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 Is St Louis Really Dangerous? The Metro Area Rankings
By: Darin "Sid" Cameron, CRS
Wed, Nov 1st, 2006 4:32 pm

Over the past two days we've been analyzing the report which the Associated Press used to name St Louis the most dangerous city in the U.S. One flaw in the report is it doesn't look at statistics for all of St. Louis; it only looks at the 12% of the region that lives within the City of St. Louis.  Today we're going to look at the whole region's statistics.

The Metropolitan Rankings

Looking at Morgan Quitno’s "Most Dangerous Metropolitan Areas” List, and you’ll see that the Detroit Area jumps from the number two spot (on the city list) to number one (with a score of 157.39). Memphis, number 13 on the city list, is number two on the MSA list (with a score of 125.03). Areas famous for their high crime that were missing from the city ranking show up in the MSA ranking- such as Las Vegas (4), Miami-Dade County (11) and Oakland (19).

But the most noticeable change is that of St. Louis. Not only is St Louis no longer number one, it’s noticeably absent from the Top 25. How safe is the St. Louis Metropolitan area? It doesn’t even make the Top 100 list of most dangerous areas!

So where does the company that ranks St. Louis City the “Most Dangerous City in America” actually rank the St Louis Metropolitan Area? St. Louis is 129th on a list of 344 cities with a score of 5.24.

For that matter, the St. Louis Metro isn’t even the most dangerous area in Missouri! Kansas City, MO/KS at number 40 has a higher “danger” score at 37.38. These statistics are validated by another Morgan Quitno report- The Most Dangerous States. In that report, Illinois and Missouri rank number 19 and 20 respectively with Missouri’s score actually BELOW the national average.

So what does this all mean?

Probably the most noticeable thing that one could take out of these two reports is that the statistics of the whole metropolitan area don't mirror that of the small area that is the core of the city. This is not the case in other cities where crime either extends into the whole metro area (like Detroit and Memphis), or is actually higher in the metro then in the core of the city (like Las Vegas, Miami or Phoenix). Why? A quick history lesson on St. Louis will produce an answer.

St Louis History 101

In the 1800’s, the City of St. Louis was a very prosperous town- by some accounts it was the richest city in America. In the 1870’s, many of the small farming towns located in the rural areas of St. Louis County wanted equal political standings with St. Louis City in the county government as well as county tax revenue (generated from the city) to pave mud roads and bring modern conveniences to their towns.

St. Louis’ politicians, however, wanted nothing to do with these small towns- viewing them as leaches. To keep city tax revenue from supporting the rural county, the City ultimately sued the state in 1876 for the right to secede from St. Louis County and become an independent city.

Unfortunately, this decision proved to be short-sighted for St. Louis City. In seceding, the city had its geographical boundaries set with the county- prohibiting St. Louis City from growing past the late 19th Century. The advent of the automobile, Highway 40 and later the Interstate Highways quickly moved the population and the jobs out of St Louis City and into the booming suburbs. From the 1950’s until just the past few years St. Louis has been a city with population decline- even while the counties surrounding it were booming. Population in the city dwindled from 856,000 (1950) to 348,000 (2000). Only in the past two years has the city seen its population start to grow again.

Unlike other urban cities that went into decline in the 1960’s and 1970’s, St. Louis was unable to rely on county tax revenue to pull tax dollars out of the suburbs and into the city to rebuild the crumbling infrastructure- all because St. Louis City isn’t in the county!

As a result, the revitalization other American inner cities started to see in the 1990’s didn’t really take root in St. Louis until this decade.

Tomorrow, the good news...

[ Next Article: Is St Louis Really Dangerous? The Good News ]
[ Previous Article: Is St Louis Really Dangerous? Understanding the Report ]


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Darin 'Sid' Cameron, CRS

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Darin "Sid" Cameron spent 15 years working in the technology industry which in 1998 relocated him to St. Louis. In 2004 he took over web development tasks for Kimberly's real estate team and later became the full-time Marketing and Operations Director in 2005. In 2011 Sid launched two brokerages, The Realty Store, Inc. and Realty Referral Partners, Inc, while continuing to perform marketing and operations for Kimberly's team. Sid holds a real estate broker's license in Missouri, CRS certification and was the first CyberStar in the St. Louis area.
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