Evanston, IL areas to avoid for a female on foot with a fancy camera?
June 28, 2014 6:11 AM   Subscribe

I am doing a photography project in Evanston, IL next week. How safe is it for me to be walking around with my equipment, by myself, on weekdays? Also, how's public transportation there?

I am staying east of Centennial Park/south of Northwestern because that's the only place I could find hotels. Is that area safe?

If not, what's the best alternative? I can try to get an airbnb elsewhere.

(By "walking around with my equipment" I mean carrying a non-concealed professional camera and maybe a camera bag.)

Also, any tips with regards to public transportation? Is it reliable, or should I plan to ride taxis?
posted by Opal to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total)
Evanston is pretty safe, especially near the college. I wouldn't worry. Public transit is good, but it might not be going where you want to go at the time you want to go. Google maps will give you an accurate route on public transit if you put in the start and end addresses so you can use that to gauge if it's going to work for you.
posted by bleep at 6:35 AM on June 28, 2014

You should be fine where you are staying and along the lakefront is as safe as any area in a close-in suburb. There should be lots of people around because you aren't far from downtown Evanston where there are of restaurants, shops, etc. There will be students, shoppers, and those who work there out and about so, unless you are out late at night, there will be plenty of people around. It's a vibrant downtown for a suburb and there are beautiful old homes along the lakefront and around NU.

In Evanston there is an area west of about Dodge that isn't a good area to walk around but it's at least a mile or 2 west of where you are going to be.

Evanston is served by the EL (light rail) from downtown, the Metra (train) and buses. It's very walkable too so you won't have a problem getting around.
posted by Flacka at 6:38 AM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

(I should have said, west of the park)

My main commitment is the parade on the 4th, at Central Street. I did notice a subway line straight from the hotel area to Central St—sounds like that's a good alternative?
posted by Opal at 6:44 AM on June 28, 2014

That part of Evanston is pretty safe and quite gentrified. Joy Yee's and Kafein are popular institutions among the students, and there are plenty of them out and about.
posted by ignignokt at 6:44 AM on June 28, 2014

Exercise common sense, but you're really not going to accidentally wander somewhere a bit dodgy without noticing from either the parade route or downtown.
posted by hoyland at 7:03 AM on June 28, 2014

It's not a subway - it's the El - above ground. That's a very safe neighborhood. Really the only iffy parts of Evanston are west and south of where you're going to be.
posted by leslies at 7:07 AM on June 28, 2014

I feel pretty safe in Evanston even at night. The purple line will take you around chicago. If you very a chance stop at the Baha'i Temple. It so beautiful and peaceful and very close off of the purple line.
I'd be more concerned of you are going into Chicago by taking the red line at night but even then I've done it hundreds of times without incident.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:23 AM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

So, Evanston is pretty much the polar opposite of the ghetto. Most of the areas you'll be visiting look like a million bucks. Between your hotel and Central, you might pass a street or two where you'll be like, "ooh, this is kind of sketchy...glad I'm not staying here."

Here's the thing though. When I was at NU for undergrad (some 8 years ago now), there was a huge rash of muggings just off campus, in the snazzy areas, mostly because people were stupid and walked around with their earbuds in, checking their [whatever we had in place of iPhones then], wearing their $200 sunglasses and $500 purses and shit. I never had any problems myself, but I felt more unsafe then and there than I have anyplace else in Chicago. And I live in Uptown, which any Chicagoan would agree is a far "worse" neighborhood.

Now, I'm not trying to scare you. I think they stepped up security considerably after that, and I haven't heard of any big crime problems since. I'm sure you'll be fine. But be smart. Be aware of your surroundings. Don't make yourself into an easy target by looking like a clueless tourist or a fancypants moneybags. And don't assume you're safe just because you're standing on a corner with an art gallery and an Italian restaurant and a Starbucks, or because some people on the internet told you so.
posted by gueneverey at 8:11 AM on June 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Will I be safe anywhere in the US? 98% of the time the answer is yes. So even any 'sketchy' streets in Evanston your risk is pretty low. But Evanston overall is safe.

If you want to look at stats, there are some here on the Tribune site.
posted by garlic at 9:08 AM on June 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Evanston's great, the part of town you'll be in is a mix of millionaires and Northwestern students (class of '91!), and you're going to be in a giant crowd on a holiday. Exercise normal amounts of caution, be aware of where your camera bag is in relationship to your body, make sure it's zipped up, and you'll be completely fine.

If you want to see how to get to/from places in Evanston on either the Purple Line or the various bus lines, go to goroo.com and plug in your start and end locations.
posted by tzikeh at 1:48 PM on June 28, 2014

I live 2 blocks from the parade route. From the purple line el stop (which is @ a very large and good hospital) to the beginning of the parade route you will be aok with any camera any time of day or night. A Starbucks is along the route and a home made ice cream parlor and many many local businesses as well. There may be 'bad people" nearby but this is a relatively crime free area.

My wife & I will be there along with my wife and my photo gear along with many thousands of people. Enjoy the day
posted by prk60091 at 8:28 AM on June 29, 2014

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