The evolution of a neighborhood

  • #1
Ivan Seeking
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When I was very young, North Long Beach, Ca., was a very nice, very clean, very safe, very calm, completely white, middle-class suburb of Los Angeles. In the late 1960s and early ‘70s it began to deteriorate as slums in SW Los Angeles expanded and neighboring communities turned into slums. Then came forced bussing. We had kids from areas like Compton and Watts being bussed into our local schools as a part of an effort to integrate the school systems. The problem was that along with the regular black and Mexican students, along came the gangs, and the guns, and the drugs. By the time we left the area it was really quite insane. It got to the point that I feared for my life just walking back and forth from school. My best friend was attacked by a gang and refused to ever go back to school. And they nearly killed him. Had he not managed to slip out of his jacket and run, they would have. Other people were getting shot or stabbed fairly regularly. The classrooms were nuts. The campus was nuts. Eventually I started getting drunk and not going to school at all most days. I had figured out how to beat the attendance system so no one knew for quite some time that as a rule, I was no longer attending school. When I finally got caught, my parents said ENOUGH! and we left the area [thank God!].

Over the years things got worse in N Long Beach. At its worst, cars were parked in unkempt yards; garbage cans could be seen everywhere, mariachi music blasted through the streets, and drunk, obese welfare recipients sat in chairs in their overgrown yards. For I long time I didn't even visit the area. However, Google street view finally has a current photo of my childhood home. It is amazing to see that the neighborhood looks better than it did when we lived there. All of the really old homes have been rebuilt or replaced. The yards look great. The cars look pretty nice. Even our old house looks great! It was really quite a shock to see. It seems that over the last 40 years, the neighborhood has run full cycle. The only difference, I suspect, is that unlike when I was a child, the area is no longer Lilly white.

Btw, a year after leaving the area, I was back on the honor roll and getting As.
 
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  • #2
this topic is more suited for SF than PF
 
  • #3
Ivan Seeking
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this topic is more suited for SF than PF
What is SF, and what are you talking about?
 
  • #4
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That's a really great story, honestly, it kind of touched me a bit. I feel bad that you had to endure those things as a child, and it makes me a little sad to think about all the children today that are living in similar places. I hear Oakland and Detroit are just awful.
 
  • #5
Ivan Seeking
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That's a really great story, honestly, it kind of touched me a bit. I feel bad that you had to endure those things as a child, and it makes me a little sad to think about all the children today that are living in similar places. I hear Oakland and Detroit are just awful.
It was quite a delight to see the place looking so good.

One little adder of interest. When I was ditching HS, Snoop Dog was growing up right across the street doing little kiddie drug deals with his Hot Wheels and Tonka trucks. Of course I didn't know it then as he was just a little kid, but he lived in the same apartment complex as a good friend of mine.
 
  • #6
i've always lived in neighborhood with diversity, and never had problems with other ethnic groups. OP seems to indicate that your neighborhood going bad because certain ethnic ppl moving in, to me it's more about socio-economic and income difference than ethnicity.

SF stands for stormfront.org, a white supremacist website
 
  • #7
Ivan Seeking
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i've always lived in neighborhood with diversity, and never had problems with other ethnic groups. OP seems to indicate that your neighborhood going bad because certain ethnic ppl moving in, to me it's more about socio-economic and income difference than ethnicity.

SF stands for stormfront.org, a white supremacist website
You are way off base and completely wrong. I am telling you exactly what happened. If you think that makes me a racist, that's your problem.

Note that I specifically mention that the revitalized neighborhood of today is surely not white.
 
  • #8
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i've always lived in neighborhood with diversity, and never had problems with other ethnic groups. OP seems to indicate that your neighborhood going bad because certain ethnic ppl moving in, to me it's more about socio-economic and income difference than ethnicity.

SF stands for removing, a white supremacist website
No, he doesn't seem to be suggesting that, I cannot see anywhere he attempted to point out the causes. It just seems more of an observation and that's all to it.

I would agree with KingNothing that it's a great story!
 
  • #9
never mind

maybe i'm overreacted,

OP did indicate that neighborhood was revitalized again by other ppl. I didn't intend to be mean or blunt labeling, it just seems odd see a post like this appearing on PF forum. a personal blog seems to be more proper.
 
  • #10
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When I was very young, North Long Beach, Ca., was a very nice, very clean, very safe, very calm, completely white, middle-class suburb of Los Angeles. In the late 1960s and early ‘70s it began to deteriorate as slums in SW Los Angeles expanded and neighboring communities turned into slums. Then came forced bussing. We had kids from areas like Compton and Watts being bussed into our local schools as a part of an effort to integrate the school systems. The problem was that along with the regular black and Mexican students, along came the gangs, and the guns, and the drugs. By the time we left the area it was really quite insane. It got to the point that I feared for my life just walking back and forth from school. My best friend was attacked by a gang and refused to ever go back to school. And they nearly killed him. Had he not managed to slip out of his jacket and run, they would have. Other people were getting shot or stabbed fairly regularly. The classrooms were nuts. The campus was nuts. Eventually I started getting drunk and not going to school at all most days. I had figured out how to beat the attendance system so no one knew for quite some time that as a rule, I was no longer attending school. When I finally got caught, my parents said ENOUGH! and we left the area [thank God!].

