Ever Found Yourself In A REALLY Bad Part Of Town?

Many years ago I went to a party in NYC that I thought was only a few blocks from Greenwich Village and decided to leave the party walk there. It was about 2 AM and off I go. Next thing I know, there is not a single soul on the streets, few street lights and nothing but abandoned buildings as far as I could see. I realized I was a good 20 blocks from the Village.

I picked up speed (thanks to living in NYC, I can walk at a very good clip) and was dashing along when BAM…I almost run into another guy coming from around a building. I thought I was going to have a heart attack, but this guy totally freaked out and said, “Holy shit, you trying to scare the crap out of me or what!!!”

I think I was probably walking about 35 MPH after that and made the trip to the Village in record time.

So, have you ever suddenly found yourself somewhere that was scary bad…either by foot or by car?

Not by foot or by car, but also in NYC…by subway.

Freshman year at NYU, I was doomed to be the eternal voice of reason for a gaggle of horny guys on my dorm floor. One lonely, tipsy Saturday night, they decided they wanted to go ogle the girls down by South Street Seaport, and being the lone sober person in the vicinity, I decided to go with them and make sure they got home in one piece. (I am frequently doomed to being considered “one of the guys.”)
Well, we hung out there for a while, but on the way back (about 2 a.m.) most of the guys ditched us, leaving me alone with Eric, a very sheltered Orthodox boy from suburban New Jersey. Eric was quite drunk, and if I was a sheltered suburban Midwestern girl back then, he was even more hopeless in terms of street smarts. Plus the kippa didn’t exactly make him inconspicuous.

We got on the subway, and by the time I realized we were going in the wrong direction, it was 2:30 and we were in Bedford-Stuyvesant. I dragged Eric off the train so we could get on one going in the other direction, and we discovered that this was a station where you had to go above ground in order to get to the other side of the station. I looked around and basically saw a bunch of blue-collar workers coming home from night shift jobs; nobody was really paying any attention to us. Eric looked around and saw a very run-down neighborhood with lots of boarded-up windows and non-white faces, and started getting more panicky by the minute.

I was trying to keep him calm, without much success, when a truck backfired. Eric, thinking it was gunfire, hit the dirt. It was so damn funny! The rest of the guys never let him live that one down. We eventually made it back to the dorm, and Eric had a wicked hangover the next day.

HA! I live in it!

No kidding. Good old Whalley World. All the Vancouver Dopers will know what I mean.

I have to go right past what is considered “Ground Zero” every day. That’d be Gateway Station and vicinity. Those crackshacks on the news lately? Right down the street from work. Matter of fact, we’ve got one next door and I think this house used to be one too. We sure had some strange people show up the first couple months.

It’s never dull, that’s for sure. I refer to sirens as “The Surrey Anthem”.

Here’s kind of a humorous story about one of my buds.

This happened 20 years ago, when we were still young and crazy. He decided to go to a baseball game at Comisky Park in Chicago, by himself. My friend liked to drink (among other things), and he was a White Sox fanatic at the time. So he’s half drunk, drives down to the game and decides to park on some side street rather than in the lot.

When he decides to leave the game, he’s walking to his car and notices three black guys are inside his car removing the stereo and generally rifling through his car. My bud, in the way he does, stumbles up the car and starts his goofy giggling and such, and asks the guys what they are up to. They get one look at him and start laughing, somehow my friend just turns into a clown when he’s wasted, people can’t help but be amused by his condition. So he tells the guys, how about we smoke a doobie? So they do.

So the guys tell him, we were going to steal all this stuff out of your car, but if you give us a ride a few blocks to this housing project (one of the most dangerous projects in Chicago), that would be cool. So my bud gives the three would-be robbers a ride to this notorious housing project, drops them off, and heads on home.

Crazy dude huh.


Once in DC late at night we took a wrong turn off Rhode Island Avenue. Yeah. That was fun.


Not me, but some classmates before they became familiar with Vancouver. A bunch of us from the class decided to go to a bar in Gastown. Two of the guys decided they were going to drive there and meet us a bit later. When the arrived, they were complaining a bit about having to walk through a bad area to get there. At the end of the evening, I got a ride home with them, so we left the bar and they started heading off east. Despite being somewhat drunk, at that point I started to realize just what they had meant by “bad neighbourhood” and I believe I started asking them if they were complete idiots. My friend was parked on Main, about 1/2 block from Hastings, which is another one all Vancouver Dopers should be familiar with.

I live in what passes for a “bad part of town” in Japan.

I mean bars, pachinko parlors, hookers, gangsters, the whole shebang. I see flashy European cars with black-tinted windows cruising past every day. One night I witnessed what appeared to be an honest-to-goodness gangster car chase. I suspect there may be prostitutes operating out of the apartment unit next to mine, although it’s possible that the residents just have extremely enthusiastic and active sex lives. (We’ve got thin walls, so even though I’ve never really seen them, I hear them at all hours of the night!) I also believe I’ve seen local organized crime representatives leaving my landlord’s office. I don’t really know, but they looked a little too flashy for ordinary young salarymen.

Did I mention that, given my work hours, I have to walk home alone after dark every day?

