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Thread: The North, South, East and West Sides of Town

  1. #1

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    The North, South, East and West Sides of Town

    I don't claim to know everything about every metro area in the nation, but I realized a startling coincidence the other day. In nearly every case I can think of, the north and/or west sides of a city or metro area tend to be the more upscale areas, and the south and/or east sides of a city or metro area tend to be either primarily working-class or "economically challenged".

    Metro areas that off the top of my head seem to fit this description:

    Chicago
    Detroit
    Cleveland
    Indianapolis
    Milwaukee
    Washington, DC
    Philadelphia
    Atlanta
    St. Louis

    Others may fit this profile, but I haven't thought it completely through yet. Others may not fit this profile (Los Angeles comes to mind; Orange County is southeast of LA and is not economically challenged).

    What's the reason for this? Is there a human geography reason for this? I know that very generally speaking, land on the East Coast, the Midwest and the South slopes downward from west to east and from north to south, and rivers flow in that direction; could it be that more prosperous communities grow on the upstream parts of rivers, and poorer communties grow on the downstream sides?

    Is this true of your community?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Exception (to this and many "rules"):

    Miami


    But other than that, I agree... in fact when I first moved to Miami I thought it was strange that the south side was "nicer"... for the reasons you state above

  3. #3
    A lot of this is certainly true of Toledo. The east side is definitely predominantly working class, with no large-scale new housing built after 1965 or so. (A township to the east incorporated itself very early to prevent more annexation). It did have some more affluent areas at one time, but those residents are long gone and their houses demolished or cut up into apartments. It is here where all the oil refineries were and a lot of neighborhoods were "downwind" from some of the heavy industrial areas of North Toledo.

    Yet, the east side has historically always had high rates of home ownership as well as ethnic and civic pride and a strong sense of independence (and attending hostility to the way things are run on the other side fo the river.) And I've heard it said that there are a few millionaires in East Toledo but they just don't "show their money"

    The west is the most affluent, but the south is divided between the working class Old South End and them much newer upper middle class areas of the extreme southwest.

    But collectively, even the west and southwest are losing their influence as the landlocked city of Toledo continues to hemorrhage residents to the western suburbs at unprecidented rates.

    The north is definitely working class, with the caveat of having a disproportionately large percentage of renters. (In fact, I heard it once stated that North Toledo was the largest "white ghetto" in the U. S.) But in the extreme north and northwest , the housing stock is in much better shape, with areas like Point Place and Trilby considered middle class.


    See myself in the pouring home
    See the light come over now
    See myself in the pouring rain
    I watch hope come over me

    Here we are now, going to the east side
    I pick up my friends and we start to ride
    Ride all night, we ride all day
    Some may come and some may stay

    Here we are in the pouring home
    I watch the light man fall the comb
    I watch a light move across the screen
    I watch the light come over me

    Here we are now going to the west side
    Weapons in hand as we go for a ride
    Some may come and some may stay
    Watching out for a sunny day where there's

    Love and darkness and my sidearm
    Hey, elan

    Here we are now going to the north side
    I look at my friends as they start to ride
    Ride at night we ride all day
    Looking out for a sunny day

    Here we are now going to the south side
    I pick up my friends and we hope we won't die
    Ride at night, ride through heaven and hell
    Come back and feel so well.


    -Moby - "South Side"
    Last edited by Super Amputee Cat; 29 Mar 2005 at 11:52 PM.

  4. #4
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    Do you mean the North/West sides of the inner city are usually richer, or the North/West sides of the metroplex(suburbs) are richer? because at least in some cities the inner city on the South/East sides are usually poorer but the eastern or southern suburbs are equally as wealthy as the northern and western suburbs.

  5. #5
         
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    One interesting thing about Upstate NY cities/metros. The growth of each major metro is occuring the fastest in the northeast or north suburbs.

    Here is a map I made up. Fastest growing towns are in red, then dark green, then green and the smallest growth is in the light blue. White means there was very little or no growth.




    The run down for Syracuse

    -Syracuse's weathly suburbs are in the east
    -Fastest growing suburbs are in the north
    -least suburban growth is in the south
    -worst part of the city is the southside
    -best part of the city is the north and east sides
    Last edited by bizzo34; 30 Mar 2005 at 1:12 AM.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian the north omaha star's avatar
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    In Omaha, North Omaha (north of Dodge Street, east of 72nd Street) is the 'inner city'. However, it gets 'better' as you go further north and still in city limits. It's working class still but a lot better. The demographics also change. Just stating the facts. The west side (west of 72nd Street) is definitely richer. There's really no east side to speak of since that would be the Missouri River and Iowa. You're on the money for South Omaha.

