

Chicago's online crime tracker allows you to see a map showing all reported crime within a 2 week span for any intersection in the city. Type in Grand & Dearborn and set it for 1/2 mile to see the truly astounding amount of crime that happens in River North. No wonder I eat at my desk.
posted by thirteen (12 comments total)
"No wonder I eat at my desk"
Ahh, don't let it get to you -- most crime is no big deal, and it's all pretty mundane stuff. In fact, I think a certain level of crime is therapeutic for a city -- it keeps things slightly on edge, and frankly kicks people down a notch or two. Every ecosystem needs predators and scavengers.

I say this because one of the best things that ever happened to me was when I got stabbed. It did two things for me:

First, it burned the fear out of me. I'm not especially afraid of dying any more, and frankly I have things in a better perspective nowadays. Lying on the sidewalk wondering if you're gonna die makes you really think about how much that money is worth to you.

Second, it tore my ego into little tiny pieces. Everybody walks around thinking that they're so damn important -- I used to. Then I spent a while looking at my growing pool of blood, trying to figure out if those sirens were getting closer, or just passing by. Wondering if anyone has called the police at all. Things like that put you in your place, and make you realize that in fact you don't matter, nobody really cares much, and you shouldn't go around like you're a big deal, because you're not.

Hmm. This has turned out longer than I figured. The upshot is this: don't worry about it (worrying won't do any good). Things happen. People die. Cars get stolen. Oh well.
posted by aramaic at 7:24 AM on September 29, 2000

Can I have your autograph? No, I mean really.

I've been a small voice out of the many people trying to explain to plain folks for years that crime is useful, that dirt can be good, that fear and anger and hate have their uses, that creativity and genius and energy come from friction, strife, violence.

Most of my thoughts on this subject come from reflecting on the supposed "clean up" of Time Square. It's hard to explain to people that while their perception of the area as safer is based upon valid visual evidence (new stores, clean buildings, pretty lights, more people), the actual potential for crime has changed far less.

Thus, the difference between perceived risk and actual risk is now far greater than, say, 20 years ago. Because a safe environment is one in which perceived risk and actual risk are the same (leading to awareness and appropriate precautions), people may be less safe in Times Square now than they were 20 years ago.

One way to be truly safe is to reduce both perceived and actual risk, but in many cases this is not happening, largely because we tend to judge our environment incorrectly. An example: most people would tell you that a rich neighborhood is safer than a poor one, while in fact, the density of people may be a better indicator of safety than wealth. If, in fact, Times Square is any safer, it's only because of the increase in the number of eyes on the street.

Anyway, I agree, aramaic. It's one reason why I like to travel: traveling recalibrates my sense of risk without having to be stabbed and lie in a pool of my own blood for a while, it smashes my ego, crumples my mental map and makes me think more about place and time rather than value and self. That, and the fact that every time I come back from a trip, I find myself more and more capable of living without things, but that's a discussion for another time.
posted by Mo Nickels at 8:40 AM on September 29, 2000

I've had three people attack me ("I'm amazed!" - Feminists ;). They were drunk so I gave as good as I got; but I got a broken leg. I don't worry too much about it, maybe even less now. No one knows what could knock you off or win you a million.

Anyway, the site. It's good, but I can't help but think of some birds eye view live crime-cam with little red dots intersecting with green dots then scampering away.

posted by holloway at 8:47 AM on September 29, 2000

I really like the "Deceptive Practices" triangle. I'd love to be arrested for Deceptive Practices.
posted by Doug at 8:48 AM on September 29, 2000

I really eat at my desk because I am cheap and never have the time to get away.
Interesting perspectives on crime, myself I would rather see a man fall over dead than walk away with a penny that I did not willingly give him. I think I'd rather be killed than give it up through force. My house was robbed last year, and I am still consumed by it to an extent. My apartments have been robbed in the past, but I never felt as rooted to a place before this, and I had never lost anything of personal value. A neighbhor up the street had been robbed a few weeks earlier by what are believed to be the same people. In that robbery they beat the homeowners dog to death with a bat. My dogs were unharmed, but the thought of those people walking around in my home makes me wanna kill. Since I have no idea what they look like, I always wonder if I am near them when I am in crowds.I would pay quite a bit to brake a bat over their heads. Lucky for me, I am pretty big and people seldom think of messing with me. Then this past winter, somebody stole my snowshovel off my front porch, and I was right back in the moment when I realized my house was broken into. They climbed my steps while I was home and walked away with my shovel, leaving a broken shovel in it's stead. It was snowing hard when I noticed and the tracks did not lead very far, but I wandered around for an hour without a coat looking for the jerk, (the VERY VERY lucky jerk). It is not mundane at all to me.
I'm not afraid to die, but I could certainly do without being stabbed. You guys should start a fight club. Don't get me wrong, I am fuzzy with interest about your new to me perspectives. I just don't think I can live them.
posted by thirteen at 9:56 AM on September 29, 2000

Yes, Times Square was MUCH better when 42nd street was awash in needles, phlegm and syphilitic ejaculate. I remember the good old days when every theater was either closed or running porn . . . nowadays, you can walk the street at midnight, look up at the new theaters, look out at the milling crowds and wonder: where did we go wrong? How did it turn out so bad? Will someone please take my wallet just for old times' sake?