This used to trouble me a lot, but actually the area seems to be pretty safe. About once a week I pass by an empty car left sitting outside a shop with the motor running while the owner runs in to pick something up. And these cars aren’t the sinister-looking ones either, just regular little cars, but no one seems worried that they’ll be stolen. I guess organized crime cuts down on disorganized crime! And the yakuza have an apparently deserved reputation for not bothering people who haven’t given them trouble first. I am still somewhat concerned that I’ll be mistaken for one of the Russian hookers working in the area and find myself in a bad situation, but the worst that’s happened so far is that once an old man on the street leered at me.

I once got lost in Brixton in London which was scary for a bush bunny like me. I must have been lucky- it was unbelievably dull when I was there.

When I ran away from home at the ripe old age of fifteen I went to go live in the bad part of town. I found shelter in a one bedroom shack with about twenty “wet-backs” (and yes I can call them that because those guys/gals took me in as one of them. In other words they were like family to me.) I think I paid a total of about twenty bucks a month to live there.

Some of my fondest memories are of the times I spent there. Very few greengos have had the privilage of eating some of the best homemade mexican food that I got to eat. I’m talking about stuff you’ll NEVER find at an El chico or places like that. Damn good stuff I tell ya!

Not only did I get great food but also the comradery I experince there was unmatched to anything I’ve EVER experinced in an upperclass nieghborhood. I’m not just talking about the folks I lived with but my neighbors as well.

It’s wiered, in the upperclass parts of town people never talk to their neighbors but in the shity parts of town everbody knows everybody. Why is that?

I’ve lived in a variety of dodgy areas in Dublin, and I’ve been burgled 5 times. Never been mugged, thank goodness. One time, in a fit of misguided bleeding-heartedness, I decided I needed to see how my neighbours lived, so I walked through Charlemont Street Flats (equivalent of “projects”) right next to my apartment. Burnt out cars, used syringes, dodgy looking characters glowering at me from alleyways. Scared the crap out of me.

My current situation is not the least dodgy: it’s a former corporation residential subdivision, and 99% of the residents are salt-of-the-earth pleasant, probably far nicer than their middle-class equivalents. However, the other 1% make up for this in style. Joyriding cars do 360s in front of my house every couple of days; the staff in the local liquor store are hemmed in behind thickened perspex (and despite this just yesterday I saw two ten-year-olds manage to steal a load of cigarette papers through a gap in the perspex); there was a racist arson attack by children on our local corner store - it has reopened but now employs security guards; a couple of months ago I noticed a huge motorcycle behind me as I drove down the street. I learned next morning that the passenger on the bike was carrying a sawn-off shotgun and had walked into the house of one of my neighbours and blew away several of his internal organs. :eek:

But the best story I’ve heard, probably apocryphal, was about a rather bad suburb of Dublin called Tallaght. A few years ago, this guy was driving through Tallaght, and his car broke down. So he got out and popped the hood, and was looking at the engine, trying to work out what was wrong. Almost immediately he heard a noise from round the side of the car, so he walked round the vehicle to find another guy lying on the ground, arranging a pile of bricks under the chassis. The guy with the bricks looked up at him and said: “Oh you work away there, mate. I just want the wheels.”

In 1980 I did my first travel nurse assignment in New Orleans. The company I worked for was the only one and hadn’t figured out all the kinks. One BIG kink was where we we sent to live. It was 2 blocks from the hospital, across Canal Street from the projects. Canal was marginally safe but, nubile white girls did NOT go jogging through the projects. I was completely oblivious, I waved at people out in their yards and on porches. When I got back to the hotel where we were housed (another story altogether) The security guard stopped me and asked where I had been. I was quite offended that he should feel he could monitor my comings and goings. He told me there was “racial tension” over there, and several “white folk” had been beaten up just for going into the neighborhood.
I ran there every day for the next 3 months, hey a few people even got so they’d wave back! :cool:

One of my first jobs after college was with a consumer finance…ok, a payday loan company. I was a branch manager in Nashville.
One of the duties of the job was to ‘field call’ customers with checks that were past due or that had been returned from the bank. So, the first week I was manager of this store (I started as a CSR, then ended up a manager in one store, and then got transferred to this other store). I take out my maps, plan my route and head out the door, leaving my assistant manager in charge.

When I come back, having collected somewhere around $1000 cash from people, I described to my assistant manager where I’d been (I was new to Nashville - this was a relocation for me), and she informed me that I’d been in the middle of the Sam Levy Homes, and that I didn’t need to be there because cops didn’t even go there.

I told her it didn’t look that bad - and it really didn’t. A customer came in, and A.M. told her, and asked her to talk some sense into me. I got a talking to up one side and down the other.

Next week, I went back - I went regularly enough that there were people I recognized, who would wave to me. I had a customer come in one day who said she would see me driving around and keep an eye on me, and on my car when I got out of it. I never saw it as that scary a place - but everyone else did, apparently.

I was lost in Washington DC and found myself in a shady looking area. I don’t know if it wa a bad part of town, but it certainly wasn’t good. Nothing bad happened, it ws daylight, and I found my way back to the hotel (I was in a rental car).

