# The evolution of a neighborhood

by Ivan Seeking
Tags: evolution, neighborhood
 PF Gold P: 7,363 I grew up in a town that had evolved as a town of construction-workers in the 1920s, building a local hydro-dam. Most of the housing was cheap, shack-y, and had little or no insulation. What had managed to remain standing until the 50's-60's was so shabby and substandard... My parents' rental house at least had running water, if you wanted to heat it yourself on the stove. About 50% of the guys I grew up with in my neighborhood spent substantial times in jail, including state prison. My neighborhood didn't "fall apart" while I was there. It had already fallen apart many years before, and we ended up living there because it was cheaper than nicer, safer lodgings.
P: 1,414
 Quote by turbo I grew up in a town that had evolved as a town of construction-workers in the 1920s, building a local hydro-dam. Most of the housing was cheap, shack-y, and had little or no insulation. What had managed to remain standing until the 50's-60's was so shabby and substandard... My parents' rental house at least had running water, if you wanted to heat it yourself on the stove. About 50% of the guys I grew up with in my neighborhood spent substantial times in jail, including state prison. My neighborhood didn't "fall apart" while I was there. It had already fallen apart many years before, and we ended up living there because it was cheaper than nicer, safer lodgings.
Sounds like you grew up in a tough neighborhood. I grew up in the greaser/hot rod era, but it was, in retrospect, all pretty tame and innocent compared with stuff I've read about, and stuff I experienced in my travels.

My formative years don't seem to have been nearly as trying as yours and Ivan's. Which I am, to a certain extent, and suppose that I should be, thankful for. But then, you guys made it through and seem to be better for the experience.
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 Quote by ThomasT We lived in Long Beach for a few years when I was a toddler. My dad was a naval officer stationed there. In contrast to your experience, the neighborhood that I eventually grew up in (part of metropolitan Cincinnati) didn't change while I was there, and according to Google's street view (and various resources on demographics) it hasn't changed (except maybe negligibly so) in appearance or ethnic diversity in the 45 or so years that I've been away. Of course this isn't true of probably most of the neighborhoods in the region. We were lucky in that we didn't have to deal with bussing or drugs or gangs.
Downtown Long Beach got really bad for a time. I don't know if you remember The Pike [your mom might have taken you there for the kiddie rides], which later became Queen's Park, but that area ended up a slum riddled with tattoo parlors, drug dealers, drunks, prostitutes, and so on. Then, in the late 90s they revitalized the entire downtown area. They literally took a bulldozer to many blocks and rebuilt from scratch. From 4th St down to the shoreline the area is now high-end restaurants, coffee shops, gift shops and the like. North of 4th St., when I was last there, things hadn't changed a bit, but the downtown area looked awesome. I was last back there in 2000 for a seminar on the Queen Mary and I couldn't believe how good it all looked.

The naval center is closed!
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 Quote by Ivan Seeking Downtown Long Beach got really bad for a time. I don't know if you remember The Pike [your mom might have taken you there for the kiddie rides], which later became Queen's Park, but that area ended up a slum riddled with tattoo parlors, drug dealers, drunks, prostitutes, and so on. Then, in the late 90s they revitalized the entire downtown area. They literally took a bulldozer to many blocks and rebuilt from scratch. From 4th St down to the shoreline the area is now high-end restaurants, coffee shops, gift shops and the like. North of 4th St., when I was last there, things hadn't changed a bit, but the downtown area looked awesome. I was last back there in 2000 for a seminar on the Queen Mary and I couldn't believe how good it all looked. The naval center is closed!
Interesting! And no I don't remember Long Beach. I was too young. We have lots of pictures with me and my sisters and my mom and dad, which are my only link to having lived there.

I've seen the revitalization/gentrification of several neighborhoods. It involves getting the poor people out, rebuiliding, and then making things too expensive for poor people to live, shop, eat or party there. And it seems to have worked in several places where I've lived.

