It’s Not Just Chicago: 12 Cities People Didn’t Expect To Have a Dark Historical Past

While Chicago is probably the most notorious city in America for its history of gang violence and organized crime, there are many other cities throughout the United States that have a surprisingly dark past.

From major metropolises to small towns, these places have had their share of violence and turbulence throughout the years. Individuals in an online community urge travelers to be aware of these cities and to proceed with caution when visiting them.

1. Fort Worth, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas city skyline from across the Trinity river
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Now a hub of passers-by of every kind, Fort Worth, according to one user, was a no-go-area for trapping dangers in the 1840s. At the time, a treaty was signed that no settler should walk past a municipal, now present-day Allington, without the president’s permission, a decree aimed at racially purging Forth Worth. Those who couldn’t keep to the rules were raided or, worse still, killed.

2. Oregon City, Oregon

A view of McLaughlin promenade & Oregon city OR.
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One user says although it is now known for its progressiveness and high quality of life, most people would be surprised to learn that Oregon was founded as a “whites-only” state.

A second user says their Filipino cousin’s husband had to decline a job in Oregon in the early 1990s because it wcas a white supremacist state that was dangerous for people of color.

3. Danville, California

Colorful trees lining up a road through Danville, Mt Diablo summit in the background, Contra Costa county, San Francisco bay area, California
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One user says they worked in Danville long ago, and everything seems sketchy about the place. He explained how one evening,  some subcontractors, seeing the carefree attitude of his team with locals, warned them to be careful because the city was known for its sexual pervasiveness and was the hub of the STD epidemic.

4. San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California
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Many users say San Francisco was always the ultimate hub of crime, with one person explaining how you couldn’t leave a change in the car as there’s a “Decent chance someone would smash your windows to get it.”

5. Aberdeen/Hoquiam, Washington

Aberdeen, Washington, USA - May 30th, 2023: Bridge over the Chehalis River in the downtown area
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In the words of a former resident, Aberdeen, and Hoquiam were historically known for Shanghaiing and had a serial killer bossing the street back in the day. If you are wondering what Shangaaing is, it means forcing someone to join a ship lacking a full crew by drugging them or using other malicious means.

6. Anchorage, Alaska

Downtown Anchorage Alaska
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A city notable for its violence; someone says no matter what part of Anchorage you find yourself in, you will always hear the sound of gunshots. This person recounts how his chained bike was mauled by thieves who carted away the seat and basket.

He also mourns the commonness of drugs on the street and how he finds homeless people lounging in his apartment’s laundry every time he wakes up in the morning.

7. Albuquerque, New Mexico

New Mexico
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We remember this city for its remarkable landscape, proliferation of drugs, and murder in the highly successful series Breaking Bad. According to some commenters on the thread, it turns out it’s historically known for such lethal crimes.

8. San Diego, California

San Diego
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Dubbed the shipping route for drugs and other illegal things, one individual says the current day fun-filled parts of San Diego used to have a very rough, unsavory past. Someone says Methamphetatime originated in San Diego; another adds that he’s not surprised it did.

9. Portland, Oregon

Man walking along the riverwalk in Portland city at autumn, Oregon, USA.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/haveseen

Portland was, in the distant past, according to a person who identifies as an indigene, a racially segregated city by law; so many black folks were mandated to live in the slum of Vanport until it got destroyed by a massive flood.

10. Little Rock, Arkansas

little rock arkansas
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Reminiscing the height of criminal indulgence in the 90s, a contributor says the current atmosphere in Little Rock contravenes its bloody past. A second thread participant says that crime in the 90s started skyrocketing when the state allowed several prisoners back into the fragile community without rehabilitation.

11. Newport, Rhode Island

Newport, Rhode Island
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Newport has been tagged as the gambling capital of the United States, “complete with crime, corruption, and the mob. It was a Sin City before Vegas.”

12. Detroit, Michigan

Aerial view of Detroit, MI downtown under evening sunlight.
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One final user remembers Detroit as the city where criminals dreaded other citizens more than the police. She explains that Detroit was historically a city of deadly force caused by the abundance of legal gun holders, which was about 20% higher than in other parts of the United States in the 1980s.

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