Urban Dynamics Blog

Yes! There’s a lot of crime in downtown Minneapolis

By Matt Johnson

2016-11-18-1Recently, I analyzed crime patterns from three distinct parts of Minneapolis: the 3rd, 5th, and 13th Wards. Why did I? The data in my research led me to these different parts of the city.

The patterns in the crime data I observed provided me with some very interesting findings. In the case of the 5th Ward, I found that the Jordan neighborhood year after year had the highest number of reported crimes and the highest density of crimes on the city’s north side.

Moreover, Jordan contained the highest levels of unemployment, the lowest levels of education, and either highest levels of foreclosures and condemned and vacant buildings or next to the highest levels (see the map to the right for 2nd Quarter, 2016 data). In other words, these socio-economic factors were concentrated and overlapping each other.

Needless to say, it is a fairly unstable system, which is quite sensitive to market forces, thus its rough ride through the Great Recession.

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In contrast, I found the 13th Ward of Minneapolis to be the Mecca of system stability. With low unemployment, high levels of education, and little to no housing issues, the 13th Ward weathered the Great Recession with relative ease; and the main issue facing that part of town now is there are a lot of people who are converting, remodelling, or adding to their homes as the second map to the right indicates (this map is also from the 2nd Quarter of 2016).

2017-01-08As the reader can see, there is an opposite concentration than what is currently happening in the 5th Ward and other parts of North Minneapolis. This type of activity along with some additional data analysis illustrates a strong and stable system where the economic, cultural, and political systems are interacting quite nicely with each other.

Remember, urban systems are multi-variable so there are many reasons why a system would be stable in the case of the 13th Ward and unstable in the case of parts of the 5th Ward, specifically the Jordan neighborhood.

And finally, I found some rather interesting data on the 3rd Ward of Minneapolis which encompasses parts of downtown Minneapolis. That is, Downtown West, which is  a part of both the 3rd and 7th Wards, had the highest rates of crime and the highest density of crime in the City of Minneapolis.

Obviously this is quite a statement since the perception is North Minneapolis has the highest rates of crime. But really it is parts of North Minneapolis. Not all parts of North Minneapolis are created equal. And there’s a lot more than crime happening on the north side.

If we compare Downtown West to Jordan, we will find that in January of 2016, Jordan had 66 crimes per square mile, or 23 percent of the reported crimes in the 5th Ward; whereas, Downtown West had 241 crimes per square mile, or 62 percent of the reported crimes in the 3rd Ward (this last one was simplified to the 3rd Ward to make it more accessible to the reader).

And I’ll leave the reader with this last little fact. The Minneapolis City Council resides in Downtown West.


Matt Johnson is a writer for The Systems Scientist and the Urban Dynamics blog; and is a mathematical scientist. He has also contributed to the Iowa State Daily and Our Black News.

You can connect with him directly in the comments section, and follow him on Twitter or on Facebook

You can also follow The Systems Scientist on Twitter or Facebook as well. 

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons




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