The Baddest Part of Town

TSD for 11/5/99: Is the south side always the baddest part of town?

Hey, Our Hero copped out on this one! [See TSD for 11/5/99, not yet published on this Website.] He didn’t try to settle whether the south sides of cities are generally the most rundown. He just notes that Hoyt didn’t get that far, only claiming there were good and bad sectors in cities. So I guess what ever’s according to Hoyt goes with Our Hero. Booooooooo!

I still maintain the predominance of NW-to-SE trade winds in the temperate and subtropical Northern Hemisphere determine this economic disparity, in the absence of local natural geographical features or quite large cultural ones – by providing, most of the time, better air in the N and W than in the S and E of any city.

Id only Hoyts fer a liddle wile. Den ya’s gotta get ta da troot, da hole troot.

What I’s athinkin’ is that Cecil lives on da N side of Chi an’ he’s afraid o’ dem S-side residents comin’ up ‘n’ visitin’ 'im. :wink:


Note: I have added the link to Cecil’s column.–CKDH
[Note: This message has been edited by CKDextHavn]

So, let me see if I understand. You posted this idea in the General Questions section, and were presented with considerable evidence of large cities with general economic trends that didn’t meet your hypothesis, not to mention quite a bit of commentary noting that what is bad at one point in time is tomorrows good section, and vice versa. The question then got picked up by the Fearless Leader, and he also discounts this as a reality. Yet you still maintain your hypothesis.

Now, I am not saying that the hypothesis is wrong. But it would seem that it needs more study, with critical analysis of the terms involved before it can be analyzed rigorously. Unless you are willing to do that, I think hanging on to this idea strikes me as someone who has made up his mind and can’t be bothered with the facts.

NO! I don’t think you’ve had a chance to read this column yet of Cecil’s. I’m not saying my theory is the last word at all. It’s just what I threw up; it’s really irrelevant to the gist of this post, and I don’t know how my thread fit into the picture of Cece’s column, if at all. All I know is that sometime after my thread, Ed Zotti asked for more info on US cities.

Cecil’s column answers a letter from a John O’Keefe of Westchester, IL. Read the Last Word’s conclusion on this problem (in your local weekly or on this site whenever it gets put up; still not here at this time). Here’s his conclusion:

I’ve just never seen Unca Cece cop out like that before. Maybe the Earth’s poles are about to reverse, thus putting him on the bottom of the world’s heap of “knowledge” and whatever. He then just says:

Well, I took a “whack” at it (unmentioned in the column), and I guess I was a guest of his. . .or an aficionado or suh’m, at the time, but it was only a whack. (If it had been a real answer, we’d all be living on Easy Street – which would, of course, run NW-SE all the way through town.)

Maybe there are some solutions to this act of leaving us high and dry and on the seamy side of town:

  1. Shift en masse over to Marilyn vos Savant’s pad. Hmm. Brain teasers. Don’t think that’ll do it.

  2. Try reversing the trade winds. Beyond our technological expertise and budget? Well, maybe we can get a little help from NASA. Hey, if a flykeeper at UCB can convince the US Navy to finance his artificial spy fly, NASA ought to listen to us. And maybe we can get HUD into this also. I mean, this is all about getting cities cleaned up from having any bad sectors, isn’t it? And after HUD fell in its own soup in that Caribbean English-creole caper, maybe it could use a new press release.

  3. Move to Argentina or Australia or wherever in the Southern Hemisphere and study the cities down there. BTW, are there no Oz types in this board? What’s the score down there?


Ok, I’ll play. Besides agreeing with at least one of the comments of a responder I read over there this morning, my main problem with your theory is that surely many of the cities mentioned have much more important factors than winds. Some of them are on Great Lakes. Others are on oceans or rivers. Surely (sez me) that is far more relevant to the quality of life and desirability of property than prevailing breezes (not that breezes aren’t related to bodies of water.)

I don’t look at what you see as Cecil’s cop-out as one myself. I (apparently) agree with him that that is simply way to complicated a subject to tackle without putting a doctoral thesis’ amount of study into it. I dare say there are plenty of topics Cecil wouldn’t find worth the time and effort necessary to definitively answer just to come up with one column. I assume he avoided mentioning the ones he took a pass on in the past?

