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10 Most Dangerous Cities In Massachusetts (2024 Update)


Note: This article’s statistics come from third-party sources and do not represent the opinions of this website.

Massachusetts is the seventh smallest state in the US, by land area, and one of the original 13 that formed the United States. Its capital is Boston, which is also its most populous city. The state features more than 350 cities with 26 of them having a population of more than 50,000.

Overall, the state has a population of nearly 7 million. In 2020, the last full of year FBI statistics, The Bay State saw 1,362 crimes reported per 100,000 population. The violent crime rate equates to 338 crimes per 100,000 people, which means that it is considered safer than the US as a whole.

Below, we have listed 10 of the most dangerous cities in Massachusetts for those cities with a population over 10,000. Read on for more information.

divider 4 The 10 Most Dangerous Cities in Massachusetts: A Quick Look

1. Fall River

The Hiker statue, Fall River, Massachusetts in 2017
The Hiker statue, Fall River, Massachusetts in 2017 (Image Credit: Kenneth C. Zirkel, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Population: 89,066
Violent crimes per 100,000: 772
Homicides: 2

Fall River is the 10th largest city in Massachusetts by population and the most dangerous city in the state, having had 2 homicides during 2020 and a violent crime rate of 772 per 100,000 people. It has a population of nearly 100,000 people. Fall River was once considered the leading textile manufacturing city in the US. It saw considerable growth through the 18th Century but primarily in the 19th Century.

In the 1870s, the city saw 22 new mills built and older mills expanded. The population grew from 12,000 to 20,000, and in 1876, it was second only to Manchester, England, for its print cloth production rates. Starting in the 1920s, however, many of the mills closed or merged, which was further compounded by the Great Depression of the 1930s. The whole city was essentially rebuilt in the 1960s when the Braga Bridge and Interstate 195 were built. Landmarks, historic buildings, and even the Old City Hall were knocked down or rebuilt.

2. Holyoke

Holyoke, MA - High Street 01
Holyoke, MA – High Street 01 (Image Credit: Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported)
Population: 40,178
Violent crimes per 100,000: 739
Homicides: 8

Holyoke is a relatively small city with a population of 40,000 but witnessed 8 homicides during 2020 and had a violent crime rate of 739 reported incidents per 100,000. Holyoke has traditionally been a mill town and was once responsible for producing 80% of the writing paper used in the country.

Its position on the Hadley Falls, and its subsequent establishment as a Dam city on the grid plan, means that it has also been home to paper, silk, and even alpaca wool mills. The city’s population has been in decline since reaching a peak of 60,000 in 1920, led by a decrease in mills during the latter stages of the 20th Century.

3. Springfield

Court Square, Springfield MA
Court Square, Springfield MA (Image Credit: John Phelan, Wikimedia Commons CC 3.0 Unported)
Population: 155,929
Violent crimes per 100,000: 732
Homicides: 18

Springfield is the third most populous city in the state, behind Boston and Worcester. Despite having fewer residents than Worcester, it saw 18 homicides in 2022 compared to just 10 in Worcester, and it had a violent crime rate of 732 incidents per 100,000 people.

The city was pivotal during the Civil War and is well-known for manufacturing the Springfield rifle. It is known as “The City Of Firsts,” “The City Of Homes,” and “Hoop City,” among numerous other unofficial nicknames. Along with Hartford, it is also known as The Knowledge Corridor and is home to 32 universities and colleges. The decommissioning of the Springfield Armory in 1969 led to sustained economic decline and the city became known, especially during the 1990s, for its crime and corruption. Although crime figures have fallen since then, as they have across the whole of the United States, high violent crime rates mean that it is considered the third most dangerous city in Massachusetts today.

4. Pittsfield

Downtown and Park Square, Pittsfield, Massachusetts
Downtown and Park Square, Pittsfield, Massachusetts (Image Credit: Protophobic, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Population: 42,268
Violent crimes per 100,000: 728
Homicides: 1

Pittsfield is the 32nd most populous city in Massachusetts, with a population of 42,268, and in 2020, it had a violent crime rate of 728 per 100,000 and saw one homicide during the year. Pittsfield was settled in 1752 almost as a spillover from Westfield, and during its early years, it was primarily seen as a mill town. In 1891, the Electric Manufacturing Company founder, William Stanley Jr, invented and developed the first electric transformer, and the success of the device led to the formation of General Electric.

Further success saw Pittsfield’s population grow to more than 50,000, but the local workforce was reduced from nearly 15,000 to less than 1,000 when the company moved its operations to different plants. As a result, the city’s population is now just over 42,000, and the development of life sciences and advanced manufacturing centers in the city is likely to improve the local economy, potentially reducing crime rates.

5. North Adams

Main Street North Adams
Main Street North Adams (Image Credit: Beyond My Ken, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)
Population: 12,800
Violent crimes per 100,000: 679
Homicides: 0

North Adams is a comparatively small city with 12,800 residents and is part of the Pittsfield Metropolitan Area. There were no homicides recorded in the city in 2020, but there was the equivalent of 679 violent crimes recorded per 100,000 residents. North Adams is best known for being home to the country’s largest contemporary art museum, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, and has become a hub of tourism and culture within the state.

Although initially a mill town, the establishment of the Sprague Electric Company in 1942 changed the city, and by the late 1960s, around a quarter of the city’s population was employed by Sprague. When the company closed its doors in 1985, it had a devastating effect on the local economy and led to considerable unemployment and economic depression. The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, or MASS MoCA) opened its doors in 1999 and, as well as undergoing several expansions, the museum has also led to additional galleries and museums springing up in the city, potentially changing its fortunes.