By the way, I agree with you that the selling of drugs by gangs, and specifically the drug laws, are what make poor neighborhoods, generally, not very nice places to live today. And that's kind of sadly ironic in light of a couple of studies I've seen that put the average income of the street level drug dealers at around the minimum wage.
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 Quote by ThomasT I've seen the revitalization/gentrification of several neighborhoods. It involves getting the poor people out, rebuiliding, and then making things too expensive for poor people to live, shop, eat or party there. And it seems to have worked in several places where I've lived.
Good point. I have no idea where all of those people went. Presumably they just migrated North a bit.
 Emeritus Sci Advisor PF Gold P: 12,498 Haha, I guess I'll confess now. [bringing back lots of memories here]. As the ultimate condemnation of the public schools, even though I was drunk and barely attending for a better part of a year, I still managed to pass all of my classes by just showing up for the tests, less one - English. When we left the area, I had to go around and have all of my teachers indicate the grade that would transfer. Everyone had an answer except for my English teacher, who wasn't sure if I was getting a D or an F. So everyone had a grade indicated except her. What saved me was the name of the class - English 1A, which transfered as English 1 - A. It never caught up with me. From there I took public speaking until I graduated and never had to take another HS English class. Boy did that one hurt when I finally went to college.
P: 1,414
 Quote by Ivan Seeking Good point. I have no idea where all of those people went. Presumably they just migrated North a bit.
They mostly go to the public housing projects, I think. Which are located some distance away from the revitalized/gentrified areas. They're not just put out on the street, afaik. They have access to various benefits which enable them to get affordable long-term shelter. And these places could be very nice places to live, with a bit of effort. But, inevitably, the public housing projects become infested with drug-selling violent gangs -- and I suppose that a sort of feeling of resignation and hopelessness overcomes the good people who live there. It's quite sad really. I've seen cities spend millions on making nice places for poor people to live, only to have them degenerate into squalid and physically run down centers of prostitution and drug dealing soon after.

One might ask, gee, why don't the police do something about this? It's a good question, imo. One that I don't have a definitive answer for (at least not one that would be acceptable at PF, since it would involve a very uncomfortable truth) -- I'll just say that I'm pretty sure that it could be prevented.

Anyway, yes, I agree with you -- let's modify some of these idiotic drug laws.
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 Quote by ThomasT They mostly go to the public housing projects, I think. Which are located some distance away from the revitalized/gentrified areas. They're not just put out on the street, afaik. They have access to various benefits which enable them to get affordable long-term shelter. And these places could be very nice places to live, with a bit of effort. But, inevitably, the public housing projects become infested with drug-selling violent gangs -- and I suppose that a sort of feeling of resignation and hopelessness overcomes the good people who live there. It's quite sad really. I've seen cities spend millions on making nice places for poor people to live, only to have them degenerate into squalid and physically run down centers of prostitution and drug dealing soon after. One might ask, gee, why don't the police do something about this? It's a good question, imo. One that I don't have a definitive answer for -- except that I'm pretty sure that it could be prevented. Anyway, yes, I agree with you -- let's modify some of these idiotic drug laws.
Because they are illegal, most drugs are worth more than gold, by weight. It doesn't matter how nice the neighborhood might be, if the option is to make $400 a week by working your butt off, or$1000 or $4000 a week while getting high all day, it's no surprise that many choose the latter. The problem is that the cops ARE doing something about it. Change the laws and there is no economic driver. The same is true of the Mexican cartels and a lot of the border problems. Back when William F Buckley first started pushing the idea of legalization, I thought he was nuts. Then he started to win me over with the economics, States rights, the right of choice, and so on. But only in retrospect do I see that the laws are really the root of much of the drug problem. They prevent constructive, positive, humane solutions that save lives, rather than destroying them and filling the prisons. They are to a highly significant degree what funds and motivates much of the gang violence in the cities. And they are what motivates the gangs to expand into small cities and now rural communities. It's a business. MS-13 probably wouldn't exist today were it not for the war on drugs. P: 1,414  Quote by Ivan Seeking Because they are illegal, most drugs are worth more than gold, by weight. Actually, marijuana costs considerably less than gold. Cocaine about the same. And crack considerably more. Then there's meth, crystal meth, and heroine, p-dope, etc. All of which, I assume (because I didn't feel like looking them up), cost a bit more than gold. These are, I assume, the primary 'street' drugs. So, for the most part, it seems that your statement is correct.  Quote by Ivan Seeking It doesn't matter how nice the neighborhood might be, if the option is to make$400 a week by working your butt off, or $1000 or$4000 a week while getting high all day, it's no surprise that many choose the latter.
But from my reading, that's not the option. According to what I've read, and anecdotal accounts, the average street dealer makes probably less than $400 dollars a week, and nobody but a few higher up people in any organization make anything approaching$1000 a week.

So, the option seems to be working a legal job for about $300 a week, or working an illegal job with the risk of going to prison for a few years for about$300 a week.

Thus, I don't think it's the money that keeps most of the people involved in the business of selling drugs on the streets in that business. Maybe it's the promise of much better money. Maybe it's an infatuation with the gangsta thang. Maybe it's the fact that the work is 'off the grid' and to a certain extent a sort of self employment. But it's definitely not the money, because most of them don't make very much money at all.