Another one who just wants to argue. Did you read my first post here?:

If this needs interpretation:

  1. A large lake on the E side of Chicago is likely to change what the trade winds would determine.

  2. A large stockyard on the north of Dallas-Ft.=Worth might do the same.

These can change the picture, in a given case, whether they are more or less influential than the trade winds. It still appears, however, that there is a background signal that biases the picture to N and W good, S and E bad. Cecil seems to admit this, then to point out that Hoyt never got to that issue, and then to say: You be my guest and take over. So I guess we either solve the puzzle ourselves, look for another omniscient guru, or – perish the thought – accept my answer, either on the basis of all the factual indications in people’s posts to my GQ thread mentioned in my first post here, on the basis of faith in the cult of the effect of the Earth’s Coriolis force, or on the basis of someone’s opposing data from the Southern Hemisphere.

Hey, one extra good column could put him in line for the Nobel on No-Bull-ology. Of course no one expects him to do enough primary research on an issue such as this, in order to derive his own independent results. One would just tend to feel the need for his finding a few more results of past authorities or experimenters in the field than just that one whose work appears to me to Hoyt for lack of ever getting to the meaty question. So maybe there’s not enough sex in the subject to meet the needs of Slug’s artistic talents, you think?

Ray (How many years till the barrios equate? . . . It’s blowin’ in the wind.)

I’ll play. Thinking abut the wind issue there, my humble thought:

1.Good/bad parts of town are extensions of historical preferences, going back years, in themselves determined by which were residential areas and which were the “industrial areas”.

2.Industrial areas were generally selected for access to transportation: using things like barges or sailing vessels, as the case may be in ocean and river ports, there were preferred ways to dock before the readt access of strong-powered cargo vessels. Even today (former merchant seaman speaking) wind figures in approach preferences… Easier to have the wind push you to the dock in large heavy vessels than try and dock against it. Local variances in river towns depending on local currents (explains perhaps St. Louis)

  1. Most rivers in the Northern Hemispheres run N to S, leaving southern, export-transit economies as opposed to production economies (regional N vrs S issue)…

and so on.

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

1.Good/bad parts of town are extensions of historical preferences, going back years, in themselves determined by which were residential areas and which were the “industrial areas”.

Well, in some cases whole areas were industrial, in some there were mainly residences but the few industries were degrading to the residential quality of life, and in some the houses were originally just built very cheaply. The corresponding opposite cases also existed. And then, particularly in the West, the non-agricultural history of a given city sector has been short. Where a large quarry, say, was built, or a sewage-treatment plant, that in itself could’ve been a large enough deterrent to rather decent homes. That sort of thing I referred to as ‘large cultural land features’.

2.Industrial areas were generally selected for access to transportation: using things like barges or sailing vessels, as the case may be in ocean and river ports, there were preferred ways to dock before the readt access of strong-powered cargo vessels. Even today (former merchant seaman speaking) wind figures in approach preferences… Easier to have the wind push you to the dock in large heavy vessels than try and dock against it. Local variances in river towns depending on local currents (explains perhaps St. Louis)

So, that’s an elaboration of my ‘large natural land features’ – bodies of water. I have no knowledge as to how significant this commercial wind-water interaction might’ve been.

*3. Most rivers in the Northern Hemispheres *

How many Northern Hemispheres can you fit on one globe? :wink:

run N to S,

Looking at maps of N. Amer., Eur. & Asia – except in the case of Russia (where the rivers almost all do not drain to a warm-water port), I’d say that’s not true at all.

leaving southern, export-transit economies as opposed to production economies (regional N vrs S issue)…

So here you’re considering N/S effects on countries, provinces or continents as a whole, not cities? And then are you concluding that “export-transit economies” achieve considerably less income than do “production economies”? I suppose so. I think the South in the US, though, came out poorer overall, simply because of the land-baron nature of plantations (agricultural “production economies”), i.e., they supported a small number of wealthy overlords and scads of slaves and serfs. But on this larger-territory scale, I simply go for the latitude thing – weather that requires and suits greater industry in the N, while same that does not demand and impedes much industry in the S. In CA-US, where there is a high in- and outflow of both N & S peoples, and both extensive agriculture and extensive moderate-grade industry, you see the both effects going on. But my interest here was strictly at the city level.