I was trying to get to the Dublin Airport at about 5AM and got lost. It was dark, and I had no idea where we were. One minute we were in an area with businesses and stuff, the next we were in an area with a lot of run-down buildings (not my fault - I was driving, my navigators missed the airport sign). We finally stopped at an open gas station and asked directions - that was scary. Of course nobody with me had the guts to get out of the car and go in and ask for directions, so I did it.

I live in a reasonably quiet suburban area (Aussies and Brits, it’s just like “Neighbours”), but my nearest big urban centre - where I go to catch the train to work - is pretty close to being Greater Sydney’s heroin ground zero. It’s not uncommon to be offered “Are you alright, mate?” several times on the way home from the train late at night. The other night I was approached by these two huge guys (I’m not small myself, but still) out of the darkness at 11:30pm as I was scurrying homeward. Turns out all they wanted was directions to a pub, and one of them was so drunk that I ended up carrying him (well, kinda holding him up and steering him) across six lanes of traffic, because there was no way in hell he was going to accept my advice that he was too pissed not to take the longer route via the crossing. It was out of my way an’ all, but they were harmless friendly guys - just bloody scary looking.

My favourite street though, is Scott Street, Liverpool. This is the way I walk to the station. There is a short block which is just like a stereotyped “wrong side of the tracks” scene from The Simpsons. One side is comprised entirely of two huge, very rough and sleazy pubs, complete with barricaded liquor stores. The other side has a brothel, a tattooist, a sex shop, a tobacconist with a window display of hashish pipes, a liquor store, and another rough pub. And right in the middle of all this… a florist. :smiley: All within about fifty metres or so.

Strangely, the florist seems to be the most sucessful business.

Mind you, none of the above compares to the time a guy I used to date took a wrong turn in Belfast and ended up in a loyalist estate - in a car with Dublin plates - while he was wearing a Celtic top.

The Irish Dopers will understand.

ruadh, that reminds me of the old Scottish Rangers / Celtic joke about the hapless football fan, the bovril and the shoes. You probably know it. :smiley:

Boscibo, I reckon know where you ended up: that’d be the infamous Ballymun. I know the gas station you’re talking about. Scary place indeed. They’re tearing the whole place down now and replacing the 1960s social housing nightmare with modern buildings.

I once drove straight into the front of an Orange march on the Ormeau Road in Belfast once. As I watched the Lambeg Drum and a line of bowler-hatted be-sashed marchers, I was thinking “I’ll be OK, I’ve got an English accent, so if they stop me, they won’t mind me”. Except then I realised I had Dublin plates on the van. Fastest three-point-turn ever.

To even things up a day or two later, in a foolhardy act of living dangerously, I got my picture taken on the Falls Road eating a sandwich in front of the mural of Bobby Sands. I am SO going to hell for that.

What are the mechanics of the loyalist / republican thing? I understand that living north of the border, one can be either. So, why does having Dublin plates automatically make you a republican - other than obviously being from the Republic? Is there much of a loyalist (or for want of a better term - “I wish we were ruled by Her Maj too)” sentiment south of the border? does it even exist in small pockets. Inquiring minds, an’ all…

In all my time here I’ve met a total of three people from the Republic who expressed regret that Ireland was no longer part of the UK. One was a taxi driver (“the problem with this place is we kicked the Brits out”) and the other two were serving in the British armed forces. There are Orange lodges in Wicklow and Donegal, and there’s the derogatory term “West Brit” that indicates that the Irish person in question is less than Irish; a few West Brits might indeed hanker after former colonial rule. So in my opinion, while that sentiment does exist, it’s very, very rare.

As for the Dublin reg. thing, while it’s usually totally safe to drive around Northern Ireland with plates from the Republic*, there are a few Loyalist thugs who would attack anything Republican or Nationalist, or indeed anything that represents the Republic. An Orange march is likely to attract this sort of idiot, and such an idiot is likely to live in the sort of dodgy housing estate to which ruadh refers.

*That said, the l last time I was in the North with my Dublin reg. car, some bastard let my tyres down in the hotel car park; I attributed it to political motives since none of the Northern reg cars were touched.

Once, when I was young and foolish, I was in downtown Cincinnati with friends. They were visiting me and I had just moved to the area, so none of us knew where we were. We got lost, of course, and stumbled upon a very bad-looking area–burned out buildings, etc. Did I mention it was about 11:00 at night? Anyway, just to make things interesting, our headlights start getting dimmer and dimmer. We stopped in an empty parking lot to see what is going on and my friend turned the car off. As you might expect, it wouldn’t start again. Great. The four of us walk to a nearby liquor store to get change. I was not happy to see all the iron bars and plastic barriers in the store and the guy running the place even looked worried and told us to be careful. Yikes. We started calling places that advertised 24 hour towing and got someone to agree to come tow the car. While we were on the phone, another car cruised by our car verrrrry slowly. It had dark windows, so we couldn’t tell who was inside, but when two of us walked back toward our stranded car, the cruising car went away. After about 30 fear-filled minutes, the tow guy came and was able to fix the car enough so that we could limp to another section of town, get a room for the night, and get it fixed for the morning.