Smaller isn't Always Safer: The Most Dangerous Small Cities in IA, WI, and IL

Image: Wallethub

There's been a slowing in the trend toward urbanization in the U.S.  As workers have become less physically tied to major metropolitan areas, many have found life in smaller cities more attractive.

Wallethub issued a report on the nation's small cities earlier this month evaluating life in more than 1300 U.S. communities.  Cities with populations between 25,000 and 100,000 were ranked according to scores in these areas; affordability, economic health, education & health, life quality, and safety.  When the numbers were all run, Sammamish, WA scored highest, while Pine Bluff, Arkansas took last place.  For a look at the methodology and the complete report, see: wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-small-cities.

When it comes to city life, smaller doesn't always mean safer.  One of the biggest issues pulling Pine Bluff's score to the bottom was its overall safety score.  Only 10 cities had safety rankings worse than Pine Bluff.  Two small Virginia cities, Sterling, and Ashburn, tied for the top safety ratings.

Our part of the Midwest includes some small cities ranking toward both extremes in the study.  Here's a look at the least safe small cities in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

The Most Dangerous Small Cities in IOWA

#3) Mason City

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Mason City's population: 26,931

Violent crime rate per 1000 residents: 6.54    Property crime rate per 1000 residents: 29.30

Cero Gordo County five-year average annual traffic fatality rate per 100,000 residents: 2.76

 

We've surely got trouble, right here in Mason City.  Perhaps "Professor" Hill's warnings should have been given more attention, as the home of the Iowa Traction Railway now finds itself Iowa's third-most dangerous small city.

 

#2) Burlington

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Burlington's population: 24,713

Violent crime rate per 1000 residents: 8.66    Property crime rate per 1000 residents: 32.05

Des Moines County five-year average annual traffic fatality rate per 100,000 residents: 5.65

 

Famed for its extremely crooked Snake Alley, the number two most dangerous small city in Iowa is Burlington.  Fun fact: The first place in what later became Iowa at which an American flag was raised is in Burlington. Having that distinction already established, this southeast Iowa town can now focus on lowering its crime rate.

 

#1) Council Bluffs

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Council Bluffs' population: 62,166

Violent crime rate per 1000 residents: 7.93    Property crime rate per 1000 residents: 58.70

Pottowattamie County five-year average annual traffic fatality rate per 100,000 residents: 11.56

 

Only 39 small cities in the entire country were rated less safe than Council Bluffs.  Famed as the starting point of The Mormon Trail, making tracks away from the largest city in southwest Iowa seems like a good idea.

The Most Dangerous Small Cities in WISCONSIN

#3) Racine

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Racine's population: 76,760

Violent crime rate per 1000 residents: 3.79    Property crime rate per 1000 residents:12.90

Racine County five-year average annual traffic fatality rate per 100,000 residents: 9.21

 

Just 22 miles from Milwaukee, the Lake Michigan town of Racine in southeast Wisconsin is ranked as the state's third most dangerous small city.  InSinkErator, the manufactures of the world's first garbage disposal is headquartered there.  Perhaps someone there will come up with a way to dispose of the city's safety problems.

 

#2) LaCrosse

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Lacrosse's population: 51,227

Violent crime rate per 1000 residents: 2.38   Property crime rate per 1000 residents: 37.36

LaCrosse County five-year average annual traffic fatality rate per 100,000 residents: 5.80

 

The western Wisconsin city of LaCrosse is at number two on the list.  Known for boating and home to more than 20-thousand college students, LaCrosse is the largest Wisconsin city on the Mississippi River.  C'mon, LaCrosse.  You're much too pretty to get such poor safety grades.

 

#1) Beloit

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Beloit's population: 36,926

Violent crime rate per 1000 residents: 4.17    Property crime rate per 1000 residents: 30.17

Rock County five-year average annual traffic fatality rate per 100,000 residents: 14.35

 

The birthplace of Korn Kurls is the least safe city in Wisconsin.  Beloit changed its name from New Albany in 1838 to be more Detroit-like.  So, mission accomplished?

The Most Dangerous Small Cities in ILLINOIS

 

#3) Carbondale

Image: Google

Carbondale's population: 25,083

Violent crime rate per 1000 residents: 8.57    Property crime rate per 1000 residents: 40.70

Jackson County five-year average annual traffic fatality rate per 100,000 residents: 17.27

 

"Carbon" hasn't exactly been a sexy word in recent years, and the third-worst ranked city in Illinois has it proudly up front in its name.  Founded as a coal mining area, this college town is home to Southern Illinois University.  A professor there produced a documentary film about a 1970 Carbondale shootout called "778 Bullets."

 

#2) Kankakee

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Kankakee's population: 26,024

Violent crime rate per 1000 residents: 9.07   Property crime rate per 1000 residents: 33.55

Kankakee County five-year average annual traffic fatality rate per 100,000 residents: 13.57

 

Horror films The Unborn, and Child's Play were both filmed in part in this northeast Illinois city, so it seems that more than one filmmaker decided the vibe there was appropriately chilling.  Kankakee was declared the worst town in America in 1999, at this point though, at least one Illinois town ranks worse when it comes to safety.

 

#1) Danville

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Danville's population: 30,479

Violent crime rate per 1000 residents: 17.59   Property crime rate per 1000 residents:44.95

Vermilion County five-year average annual traffic fatality rate per 100,000 residents: 8.82.

 

You thought it would be East St. Louis, didn't you?  Danville received lower scores for safety than all but 15 small cities in the country.  This eastern Illinois city rich in Abraham Lincoln legal history is now a noted spot for legal cannabis sales in its location near the Indiana border.

 

There you have 'em, the most dangerous small cities in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois.  Let's hope the leaders in each is successful in making their homes more safe.

 

RELATED: The Very Worst Cities in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

Sources: Wallethub, Iowa DOT, Wisconsin DOT, Illinois DOT, neighborhoodscout.com

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