Baddest Part o'Town redux

To get some info for the other thread in On Cecil’s Columns on The Baddest Part of Town, how about in simple survey form the following:

1.Your town’s original main industry ca. 1900 (ie ag? whaling? manufacturing? stockyards?)

2.Main way of getting stuff out (ie rail, ship) and what side of town the original center of railyards/port is/was ?

3.What is the “bad” side of town.

For example, a textual reference in thta thread suggests smaller, complex grids favor the good neighborhood. At least one poster suggested winds in absence of other geographical features. Seems (my WAG) that either is ultimately a function of where the industrial area was placed, generally speaking. Although the industry may have changed over 100 years, the neighborhoods’ character probably (my WAG) trail in moving around. If there is indeed a preponderance of one compass point over the other, I had proposed that it might be related to the ability of vessels in the port (sea, bay or river) to dock easily and load/offload. (Think sailing vessels in the older cities maneuvering to docks against prevailing winds - wouldn’t dock in bad weather- or sandbars on the Mississippi, etc… hence the 100 yrs ago status. This certainly seemed true in small Mississippi river ports, like Donaldsonville LA and north.)

O le mea a tamaali’i fa’asala, a o le mea a tufanua fa’alumaina.

Schenectady: In 1900, probably broommaking. However, by the 1920s, it was General Electric and American Locomotive.

Schenectady: 1900 – the Erie Canal (which ran right through the center of town in those days) was the big transportation route in the 19th C, but by 1900, railroads were taking over. The railroad yards were right by the canal (which was filled in around 1915). I’m sure American Locomotive prefered using railroads. :slight_smile: However, in Schenectady the downtown is somewhat west of the geographical center, so though the tracks were considered downtown, they were geographically on the western side of the city.

Currently, Hamilton Hill, which is in the center of the city, just east of the downtown area. It was originally where GE workers had their homes, but as the automobile became ubiquitous, they moved to the suburbs.

Read “Sundials” in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction.

<font face=“abadi mt” size=4>Nashville shipped it’s goods via riverboats on the Cumberland River. Mostly agricultural stuff, and garmets, too, I think.</font>

Is an appreciation of beauty a function of the human soul?

San Jose, CA

  1. Ag: Fruit orchards, truck farming, cattle ranches
    Ind: Canning
  2. Rail – the then W edge
  3. East (but SJ extends in many directions into what would be separate suburbs in almost every other NA city, thus good conditions at far E in hills, but far N (Alviso) bad, sewer outlet. Some bad islands in S & W, far W good.

San Francisco, CA

  1. Shipping, banking, various outfitting, steel, glass, clothing

  2. Ship – E,N, rail – SE (terminus, SB only)

  3. SE, some S-central, W-central

Salinas, CA

  1. Ag: Truck farming
    Ind: Beet sugar, canning
  2. Rail – E-central
  3. E (Alisal)(has no suburbs)


Wow Ray, I didn’t know you lived in Salinas?

In Marina where I live, there Potato farm in the north end of town, also there are still some cut flower nurseries here. Mostly it was a bedroom community for people from San Francisco (the second owner, apart from land baron David Jacks, was a developer). It still is a bedroom community and there is no industry here (we were basically housing for the nearby military base, Ft. Ord).

Rail, except there really was no real stop here (this area was known by Southern Pacific as mile post 117). I think the trains may have stopped at the general store, which was near the tracks. Later, roads were built, and the pacific coast highway (highway 1) was built along the west side of town. The west side of town (near beach) was also where the railways went through.

Scattered. On the west side, there is some places that are bad (one place, which is an apartment complex called “the halls of hell” is so bad the police want it condemned).

Towards the center of town is some bad areas where a few gangs live (not really dangerous, mostly cause trouble).

But it’s mostly the south west central area thats not the best part to live in. The east and north sides are the safest areas (i live on the far east side). There arent any real horrible sides of town. Within short walking distance of “the halls of hell” there are some fairly nice neighborhoods.

Actually, it all is a bit more complex than the requested information.

First of all, the character of certain sections of a town changes over time. In cities with white flight, areas that are now run down and mostly black often were at the start decent middle class neighborhoods which were NOT considered the ‘bad’ side of town. So looking at a city in, say, 1900 or even 1950 might give you a very different picture of the ‘bad’ side of town.

Second, the idea of a ‘side’ has to be a bit better defined. For example, as Ray notes, San Jose is both ‘bad’ and ‘good’ as you go to the east of Downtown. Close in, it isn’t the greatest, but farther out you have wonderful middle class housing tracts the extend up to the hills. What, then, the dimensions of a ‘side’?