It was the "certain level of crime" that drove me out of the East Coast - the constant, petty crap that made a simple trip to the grocery store a trial. After a while, yellow police-scene tape, impromptu memorials, drunks heaving in the alley, drug addicts leaving needles in the playground, people stealing anything that's not nailed down and chained to a rottweiler - it tends to lose its romance, eventually.

But I do miss the food.
posted by lileks at 11:44 AM on September 29, 2000

Yeah, if you're in it for the romance.

I'm not interested in crime, etc., for the romance. I'm interested in it because it's so very human. The have-a-nice-day rainbows-puppies-bunnies-unicorns environment people are trying to create is an avoidance mechanism. It's artfully constructed to avoid paying attention to the realities of the word. It's a rejection of any sort of unmediated contact with fellow human beings. It's a rejection of alternate modes of thinking, it's a rejection of self-appraisal, it's a rejection of self-challenging.

I do have a fantasy of leaving the city and taking a small house in the country with a bit of garden and woods to walk in and a fishing stream nearby. But a key part of that fantasy involves meeting my neighbors in their homes, in the fields, at the fishing derby, at the Saturday auctions, where have you, without the artificial constructions of neon-lit commerce serving as a middleman. My conversations with them, like those with the former tenants of Times Square, will revolve around more than the tourist's outrage at the high price of Hard Rock Cafe hamburgers.

Your image of the old Times Square doesn't jibe with mine. Mine includes artists living and working in cheap lofts. It includes diners and touts and immigrants and working class men and women looking to get a leg up, working the second and third job. Mine includes case studies for lives gone wrong, people with lessons learned and to be shared, people for whom living, just living--not possessing, having, buying, shopping, clubbing--people for whom merely living was the single greatest priority. Mine includes all of the facilitators for the drugs and prostitution who came in from other, supposedly safe, neighborhoods.

These people were far more interesting and real to me than the fluffy and doughy tourists now in the Square, people who are so separated from reality that their idea of tourism is to go shopping. Commerce is boring and lifeless and inhuman.

We get so comfy in our insulated worlds we suffer all the more when our artifice crumbles.
posted by Mo Nickels at 12:20 PM on September 29, 2000

Umm, I mean clubbing as in going to the clubs, not beating somebody about the neck and head.
posted by Mo Nickels at 12:23 PM on September 29, 2000

Think of all the crime that goes unreported in River North - we are pretty darn close to the projects (diminished as they are).

posted by aladfar at 12:47 PM on September 29, 2000

Ya know, while not a bad thing, Mo, your vision sounds pretty romantic, too.
There's a new train on one of the lines here in NY, and it's all shiny and new and the speakers work. And people were complaining that it wasn't "new york" enough. Well, it always seems that people who don't LIVE around Times Square want it to be dangerous. People who don't take that subway line (wish i remembered which) want it to be run down and crappy. Cause they can visit these areas for local color, and go back to their nice homes. That's my thought.
posted by Doug at 1:52 PM on September 29, 2000

I agree that the pre-renovation Times Square was home to an interesting demiworld; I'd rather have a drink at Hojos than patronize those ghastly tourist-trap restaurants. But 42nd street was a hellhole, and it was falling apart. The Candler bldg. was a firetrap; the New Amsterdam theater was in ruins. No longer. And as much as Disney makes me grind my teeth, they did pay for the renovation, and New York is no longer in danger of losing large chunks of its history.

Men who come looking for prostitutes are more interesting than tourists? In one sense, sure - screwed-up people, desperate people, people with um, unpopular needs are always more interesting than people who play nice. (See also, "Paradise Lost.") But does making a neighborhood unsafe for johns really equate with imposing a "have-a-nice-day rainbows-puppies-bunnies-unicorns environment"?
posted by lileks at 2:27 PM on September 29, 2000

Doug: "There's a new train on one of the lines here in NY, and it's all shiny and new and the speakers work. And people were complaining that it wasn't "new york" enough."

I love those new trains. I was kinda sad that I did not get to beta test the new trains (either last year, or in 1998) when they only ran on the 1/9 and the A lines. People complained that the ones running on the A line (the wider ones) had fewer seats than more recent cars running on the F line.

Now that the new cars are also running on the Lexington Avenue 6 line, I get to ride them more often. They are just so neat. Really brightly lit. The sound system works. Instead of the conductor speaking into the microphone, these cars have pre taped voices calling out the station names. The cars also have LCD indicators - blinking lights to indicate which station is next. (These features have been available to subway riders in Seul, London, Paris and Calcutta for a while now.)

Sorry to go off topic.

Speaking of subways, police and crime, I have a police station inside my subway stop. Some how it gives me a sense of security when I come home late.

BTW, if they ever made a map of crimes in NYC, they should also include a "shot by cops" indicator, so that you will know where you might run the risk of getting shot at by the men in blue.

posted by tamim at 3:59 AM on September 30, 2000

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