Actually, no. Ashley Southall of the New York Times has it wrong in saying that the current homicide rate of 286 is “the lowest since reliable records have been kept.”
We can say this because the FBI Uniform Crime Reports for the United States are online, via Archive.org. Granted, they aren’t easy to find. But they are there.
Here, for example, are the statistics on New York City’s major crimes for 1940:
In which we see that New York City reported 275 cases classified as murder and non-negligent manslaughter.