The two cities switched places from their 2011 rankings, when New York reported 515 homicides, compared to 431 in Chicago, according to official 2012 statistics released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier this week.
The total estimated violent crime was 386.9 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants, while the property crime rate was 2,859.2 offenses per 100,000 inhabitants. The FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program noted that the information was collected from statistical compilation of offense and arrest data shared by a total of 18,290 city, county, state, university and college, tribal, and federal agencies around the country.
In total, there were an estimated 1,214,462 violent crimes in the U.S. in 2012. Among the other notable statistics, there were an estimated 8,975,438 property crimes, which amounted to losses close to $15.5 billion.
"The FBI estimated that agencies nationwide made about 12.2 million arrests, excluding traffic violations, in 2012. The arrest rate for violent crime was 166.3 per 100,000 inhabitants, and the rate for property crime was 528.1 per 100,000 inhabitants," the press release continued.
The Washington Post and other publications made a list of the 15 U.S. cities in 2012, which reported more than 100 murders each. Following Chicago and New York, the other cities on the list are: Detroit (386), Philadelphia (331), Los Angeles (299), Baltimore (219), Houston (217), New Orleans (193), Dallas (154), Memphis (133), Oakland (126), Phoenix (124), St. Louis (113), Kansas City (105) and Indianapolis (101).
The FBI strongly cautioned against jumping to any conclusions based on such lists, however, and said that there are a number of factors to consider when analyzing crime statistics and their implications.
"Each year when Crime in the United States is published, some entities use the figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rough rankings provide no insight into the numerous variables that mold crime," the FBI report said.
"Consequently, they lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting communities and their residents. Valid assessments are possible only with careful study and analysis of the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction."
The excessive level of violence in Chicago has sparked talks over gun control, with politicians being urged to enact legislation that addresses the problem.
"While to date we've had significantly fewer shootings and significantly fewer murders this year, there's more work to be done and we won't rest until everyone in Chicago enjoys the same sense of safety," Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said in a statement in July, following a troublesome Fourth of July weekend of shootings that left 12 people dead and at least 60 wounded.
Chicago Gov. Pat Quinn added: "That ought to be an alarm bell to all of us that we need strong laws that protect the public safety, especially when it comes to guns. It's time to end the violence."