Skid row

For the heavy metal band see Skid Row (heavy metal band). For other uses of the term Skid Row see Skid Row (disambiguation).


The term skid or skid road is used to refer to a run-down or dilapidated urban area. There are formally recognized neighborhoods named Skid Row in Seattle and Los Angeles. Informally, there is an identified skid-row neighborhood in almost every major North American city, such as The Bowery in New York City and the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver, which like Seattle's, was one of the original locations where the term was first coined.
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Skid Row, Los Angeles

Origins

The origins of the term 'skid row' date back to the 19th century.[1] The source of the term as an urban-landscape reference is heavily debated, and is generally identified as originating in either Vancouver, British Columbia or Seattle, Washington, where it was adapted from the term "skid road", a corduroy road made of logs, used to skid or drag logs through woods and bog.

The term did not become popular until well into the 20th century, while the incorporation dates either postdate or coincide with the earliest estimates of the term's origins, mid 1800's.[2]

Yesler Way, Seattle, Washington, the street for which the term "Skid Road" was first applied in the United States is still used as a street to this day, (although not for skidding logs as it had been originally). The equivalent street in Vancouver is the 100-block of East Hastings Street, and was like Yesler Way originally a "skid road".

In what is now Seattle, the logs were floated from the foothills of the Cascade Mountains across Lake Washington to Skid Road. The logs were then "skidded" by attaching a "choke" chain, or cable, to one end of the log. The log was then pulled by overhead cables, dragging or skidding the other end over the hill to the Seattle Waterfront, to a saw mill owned by Henry Yesler.
The Vancouver Skid Road was part of a complex of such roads in the dense forests surrounding the Hastings Mill and adjacent to the settlement of Granville, Burrard Inlet (aka Gastown.

Murray Cromwell Morgan, in his 1952 book "Skid Road", described how the loggers spent the summers in the mountains cutting down trees and how the winter snow and mud hampered operations. The out-of-work loggers would hang out on Skid Road hoping to find work and would often run out of money, sleep on the streets, and beg for food or money. This is where the connection between the operation of skidding logs and being poor and unemployed originated.

The term "Skid Road" was in common usage in the mid 1800's, and referred to logging camps and mills all along the Pacific Coast.<ref name="hlo" /> Vancouver, British Columbia started off as a sawmill settlement called "Granville," in the early 1870s.<ref name="AVan" /> By the 1960s, "Skid Road" was commonly used to describe the more dilapidated areas in the city's Downtown Eastside,[3] which is focussed on the original "strip" along East Hastings Street due to a concentration of single-room occupancy hotels (SROs) and associated bars in the area.

Rev. Mark A. Matthews, a well-known prohibitionist, is attributed to the popularization of the term "Skid Road" to be synonymous with "bad neighborhood," in the early 20th century.<ref name="hlo" /> The term most likely evolved into "skid row" to reflect a more contemporary urban neighborhood.

Seattle

Seattle's Skid Row was gentrified and designated the Pioneer Square Historic District in 1970.

Vancouver

A portion of Vancouver's Skid Row, Gastown, has also been rejuvenated but is in a difficult coexistence with the Downtown Eastside, a nearby impoverished district along East Hastings Street infamous for its open drug trade, prostitution and high rate of HIV and AIDS infection. The poorest urban area in Canada,[4] it is wedged between Downtown, Chinatown and Gastown. These areas are frequented by tourists, and East Hastings Street is a major throughfare. These avenues of exposure make the Downtown Eastside a highly visible example of a skid row. The Downtown Eastside (sometimes abbreviated D.T.E.S.) is also home to the only legal intravenous drug safe injection site in Canada, part of a harm reduction policy aimed at helping the area's drug addicted residents.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles's Skid Row, in an area of downtown Los Angeles also known as Central City East, is home to one of the largest stable populations of transient persons (homeless) in the United States. Informal population estimates range from 7,000 to 8,000. L.A.'s Skid Row is sometimes called "the Nickel," because it is centered on Fifth Street. Most of the city's homeless and social service providers (such as Frontline Foundation, Midnight Mission, Union Rescue Mission and Downtown Women's Center) are based on Skid Row. While downtown Los Angeles has gone through a revitalization in recent years, development has mostly skipped over the Skid Row neighborhood. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, several local hospitals and suburban law enforcement agencies were accused by Los Angeles Police Department and other officials of transporting those homeless people in their care to Skid Row. [1] [2] According to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the official boundaries of Skid Row are Third and Seventh Streets to the north and south and Alameda and Main Streets to the east and west, respectively. [5]

The name is official enough that fire engines and ambulances serving the neighborhood have historically had "Skid Row" emblazoned on their sides. On 1 June 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported[3] that fire officials plan to change the legend on the vehicles to read "Central City East". Many residents support the change, but it is opposed by firefighters and some residents who take pride in the sense that they live in a tough place.

Trivia

References

1. ^ Turner, Wallace. "A Clash Over Aid Effort on the First 'Skid Row'", The New York Times, December 2, 1986. Retrieved on 2007-01-27. 
2. ^ Rochester, Junius (October 17, 2002). Yesler, Henry L. (1810-1892). History Ink.. Retrieved on 2007-01-27.
3. ^ "Demolish City's Skid Road, Murder Protest Demands". Vancouver Sun. April 6, 1962. p.1
4. ^ Kalache, Stefan. "The Poorest Postal Code Vancouver's Downtown Eastside in Photos", The Dominion, January 12, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-10-15. 
5. ^ The Ninth Circuit (PDF). The United States Court of Appeals (April 14, 2006). Retrieved on 2007-01-29.

See also

External links

Skid Row may refer to:
  • Skid row, a North American term for a run down or dilapidated area of a city
  • Skid Row (blues-rock band), a blues-rock band founded by Gary Moore
  • Skid Row (heavy metal band), an American heavy metal band

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