Even though it still ranks second on the most dangerous cities list, St. Louis is a lot safer than it used to be. Murders have been cut in half over the past two decades -- as have the numbers for other violent crimes.
Still, at about 35 murders per 100,000 residents in 2011, St. Louis claims the third highest homicide rate of any major city.
One reason St. Louis's crime rate is so high is that the city has not grown beyond its very constricted borders, according to criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri, St. Louis. Other cities have expanded outward by swallowing up safer nearby communities, which helps dilute the overall crime stats. Oklahoma City's reporting area, for example, is nearly 10 times the size of St. Louis'.
If the safer St. Louis suburbs were counted into its crime statistics, the overall crime rate for St. Louis would be much lower.
Source: CQ Presscompiled this index using data reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's"Crime in the United States 2011." *The crime index is a weighted average of six crime categories murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft. The national rate is 1 and any number higher than that indicates a higher than average incidence of crime. **List includes cities with populations of 250,000 or more.
By Les Christie@CNNMoney - Last updated January 23 2013 03:22 PM ET