So, having set up your hypotheses, where are your lists of example cities?

Except for large ocean ports, I don’t think what you discuss has been all that influential, at least in the last 100 yr. And if I take San Francisco, as an example of a moderately large ocean port, its dock areas have always extended from N to SE facing, on the bay side, of course, for protection and water depth, not because of wind direction. But anyhow, I don’t see that they have much of any effect on the mostly NW-to-SE economic downslope in that city. Oakland’s dock area, the more industrially significant in the bay, is on its NW side, because that is the choice of bay water is only on the W, and the NW is the closest to the Golden Gate (the entrance to the bay). The effect of WW II, as to shipbuilding there, put many poor blacks on NW Oakland flats, but in recent years far more poor blacks, Latinos and whites have settled in SE Oakland flats. The hills, being on a long NE edge of this NW-SE-running town, the well-off population lives on that side, particularly to the N. So presently the port influence on the city’s economic distribution is really nil. Sacramento has been significantly, and still is a little, a river port, but I don’t know much about the economic layout of Sacto, so I’ll pass on that.


Well I just saw the column, and note that Cecil included San Francisco in the list of cities where south is bad. I was the one who brought up SF in the earlier thread (WOW! Cecil used my info! I feel so … special :)) and I have to admit now it probably would have been more accurate to say SF’s bad side is the east. I’m just looking on a map and realizing most of the dodgy neighborhoods are in the eastern half. Sorry Cece.

Actually, Nano, I was WAGing in favor of your thoughts, and responding to the general issue of scaling CA referred to (towns, regions, countires, continents). Sorry about the typo there (hemisphere[s])…

My thoughts about export vs. production economies: take a port city as terminal access to natural resources (turn of the century), add transient labor, no real social infrastructure needed, grab timber, minerals, etc… and ship 'em out - as opposed to the more stabilizing influence of long-term agriculture (or major production, including long-term resource extraction).

Think Manaus vs. Belem on the Amazon. Cities along the Rhine vs. Bremerhaven (I know, flows N). Caracas Vs. LaGuaira. True for the Volga, the Ganges, the Mississippi… Not true in ports whose main biz. was fisheries (and whaling), such as Boston.

While I haven’t too much data on it, I was suggesting that in many cases, the approach for vessels when the city was still developing was chosen for ease of navigation >there sited the industrial district > wealthier folk went elsewhere = original “bad part of town” > persists to this day.

Strictly WAG.

Did you read what I wrote? You brought up specific cities on bodies of water first, not me. And you still believe that they fit in with your theory and that the most important thing about having a body of water on one side or the other or the middle of a city is how that water might affect the winds? We disagree. Got it?

Putrid, you have misunderstood. What he meant was that where significant geographical features are not present, the trade winds will be likely to dictate this.

He does not think that bodies of waters exert their influence by changing the trade winds.

Blimey, you, too? What have I misunderstood? Look back and you will see that I am the one who claimed that bodies of water affect breezes. Are my posts too long to be understood?

You state that he said where significant geographical features are not present . . . I contend that the cities mentioned by him himself do have significant geographical features present, namely oceans, lakes, and rivers, which I contend affect the orientation of good side vs. bad side much more than winds do.

Now does everybody have it? Go ahead and disagree with me for what I wrote but quit coming up with these goofy mistranslations of my points. Disagree with me on the following if you like: I say he was wrong that the East Side of Chicago is the bad side and the West Side is the good side.

You’re right. I said that it was older city development patterns which persist until recently. To finish my WAG with what I thought was obvious, when instead of expanding outward you get gentrification or re-construction, then instead of industrial preferences you get other, late 20th century stuff: Oakland ? since the port biz is nearly nil, the seafront and shorter commutes from the western side are more desirable, so which side are the yuppies gonna recolonize ?

And it isn’t always wind, but say a bend in the river, or rail access, that might dictate which side got industrial development first (this to Putrid…)

DID YOU NOTICE THAT THIS COLUMN OF CECIL’S WAS NEVER PUBLISHED AT THIS SITE?! Next Friday’s column is featured here presently. How come? Does Cecil often skip a printed-page column at this site?


