Chicago, Baltimore, Milwaukee and Memphis reach homicide rates not seen since the 1990s

A Wall Street Journal analysis of homicide data since 1985 for the 35 largest cities shows that four—Chicago, Baltimore, Milwaukee and Memphis, Tenn.—have in the past two years approached or exceeded the records set a quarter-century ago, when cities across the country were plagued by gang wars and a booming crack trade.

Twenty-seven of the country’s 35 largest cities saw per capita homicide rates rise since 2014, though most are still relatively low compared with 1990s levels, the data show. Meantime, New York and Los Angeles, the two biggest cities, are experiencing long-term drops in murders.

Murders in Chicago last year rose to their highest rate since 1996, with 27.8 homicides for every 100,000 residents, based on police and the latest census data. Memphis equaled its highest rate last year in a Federal Bureau of Investigation database that goes back to 1985, at 32 murders per 100,000 residents.