Should I take pepper spray with me to NYC?

I’ve never been, although I don’t plan on taking any late night unguided tours around the seedy parts of town, is pepper spray advisable? legal?


From my own visitation experience in recent years, I’d say no more and no less necessary than anywhere else. It’s a city, there’s crime, but it’s not like you see gangbangers raping old ladies on every streetcorner.

I know on my first trip, I felt comfortable enough to walk out on my own at 5am for a bagel and a little sunrise. Maybe I thought the freak foot-plus of snow was enough to scare away the junkies, just don’t know.

my current job is 20 yards from a bus stop that includes routes to bumtown and junkieville, being the large person that I am, I walk many of our younger waitresses out to their cars late at night (11 or 12)… but I dunno about NYC, I’ve never been… my brother’s been, but his assessment of threat is rather tenuous at best :slight_smile:

is it legal?

Nah, you’re not going to even come close to needing it. Don’t even bother with it.


New York is one of the safest large cities these days, and much of where you will likely go as a tourist is much safer than the City’s average crime rate.

As to whether it is legal, New York Penal Law sec. 265(14) provides for an exeption to weapons possession charges for:

Pepper spray? Pul-leez! First of all, it’s illegal here in NYC. Second of all, according to the FBI, NYC is the safest big city in America.

I quote:

“… Of the 210 cities reporting with populations greater than 100,000, New York City was ranked 194th, between Ann Arbor, Michigan and Orange, California. Of the nine cities with populations of more than one million reporting to the FBI, New York City had the lowest crime rate during the first 6 months of 2003 …”

Pepper spray? What on earth would you need pepper spray for??

Do people really think of New York as a place where it’s not safe to walk down the street?

I’m a young single female, and I routinely walk around Manhattan by myself fairly late at night, sans pepper spray. Use basic street sense, like staying in well-lit areas where there are other people around, and you should be fine. (Bonus points if you avoid looking like a tourist, ie you skip the visible maps and guidebooks, don’t wear your camera around your neck, and avoid gawking.) There are definitely neighborhoods where you don’t want to be alone at night, like the South Bronx or Bedford-Stuyvesant, but you probably won’t be going to those as a tourist.

mmmmmm…female walking around alone at night…where can I find this? :smiley:

thanks for the advice, folks… I’ve walked around extremely shady parts of tampa and st pete, which both rank worse than NYC according to some people

I’m bold enough to bike through Central Park every night. But I’m a badass freak :wink:

I don’t know about higher than 100th street, but I feel safer in Manhattan than at home in Brooklyn. There are lots of people in Manhattan. No one will rob you with all those people.

If you do not dress like a slut, then the rapists won’t pay attention.

Though if you are one of those paranoid (like me) people then no where is really safe. Bring the spray to make yourself feel better, you most likely will never have to use it.

so as long as I don’t plan to walk around DMX’s old neighborhood wearing gold chains at 3am alone reading a tourist guidebook, I should be a-ok…got it

Naw… from what I heard, those fancy restaurants have a mill on every table so you can get it freshly ground.

Leave your pepper spray at home.

But DO NOT come to Chicago without a Tommy gun.

Ditto. Young, single female. Walk around Manhattan (and even on Central Park North!) at all hours, without fear.

I concur based on my recent, albeit limited, experience. My wife, sister-in-law, and I spent a day in NYC, including part of the evening hours, and felt pretty safe. Admittedly, it was exclusively in Manhattan, and pretty much on the well-trafficked streets - we sort of bounced around from Penn Station to 5th Ave. to the Park to the Staten Island Ferry to Battery Park, then a quick hop to the Village for dinner, followed by trips to Grand Central Station, a walk through Times Square, and then back to Penn Station. However, my sister-in-law (who’s about 4’10") had just arrived and had her wheeled suitcase with her most of the time, and we consulted maps a couple of times, so we probably looked like reasonably vulnerable people.

One thing I was impressed with was how few homeless people and panhandlers there were hanging around Manhattan. In Chicago, they’re pretty prevalent, but in Manhattan, nary a one to be seen. Now, I admit that homelessness is a serious and complex issue, and that there are reports that the approach taken by Guiliani and continued by Bloomberg is heavy-handed and possibly unfair to people in serious economic straits. But one thing that contributes to a feeling of safety is not having a lot of vagrants about hustling for change. I felt very comfortable walking around Manhattan, which is something I cannot say about walking around downtown San Francisco last year, where there were large and aggressive colonies of homeless people all over downtown.

Your biggest danger is going to be from Security if you try and board a plane with that stuff.

I’ve lived in NY for 3 years and hardly anyone in my neighborhood has been murdered and left in a box, stabbed in my lobby, electrocuted by a manhole or held hostage in a bar by a maniac wielding a samurai sword.

If we really want to get to you, we’ll drink your pepper spray while we tear you limb from limb.

Hey, don’t forget that pepper spray is good for keeping the bears out of your campfire, too.
True story—I know a guy from ISRAEL who was afraid to go to New York. He actually tried to buy a bulletproof vest before his trip! He was afraid of all those crazy guys with guns in NY, unlike his nice safe home in the Middle East.

No reason to get scared just 'cause you’re far from home. NY is no different from any other big city. Just use simple common sense.

And order the corned beef at the Stage deli.