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Nothing will set back the resurgence of America’s 24-hour cities more than rising violent crime.  Over the past 15 years, a strong national economy coupled with a dip in the late teen/young adult population and new policing methods tamped down on murders and robberies in many major cities. In particular New York transformed its menacing 1980s “Death Wish” reputation (“you don’t want to go out at night or ride the subways”) into a paragon of safe not mean streets.  Not coincidentally lowered crime rates has facilitated the ongoing “move back in” resulting in ever more vibrant urban scenes in Chicago, Washington  DC, Seattle, and even downtown LA and Atlanta.

Will the deepening recession and rising unemployment kick crime rates back into gear reversing recent urban gains? I raised that concern to a group of Chicago real estate leaders yesterday in an Emerging Trends briefing. I suggested the recent murders of Jennifer Hudson’s family members had brought most unwelcome national headlines about Chicago crime and earlier in the week, national newscasts were proclaiming the Windy City as the nation’s “murder capital,” not exactly the stuff of Chamber of Commerce promotions. And I suggested local civic and business leaders should be getting concerned. In fact, it’s been years since I heard news reports touting U.S. murder capitals (Detroit, Miami and DC all held the title at one time or another back in the mayhem filled 1980s and early 90s). 

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