6. Brockton

Snow Fountain and Clock, Brockton MA
Snow Fountain and Clock, Brockton MA (Image Credit: John Phelan, Wikimedia Commons CC 3.0 Unported)
Population: 105,643
Violent crimes per 100,000: 671
Homicides: 4

Brockton is the 6th most populous city in Massachusetts and the 6th most dangerous according to violent crime rates. In 2020, there were four homicides and a violent crime rate equivalent to 671 incidents per 100,000 population. Brockton is known as the “City Of Champions” because of its successful school sports programs and also because it is the birthplace of Rocky Marciano and Marvin Hagler, the champion boxers.

The city is also known for being the second windiest city in the US. Settled in 1700, Brockton was first incorporated as a town in 1821 and then as a city in 1881. During the Civil War, the city was the country’s largest shoe producer, and it retained a healthy shoe and leather industry until the late 20th Century.

7. Webster

Town Hall, Webster MA
Town Hall, Webster MA (Image Credit: John Phelan, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported)
Population: 16,925
Violent crimes per 100,000: 644
Homicides: 0

Webster is roughly the same size as Southbridge in terms of population, and both cities saw no homicides during 2020. However, Webster has a much higher violent crime rate, with 644 offenses, including homicide, aggravated assault, rape, and robbery, committed for every 100,000 residents.

Industrialist Samuel Slater formed the town of Webster, which was named after statesman Daniel Webster. It is home to the largest lake in Massachusetts, commonly referred to as Webster Lake but properly known as Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, believed to be the longest place name in the US. It is generally accepted that approximately one-third of the city’s population is of Polish descent, and the oldest Polish-American Catholic church in New England, St. Joseph Basilica, is located in the city.

8. Southbridge

MA Route 198 southbound, Southbridge MA
MA Route 198 southbound, Southbridge MA (Image Credit: John Phelan, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported)
Population: 16,836
Violent crimes per 100,000: 552
Homicides: 0

Although Southbridge, with a population of over 16,000 people, did not endure any homicides during 2020, it did have a violent crime rate equivalent to 552 incidents per 100,000 population. Southbridge was once known as the “Eye Of The Commonwealth” because of the existence of the American Optical Company (AO) and the importance of the company’s manufacturing to the city’s economy.

At its peak, AO employed 6,000 people, and its employees even worked on the atomic bomb during World War II, earning them an exemption from the draft. By the 1960s, the city was thriving, but this ended in 1984 when AO shut down. As the city’s primary employer, the loss of AO led to considerable unemployment; high unemployment levels and low income are directly linked to high crime rates.

9. Chelsea

Chelsea City Hall - Chelsea, Massachusetts - DSC09227
Chelsea City Hall – Chelsea, Massachusetts – DSC09227 (Image Credit: Daderot, Wikimedia Commons CCO 1.0 Universal)
Population: 40,787
Violent crimes per 100,000: 521
Homicides: 2

Chelsea is located directly opposite Boston on the Mystic River and has a population of 40,000 people. It is a very densely populated city, with only Somerville having a higher population per square kilometer, in Massachusetts. The 2020 violent crime rate for Chelsea was 521 crimes per 100,000, and two homicides were reported during the period. The city of Chelsea has experienced a number of major disasters, including two great fires.

By 1920, the city had become a major center for shipbuilding. It was also home to several lumber works and metalworks, and the city was considered a social step up from Boston. By the time of the second major fire in 1973, the city had already started to wane, and by 1990, crime had increased considerably. In the 1990s, the city was placed in receivership, and although it has seen some economic and population growth since being returned to the people in 1995, crime rates are still among the worst in Massachusetts.

10. Worcester

Worcester City - Worcester, MA - DSC04090
Worcester City – Worcester, MA – DSC04090 (Image Credit: Daderot, Wikimedia Commons CCO 1.0 Universal)
Population: 206,158
Violent crimes per 100,000: 517
Homicides: 10

With a population of just over 200,000 people, Worcester is the state’s second-largest city and, in 2020, saw 517 violent crimes committed for every 100,000 people. This figure includes 10 homicides that were committed during the year. It is located centrally in the state and is known as the “Heart Of The Commonwealth” for its geographic position. Traditionally it was an industrial and textile center, chosen for its strong transport links via the Blackstone Canal and rail links.

Although the industrial center of the city disappeared during World War II, the city has undergone something of a rebirth and is now known for its higher education facilities as well as its medicine and biotechnology industries. Worcester includes eight colleges and universities, but its median household income is approximately $75,000, less than the state’s average household income of $81,000.

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What Is The Safest City In Massachusetts?

17 cities and towns in Massachusetts have been listed among the safest places in the US to live. Hopkinton, with a population of 18,758 and the state’s 105th largest city, is ranked as the state’s safest to live. It has a crime rate of just 609 per 100,000 residents and is in the top 1% of safest cities in the country.

How to Stay Safe in Massachusetts

Overall, Massachusetts is a generally safe state, but there are some cities and some areas where violent crime is more likely. Where possible, you should try to avoid these areas.

Other tips to stay safe include:
  • Don’t walk through parks and secluded areas alone, in the dark, and stick to public places.
  • Ensure that you keep your mobile phone and other valuables in your purse, bag, or pocket rather than in your hand.
  • Use theft-proof bags. These have hidden zippers and tamper-proof openings to make it very difficult to get in and steal your belongings.
  • Don’t leave your bag on the floor or under your seat when you’re in restaurants or on public transport.
  • Stay alert. Do your research and find out what you can about cities and neighborhoods before visiting them.

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Massachusetts is one of the safest states in the US with a violent crime rate that is lower than the country as a whole. However, some of the larger cities and towns still have high-crime areas, including the ten most violent Massachusetts cities listed above. Stay alert, do your research, and don’t advertise your expensive belongings when you’re out and about; this will help reduce the risk of falling victim to such crimes.

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Featured Image Credit: 12019, Pixabay


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