    Baltimore, the north side is definitely more affluent than any other part of the city. The rest of the city is still pretty working class. It's hard to generalize Baltimore based on your theory. There's pockets of affluence (e.g Bolton Hill) everywhere among large swaths of poverty stricken areas.
    I am recognizing that the voice inside my head
    is urging me to be myself but never follow someone else
    Because opinions are like voices we all have a different kind". --Q-Tip

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    In London...

    ...to a huge extent the East End was poor (it still largely is but with significant gnetrification) and the West end was 'posh' (again, very broadly, there was plenty of 'deprivation' there too). In Rome, however, the poor area was southwest, It hink.
    In Milan, which is a particularly radial city in shape(no nautral waterways or geographic features), it was never that well defined though generally in Italian cities the rich people live downtown and the poor live in the outskirts (obviously not without exception). The expression, in Italian, for this tendency fo wanting to be in the middle of town is: "all'ombra del duomo" (In the shade of the cathedral - almost invariably the defining central feature of most towns).

    In a case of reverse snobbery, real London conckneys were once said to have been born within hearing of the bells of the church in Bow (as in: "I do not know, say the great bells of Bow").

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally posted by the north omaha star
    Baltimore, the north side is definitely more affluent than any other part of the city. The rest of the city is still pretty working class. It's hard to generalize Baltimore based on your theory. There's pockets of affluence (e.g Bolton Hill) everywhere among large swaths of poverty stricken areas.
    I thought Baltimore qualified under this theory, but I've never been to the north side or northern suburbs of Baltimore, only downtown and the nearby neighborhoods.

    Miami has been noted as an exception. Are there others?

  9. #9

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    I'm sure I remember learning in A-Level Geography (about age 17) that there was a theory that in the UK the richer areas were commonly in the south and west of industrial cities.

    This was because (or so the theory goes) the prevailing wind in the UK is from the south west. So the nasty, smelly factories would be built close to the centre of town, near to the river which the city was built on, and the rich factory owners and so on would build their houses away from the smell and noise on the south west sides of the city. The working classes would then build, or have built for them, houses to the north and east where they could receive the full benefit of the smoke and pollution from the factories.
    Last edited by noj; 30 Mar 2005 at 9:51 AM.

  10. #10

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    In my hometown, Fort Wayne, Indiana, the most affluent areas have almost been northeast (Anthony Blvd, Forest Park, St. Joseph Township) and southwest (Foster Park/Old Mill Road, Aboite). Aboite is the "hot spot" now with Jefferson Pointe (don't forget the superfluous "e") shopping center and many, many McMansion subdivisions. Southwest also tends to have more terrain (slightly rolling, wooded hills) versus the pancake flat terrain that dominates northeastern Indiana.

    Edit: My hometown did have a mid-to-late 19th century neighborhood, West Central, west of downtown, that was quite affluent and has seen spotty and incomplete gentrification.

    The San Francisco Bay Area is too complicated and too large to fit into this kind of system. Marin County, north of San Francisco, is pretty universally affluent. But, so are sections of Santa Clara County, areas in the East Bay, etc. The far western edge of San Francisco-and most of the coastline south of SF-are not all that affluent (except for Seacliff in SF). There is a major "problem" with heavy fog, and the building stock is, frankly, dreary 1950s rows and tract homes.
    Last edited by BKM; 30 Mar 2005 at 11:22 AM.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Well, the West Side is the worst part of Chicago.

    And even the North/South side dichotomy is apparently pretty recent. It was only with gentrification that the North Side wasn't looked at as the more decayed part of town, because South Side was commonly associated with neighborhoods like Bridgeport and Beverly, which are pretty suburban and never experienced much decline.

    Of course, prior to, the North Side was the better end of town starting when the Prairie Avenue crowd decamped to the Gold Coast to get away from the factories they owned.

    I think a lot of it has to do with geography. The South Side of Chicago grew quickly because that's where the canal and railroads were located. The railroads were located there because they had to wrap around the lake. So when the industrialists made a mess of the south side, they moved to undeveloped land north of downtown to get away from it.

    It seems to me that many major American cities followed a similar pattern for one reason or another. The east coast cities would have began growing from water's edge (and NYC grew from the southern tip of the island). The Great Lakes cities all would have had rail access from the south-east. West coast cities would have had it from the east (a perfect example of that is San Francisco compared to Oakland). This whole country is orientated towards the east, so you'd expect industry to accumulate there.