Over the years things got worse in N Long Beach. At its worst, cars were parked in unkempt yards; garbage cans could be seen everywhere, mariachi music blasted through the streets, and drunk, obese welfare recipients sat in chairs in their overgrown yards. For I long time I didn't even visit the area. However, Google street view finally has a current photo of my childhood home. It is amazing to see that the neighborhood looks better than it did when we lived there. All of the really old homes have been rebuilt or replaced. The yards look great. The cars look pretty nice. Even our old house looks great! It was really quite a shock to see. It seems that over the last 40 years, the neighborhood has run full cycle. The only difference, I suspect, is that unlike when I was a child, the area is no longer Lilly white.

Btw, a year after leaving the area, I was back on the honor roll and getting As.
My best friend growing up was a refugee from the L.A. of Watt's Riots fame. His father packed the family up and hustled them out of dodge to the sticks of NH. They came from Anaheim. The Dad was terrified the whole area was going down in a race war.
 
  • #11
Ivan Seeking
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My best friend growing up was a refugee from the L.A. of Watt's Riots fame. His father packed the family up and hustled them out of dodge to the sticks of NH. They came from Anaheim. The Dad was terrified the whole area was going down in a race war.
The Watts Riots were probabaly the first warning of things to come.

The SLA [Patty Hearst] shootout was right down the road from us. In a way it was all quite exciting but the place was going down fast.

One day a SWAT team attacked a neighbors home. He had gotten drunk and, though as it turned out he had a license to own the weapon, he didn't have a license to go out and shoot it at his daughter's boyfriend's car with a machine gun. :rofl:
 
  • #12
Ivan Seeking
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never mind

maybe i'm overreacted,

OP did indicate that neighborhood was revitalized again by other ppl. I didn't intend to be mean or blunt labeling, it just seems odd see a post like this appearing on PF forum. a personal blog seems to be more proper.
I was only on the staff for 8 years, how would I know what's appropriate? This is really more about poverty, not race. It wasn't like the white kids were immune to its effects - esp me! I stayed drunk for a year, remember? In less about 18 months, I went from being a Catholic school kid who got great grades and had never really done anything wrong, to, at my worst, downing a half-pint of 151 for lunch every day. This was before I could drive. In fact, I actually took my driving test drunk.

I remember this one white kid that would sit in class and carve, and then ink tattoos onto his arm with a knife and pen.
 
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  • #13
Ivan Seeking
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It is also notable the Latino gangs in that area evolved into what we know today as MS-13. A good number of those busses were coming from the heart of the latino gangland. I think they took advantage of the bussing in order to expand their domain for drug dealing.
 
  • #14
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i've always lived in neighborhood with diversity, and never had problems with other ethnic groups. OP seems to indicate that your neighborhood going bad because certain ethnic ppl moving in, to me it's more about socio-economic and income difference than ethnicity.

SF stands for stormfront.org, a white supremacist website
I live in a neighborhood where I, as a white person, am a minority. I don't have any problems here because it's not a gang ridden slum like the one that encroached on Ivan's neighborhood. It's just a working class neighborhood where everyone else is a different race than me. If there were gangs and violence and such, I couldn't possibly live here.
 
  • #15
Drakkith
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I'm from Texas and once took a trip with a buddy of mine up to Ohio where we went to a theme park, Cedar Point I think. I was kind of shocked to see almost exclusively white people there! It was almost frightening lol. In a "this is wierd cuz I'm not used to it way".
 
  • #16
Ivan Seeking
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I'm from Texas and once took a trip with a buddy of mine up to Ohio where we went to a theme park, Cedar Point I think. I was kind of shocked to see almost exclusively white people there! It was almost frightening lol. In a "this is wierd cuz I'm not used to it way".
Though we did leave the area completly and headed to Northern California, I returned shortly after graduating from HS [no work up North]. From there I, and eventually, my wife, lived in culturally and ethnically diverse neighborhoods. In fact, before getting married, I had a black roommate, and then a Puerto Rican roommate. I also had a serious relationship with a Mexican girl. So this definitely isn't about race.

When my wife and i moved to Oregon over a decade later, I had the same reaction that you did. But it didn't really hit me until I flew back down for a visit. As I walked through the airport, I actually felt this rush when I saw people of color.

One caveat: My best childhood friend was actually Mexican, but he was of Spanish, not Inca or Aztec descent, hence by the norms of the day, white. Because of that and the friendships that followed, the Latino culture was a big part of my life. I really missed it.

There was a time when I woke up to Freddy Fender music, and chorizo for breakfast.
 
  • #17
Ivan Seeking
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I do have to add one more thought. I blame this entire experience on the drug laws. This is what drives and funds the gangs.

It isn't about the drugs, it's about the money! Take a good look at MS-13 now. Look at the results.
 
  • #18
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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.
 
  • #19
turbo
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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.
 
  • #20
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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.
 
  • #21
Ivan Seeking
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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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  • #22
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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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  • #23
Ivan Seeking
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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.
 
  • #24
Ivan Seeking
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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.
 
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  • #25
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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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