This is the sort of project that would keep a sociologist employed for quite a while… :wink:

Why not use the same thread Cecil used for (some of) his own research? It’s all here already:

Nickrz: Probably because that thread talks about specific cities (even though it spread out to a few other big cities, it focused mostly on large cities.
Anyway, i forgot to add, my town was built in housing tract areas that all had a name. I forget what the name of the tract area I live in(sunset something),there’s an area that has all of it’s streets named after places in Hawaii. One of the most recent housing developments has the name “Eastridge Estates”, and it was built on an old field.
These tracts also rarely have straight streets. No grid at all to my city. It kind of popped up in housing developments over the years. You can tell where one area is because you have a main through street, and then steets terminating in cul de sacs branching off.

Long Beach, CA:

Oil: located in modern-day Signal Hill, right smack in the middle of Long Beach and just north of downtown.

Tourism: lodging and attractions were located on the south facing beaches running from downtown in the SW corner of town to the San Gabriel River at the SE corner.

I don’t know how the oil was transported originally. Now days it is piped straight to refineries just on the other side of the Port of Long Beach/Los Angeles in Torrance (west of Long Beach).

The tourists for the most part arrived by light rail from Los Angeles.

The Port itself is relatively new. It wasn’t properly dredged and equipted until World War I. The Navy didn’t get here until World War II. What little heavy rail there is, runs inland (north) from the port along the Los Angeles River to a major railyard just North of Compton. Most of the port’s cargo is transported to this railyard by truck these days.

The Westside: bordering the port and the Los Angeles River running from downtown in the South to the border with Compton in the North, however there are several patches of “good” neighborhoods on the Westside.

Note: This little chunk of the west coast takes a sharp turn to the right, thus putting the beaches to the South of Long Beach and LA.

Berkeley, CA

  1. Ag: Dairy
    Commerce: Higher education, light industry, fisheries, real estate, cottage industries, resort hotel
  2. Rail – W (bay shore)
  3. South, West. West was, at that time, the center of (and most of, except for university) town.


I currently live in Berkeley. I lived in Salinas from 2nd grade through 7th grade (1938-1943) – obviously partly while Ft. Ord was really fired up and we had dark window shades and blackouts in fear of offshore Japanese submarines. A nisei family of four who were friends of ours had to leave to internment camps in Utah and Arizona. My mother used to take us out on rural roads to pick up heads of lettuce that had fallen off the trucks. Lived first on Romie Lane ($55/mo), then in an older house on Central Ave., which had a barn for a garage ($30/mo). – across from Central Park. That location, NW, was of mixed condition but basically OK at the time. I do remember my folks once had to call the cops on two soldiers that started fighting in front of our house though. My dad fixed can-closing machines for Continental Can on Cannery Row, Monterey and at fruit and vegetable canneries from Gilroy to Atascadero.

As for Marina, I guess I figured it was as much a problem, pretty much all over, as Seaside, on the other side of Ft. Ord, but without businesses. Didn’t realize there would’ve been anything there “c. 1900”. Guess that area didn’t exactly get painted in better light after that Christina Williams (was it?) tragedy.

Oh, yeah, sort of off topic, right.


BTW, I forgot to ask Doobieous when Ft. Ord started up. I take, from his post, that it was in place “c. 1900”.


1.Your town’s original main industry ca. 1900 (ie ag? whaling? manufacturing? stockyards?)

2.Main way of getting stuff out (ie rail, ship) and what side of town the original center of railyards/port is/was ?

3.What is the “bad” side of town.


  1. Milling

  2. Probably rail and of course the Mississippi River. Railyards are over in St. Paul and I believe that most of the barge-loading took place over by St. Anthony Falls, where most of the old mills were located.

  3. North Minneapolis and Southeastern Minneapolis, east of 35W, the so-called “Phillips” neighborhood.

“My hovercraft is full of eels.”

NickRZ, because the original, original thread didn’t ask about industrialized areas (although some respondents provided that info).

What responses have popped up here, and in the other threads, don’t seem to show much correlation between industrialized areas and the bad part of town (although not all are reporting original, circa 1900 industries…) so I reckon it’s all a moot point anyway - for now.

Well, what was here wasnt more than a few houses near Locke Paddon Park (the lake), and on Reindollar Ave. (the first few families settled there). Actually I kind of lied about this being set up as a bedroom community for the army. At first it wasnt, but as the base grew, many military people moved out to Marina because the only real housing was the barracks (the houses in Ft. Ord are all fairly new, from the 60’s I believe). The real estate developer who bought the land marina sits on wanted the area to be something like vacation homes for San Francisco IIRC.

I also think I recall Ft. Ord being there since the late 1800’s (not sure, maybe 1860’s it was established. It really wasn’t anything more than a city of tents. The wooden barracks got build in the 40’s (complete with lead paint too!)