    The exceptions are also interesting. FWIU, Philadelphia’s worst area is "North Philly," and you'd expect that Philly would be growing rapidly towards New York (to the north) during the industrial period. Boston, of course, has its worst area to the south, also pointed at NYC.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by pete-rock
    I don't claim to know everything about every metro area in the nation, but I realized a startling coincidence the other day. In nearly every case I can think of, the north and/or west sides of a city or metro area tend to be the more upscale areas, and the south and/or east sides of a city or metro area tend to be either primarily working-class or "economically challenged".
    It is true of Boston to some extent (Chelsea, Revere and Lynn excepted). In Providence, the south and southwest sides are the depressed sections. I would think it had something to do with poor southern migrants arriving by train from the South. The south sides hosted the train stations for railroads originating from southern states, and migrants would settle near the stations when they disembarked. That's why you don't see the same patterns in southern cities, like Atlanta or Miami, where the reverse is true.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    Well, the West Side is the worst part of Chicago.

    And even the North/South side dichotomy is apparently pretty recent. It was only with gentrification that the North Side wasn't looked at as the more decayed part of town, because South Side was commonly associated with neighborhoods like Bridgeport and Beverly, which are pretty suburban and never experienced much decline.

    Of course, prior to, the North Side was the better end of town starting when the Prairie Avenue crowd decamped to the Gold Coast to get away from the factories they owned.

    I think a lot of it has to do with geography. The South Side of Chicago grew quickly because that's where the canal and railroads were located. The railroads were located there because they had to wrap around the lake. So when the industrialists made a mess of the south side, they moved to undeveloped land north of downtown to get away from it.

    It seems to me that many major American cities followed a similar pattern for one reason or another. The east coast cities would have began growing from water's edge (and NYC grew from the southern tip of the island). The Great Lakes cities all would have had rail access from the south-east. West coast cities would have had it from the east (a perfect example of that is San Francisco compared to Oakland). This whole country is orientated towards the east, so you'd expect industry to accumulate there.

    The exceptions are also interesting. FWIU, Philadelphia’s worst area is "North Philly," and you'd expect that Philly would be growing rapidly towards New York (to the north) during the industrial period. Boston, of course, has its worst area to the south, also pointed at NYC.

    In Chicago's case, I was thinking more along the lines of the broader metro area rather than just the city limits. Chicago's western suburbs are generally as affluent as the northwestern and northern suburbs, and more so than the south suburbs.

    Bridgeport is exactly the kind of working-class, "shot-and-a-beer" neighborhood that characterizes many south side neighborhoods; Beverly is an exception to the rule; it is an enclave surrounded by working-class places like suburban Alsip, Blue Island, Evergreen Park and Oak Lawn.

    And if you think more broadly again and consider Northwest Indiana, which is the southeastern part of the Chicago metro area, the theory holds again. Lake County, Indiana does not have the wealth of the rest of the Chicago metro area.

  14. #14
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    It is the opposite for Salt Lake City. The east side is much more affluent than the west side. There really isn't much difference between north and south, except those areas that in the northwest and southwest are generally less affluent than the northeast and southeast areas. The biggest difference is east to west.

    It would be an interesting study to see if there really is any sort of difference in development (west vs east vs south vs north) in cities throughout the country. My guess is that there isn't and that the biggest factor is the geopgraphy of the area. Obviously in coastal areas the closer you get to the ocean, the more expensive land is, so the wealthier the property owners will be. On the west coast, the west side of town would be better off, on the east coast the east side of town would be better off (generally speaking, I am sure there are examples of the opposite being true)

  15. #15
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    The exceptions are also interesting. FWIU, Philadelphia’s worst area is "North Philly," and you'd expect that Philly would be growing rapidly towards New York (to the north) during the industrial period.
    Philadelphia has many "worst areas." Parts of West Philadelphia (the north side), and South Philadelphia (the west side) are just as bad as North Philadelphia. Also, you have Camden ("East Philadelphia") and Chester (south of the city) which are both horribly depressed places. There are some cities that a too far gone for this model to apply, Philadelphia and Detroit are two.

    My recent reading of W.E.B. DuBois's "The Phildelphia Negro" affirms that the south side of Philadelphia (old Seventh Ward) was the city's first slum. No clue as to why it spread mostly to North Philly, but strong ethnic white resistance to poor black migration to South Philly may have been behind it. Also, North Philly and West Philly were growing tremendously during the most active migration periods for African-Americans.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally posted by cololi
    Obviously in coastal areas the closer you get to the ocean, the more expensive land is, so the wealthier the property owners will be. On the west coast, the west side of town would be better off, on the east coast the east side of town would be better off (generally speaking, I am sure there are examples of the opposite being true)
    Except, as noted above, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Because of the cold weather and fog, the coastal areas of the Bay Area are not the wealthiest.