 Quote by Ivan Seeking The problem is that the cops ARE doing something about it.
Why would the cops doing something about it be a problem? I'm not saying that the cops are doing nothing about it, but I did suggest that I think that much, maybe all, of the problems of public housing projects are preventable. Let's just leave it at that, because there's no way I can back up what I'm saying without getting into trouble at PF.

 Quote by Ivan Seeking Change the laws and there is no economic driver. The same is true of the Mexican cartels and a lot of the border problems.
I absolutely agree.

 Quote by Ivan Seeking Back when William F Buckley first started pushing the idea of legalization, I thought he was nuts. Then he started to win me over with the economics, States rights, the right of choice, and so on. But only in retrospect do I see that the laws are really the root of much of the drug problem. They prevent constructive, positive, humane solutions that save lives, rather than destroying them and filling the prisons. They are to a highly significant degree what funds and motivates much of the gang violence in the cities. And they are what motivates the gangs to expand into small cities and now rural communities. It's a business. MS-13 probably wouldn't exist today were it not for the war on drugs.
Again, I agree.

Uh oh. We better get back on topic. (Anyway, you've made your point rather well I think.) Remember, Big Brother/Sister is watching.
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 Quote by ThomasT Actually, marijuana costs considerably less than gold. Cocaine about the same. And crack considerably more. Then there's meth, crystal meth, and heroine, p-dope, etc. All of which, I assume (because I didn't feel like looking them up), cost a bit more than gold. These are, I assume, the primary 'street' drugs. So, for the most part, it seems that your statement is correct.
Also, ectasy, LSD, PCP, heroin...

 But from my reading, that's not the option. According to what I've read, and anecdotal accounts, the average street dealer makes probably less than $400 dollars a week, and nobody but a few higher up people in any organization make anything approaching$1000 a week.
What are they calling a "street dealer"? Does this include every ten year old and junkie? It's like any job. You have to work your way up. And many dealers are also users, so they smoke, snort, and shoot their profits. And also depends on their role. Consider pot. The guy selling it isn't the one making the money, it's the guy growing it that makes the real bucks. They then recruit people to sell for them. In turn, the recruits hope to achieve top dog one day.

 So, the option seems to be working a legal job for about $300 a week, or working an illegal job with the risk of going to prison for a few years for about$300 a week.
Even if that were true, which it's not, the perception and expectation is all that matters.

 Thus, I don't think it's the money that keeps most of the people involved in the business of selling drugs on the streets in that business. Maybe it's the promise of much better money. Maybe it's an infatuation with the gangsta thang. Maybe it's the fact that the work is 'off the grid' and to a certain extent a sort of self employment. But it's definitely not the money, because most of them don't make very much money at all.
You can't limit an entire enterprise to the lowly street dealer. It is much bigger than that. Do you really think the Mexican mafia is working for $300 a week? Ten year old kids in LA are probably making that much.  Emeritus Sci Advisor PF Gold P: 12,498 Why do gangs fight turf wars? For control of the territory for drug dealing - the money.  P: 66 I'm sure you can make a lot more than 300 a week, even if you're a lower tier dealer and you don't need to work as hard as a normal job. Sure, you may get shot, arrested...but you can carry guns, use your own product and get "street cred" These criminals hate the idea of having a normal job working at a supermarket or something like that. P: 1,414  Quote by Ivan Seeking What are they calling a "street dealer"? The actual point of sale people. The people selling whatever in single packets/doses.  Quote by Ivan Seeking The guy selling it isn't the one making the money ... That's what I said. Let's say a kid buys 30 packets of whatever at, say,$6 a packet. Then he sells them for $10 a packet. So he nets$120 per every 30 packets he sells of whatever he's selling. If the selling areas are as jammed with sellers as I'm guessing they are, then the kid will be lucky to unload, say, 10 to 15 packets per day.

 Quote by Ivan Seeking You can't limit an entire enterprise to the lowly street dealer. It is much bigger than that.
I agree. I said that most of the people involved (ie., the street dealers) don't make much money -- about minimum wage on average (I'll try to find that study. It was interesting. I would have thought that the street dealers make a lot more, but apparently they don't.). Of course, the more hours they work, the more money they'll make.

The people who make the big money are a distinct minority in the scheme of things. As you noted ... the growers, distributors, wholesalers.

 Quote by Ivan Seeking Do you really think the Mexican mafia is working for \$300 a week? Ten year old kids in LA are probably making that much.
I would guess that most of the people in the Mexican mafia don't make much money. With a distinct few at the very top being quite rich.
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