How did Los Angeles’ Skid Row come to be? It depends on who you ask.
The Union Rescue Mission, the charity that’s stationed at the epicenter of last Sunday’s shooting of a Skid Row resident, takes a long view of how the half-mile bubble came to quarter 10,000 homeless people in 2015, even as property rates skyrocket around its perimeter.
The Mission developed in parallel to Skid Row, and can trace its origins to the late 19th century, when the area east of tony Bunker Hill became the domain of brothels and saloons. By 1876, Los Angeles was the final stop on the transcontinental railroad, leading to an early population boom fueled by land speculation.
Then, as now, the city attracted immigrants, and the $10-per-night hotels were chosen by newcomers as a base upon which to build their fortunes. The Union Rescue Mission’s website captures the scope of the problem: “Many people who come to America view it as a place where they can start over with nothing–and frequently end up here with little to no resources.”