Credit: Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

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Washington hasn’t deserved its murder capital reputation for years, but 2012 might be the year the city really overthrew the tagline. Barring a rash of holiday slayings, Washington will have fewer than 100 homicides this year. The last time that happened, it was 1963, decades before the waves of drugs and cheap handguns that resulted in 369 deaths in 1988—the highest per capita murder rate in the country, and the year that won the District its dubious title. The lower murder rate is mostly due to crafty policing and changing demographics, though obviously both aggressive crimefighting and gentrification bring their own tradeoffs.