You think of Manaus as a stable place. I’ve never been down in those places, but I thought Manaus was a pretty rough frontier town. And wouldn’t Belem normally be much more than a port, being also an agricultural area that could be a stable, good source of income, except that Brazil has never gotten that economy up there going very well, apparently.

And what is that putrid stuff that blows in here across the water now and then?

In cities where there are bodies of water, those bodies don’t necessarily have to change the economic layout pattern that I have attributed to the predominant winds. I all depends on which sides of the city they exist, and a few other factors.

Well, Oakland continues to have real problems. I doubt Jerry Brown can really do all that much to make a difference. Is the port business “nearly nil”? Commute to what? There isn’t a lot to commute to in downtown Oakland. And the west side of Oakland isn’t a seafront, of course, it’s a bayfront. Have you ever been in West Oakland? It’s always had, besides very poor black neighborhoods, very junky little industrial things and rail yards and container shipping and a large bulk-mail postal facility. And the plans for considerable downtown high-rise living have not worked out much at all. It’s very far from becoming gentrified or even being thought of as susceptible to such. For those dyed-in-the-wool urbanites who desire to live near to downtown Oakland, there are still plenty of apartments and houses available on the east side of downtown and on into part of Piedmont. People keep moving out of Oakland. Oakland is the Detroit of the West Coast. If you have enough money to live in the hills there, that is nice. . .but watch out for firestorms!


I agree with you, Jorge.

NanoByte spoke too soon. Cecil’s column is on-line now. But you probably already know that by now. I mean, you did go through the Home Page to get here, right?

NanoByte, I used to live twenty-five miles south of Fort Worth. In the summer, the prevailing winds are usually from the south and the southwest. Anyone living north or northeast of the Stockyards would get the full effect of the smell. And yet, the south side of Fort Worth is considered the poor part of town. I’m not sure why that’s where most of the poor folk live, but it isn’t because they live downwind of the Stockyards.
And I don’t think Dallas ever had a Stockyards. Dallas money came from banking and industry, whereas Fort Worth was a major stop on the Chisolm Trail. That’s why the Stockyards are there. The beef industry realized it would be better to ship cattle by rail directly from Texas rather than driving them all the way to Wichita, Kansas.

And maybe that’s why the south side of Fort Worth is historically poor. After all, what rich person would allow cowboys to drive their cattle past his front door? They’d therefore build their mansions northeast of the Yards, away from the smell and off the cattle path.

That last paragraph is just supposition. But it makes sense to me.

Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to relive it. Georges Santayana

All I know is that my mention about NYC in the thread where he asked for help was quoted, almost verbatim, by Cecil in his column! Until I hear otherwise, I will take it upon myself to think I MADE A DIFFERENCE! :slight_smile:

Yer pal,

I know the feeling, Satan! He included DC after Sqrl and I mentioned it! The Master used something I wrote! WOOHOO!

Lots of opinion here, not much in the way of facts.

As I challenged Ray in my response, to support the opinion that he proposes (which you will note I refuse to say is wrong), he or someone needs to provide some data that isn’t just of the quality: “I think that the South Side of Chicago is bad, therefore I am right.”

Seems to me Cecil says the same: get data, analyze it, then reach a conclusion.

seems to me we need more data. everybody post a city thet know and what part is "bad’ and why. Now i live in dallas there is no major ‘heavy’ industry here.certainly no stockyards. yet the south side is ‘underdeveloped’. (There IS the Mighty trinity river oozing its odiferous way from the NE, south then slightly east.But the bad side is basically east and north of the sewer ,er, river.)The bad side was once the ‘good side’ Actually i live in a suburb to the east, maybe with suburbs its diff. in my sub it is the central and SE part. the SE part abutts the SW of dallas though. considering the whole county, it is 99.9% urban, the south side is the bad side. I wonder is the north side of a southern suburb the ‘bad’ side?
back in my home town, a smaller city 250,000 isolated in the center of the Texas panhandle, ,the ‘bad’ side was the near NW, and the NE the stockyards were on the NE past the bad part, refineries in North central, a smelter wayout to the NW.the good side was south central and NW of the bad side but south of the smelter. Winds are ALWAYS from the west and strong.
any way my point is what is the bad side of your town? Why?

“Pardon me while I have a strange interlude.”-Marx