    But, your other comment (geography is destiny) is true: Follow the ridgelines and hills, and you'll generally find the most affleuent areas. (Oakland Hills, Telegraph Hill and Pacific Heights in San Francisco (the latter overlooks San Francisco Bay, not the Pacific Ocean). Rising terrain probably explains Salt Lake City's geoeconomics, too?

    Its interesting how American cities differ from European and many South American cities. La Paz, Blivia, for example, has the bitterly cold, windwept El Alto community above La Paz, with the warmer, more clement and wealthier "Califroni-style" suburbs lower in elevation. This is an extreme, of course.

  17. #17
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    San Antonio meets the characteristics of rich to the north and west with poor to the south and east.

    I've read several reasons for this, including why it happened to start with and why it has continued. The east and south parts of San Antonio tend to have poor water quality, not unhealthy, but not great tasting. Wells were more productive and higher quality to the north and west due to the aquifer. Also, many of San Antonio's early landfills were on the south and east sides, making it less attractive to the rich. Then came the freeways. When I-37 & I-35 came through San Antonio, it virtually amputated the east side from the economicly booming other areas. You can't ignore the aesthetics either. To the north and west was the Texas Hill Country with its RUGGED character and beautiful views stretching for miles. In addition, much of the areas to the south and east were agricultural lands held in families for generations. The low land values and typical agrarian working poor characteristics led to less attractive, poorer performing school districts. Finally, I'll play the race card. The agricultural areas counted on migrant workers (typically Mexican or Latin American) for harvesting. This again hurt the perception of the schools plus there was some underlying racial hostilities between the white and hispanics, though not to the degree you saw in most other cities.

    San Antonio has been trying hard to revive the depressed south and east sides. The new Spurs arena was built on the east side in hopes to spur small business development (hasn't really materialized yet). The real hopes for revival in this part of the city come from the potential for new, higher skill/pay jobs. A new Toyota manufacturing plant is being built on the southeast side that will have somewhere in the neighborhood of 2500 high quality jobs. Efforts are being made to expand the junior colleges in that area to complement the new jobs and make education more accessable. Finally, they are working on getting a Texas A&M satalite campus on that side of town.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  18. #18
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    It seems that the South and West sides of Metro Denver tend to be more affluent than east and north Denver.

    There are pockets of poor and rich on each side however. I did not really notice anything until I went to college and got "ragged" on for attending a certain well-known public High School in south Denver. But as I get more into the built environment and the way cities work, I am noticing more trends that affect my hypothesis.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  19. #19
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by cololi
    Obviously in coastal areas the closer you get to the ocean, the more expensive land is, so the wealthier the property owners will be. On the west coast, the west side of town would be better off, on the east coast the east side of town would be better off (generally speaking, I am sure there are examples of the opposite being true)
    Not true at all in Boston. The coastal areas (Dorchester, South Boston, Revere, Chelsea, Lynn, etc.) have a significant low- and working-class population, while the inland western suburbs near the Massachusetts Turnpike and Route 2 (Brookline, Newton, Wellesley, Natick, Weston, Wayland, Dover, Sherborn, Concord, etc.) are, by far, the wealthiest section of the metropolitan area. Of course, the further you get from the city, the wealthier the coastal areas become (Cohasset, Hingham, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Rockport, Ipswich, Duxbury, etc.). However, there are still low- and working-class enclaves along the distant shorelines (Salem, Gloucester, Plymouth, etc.).

  20. #20

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    What's wrong with metal buildings?

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    Rising terrain probably explains Salt Lake City's geoeconomics, too?
    Absolutely.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BKM
    What's wrong with metal buildings?
    Don't get me started....

    I may have to take some photos from the route of my lunchtime bike ride and show you....
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN
    Don't get me started....

    I may have to take some photos from the route of my lunchtime bike ride and show you....
    Aren't you...inspired...by "Western Metal Archicture" magazine? If you don't get free copies, I would insist that they add you to their mailing list!

  24. #24
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    In fact, in Atlanta there has long time been the prestigious real estate company appropriately named [b]Northside Realty{/b]... serving the prestigious northside of town.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally posted by pete-rock
    I don't claim to know everything about every metro area in the nation, but I realized a startling coincidence the other day. In nearly every case I can think of, the north and/or west sides of a city or metro area tend to be the more upscale areas, and the south and/or east sides of a city or metro area tend to be either primarily working-class or "economically challenged".

    Is this true of your community?
    No.

    The west side of Dayton is the black ghetto, the east side is the poor white ghetto.

    The southside is the upscale mansion & villa district.

    In Louisville:

    West End--> mostly black ghetto

    East End---> upscale wealthy/hipster area

    South End --> somewhat blue collar/middle class.

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