Los Angeles draws in tourists like flies to rotten bologna. Offering many attractions of mass appeal, and the chance of earning bragging rights by spotting a celebrity or two, it draws in an estimated 46-million visitors per year. They go there for the beaches, to window shop on Rodeo Drive, to put their hands in the prints at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, to tour NBC Studios, do some fine dining, and just to see what all the hoopla is about.
It isn’t uncommon for a tourist, and we are all guilty, to get so caught up with gawking they lose total track of where they are. This is when their vain attempts at navigating back to their starting location often get them in trouble. They zig into less than desirable neighborhoods receiving the ‘what are you doing here look’ instead of zagging their way back to safety and less nervous perspiration.
While no one can guarantee you won’t absentmindedly end up in one of L.A.’s alternate universes, maybe knowing which ‘hoods’ to avoid will surface as an alert should you find yourself steering into one them.
1 Fashion District
The fashion district averages 50 criminal activities per month, edging out all bordering and nearby communities, giving it the highest crime rate in the state. The average national crime rate states 2,837 out of 100,000 people will fall victim to a crime, 445 of those being violent. The average for the fashion district is 4,640 in 100,000 with more than double the national average of violent crimes at 1,045. The odds aren’t in any visitors favor of not falling victim, but they go down considerably if the visitor is snapping a Nikon and pointing at things.
Despite ongoing reports of horrid conditions and low wages running rampant throughout the fashion districts sweatshops, the practice has not changed. As a result, it’s impossible for manufacturers to attract creme-de-la-creme employees and it’s customary for employees to live as close to work as they can since many can’t afford a car on the pittance they’re paid. As the districts income demographics declined, crime rose. Its new residents struggled to get by, and still do. Reality took its toll.
Still. A person can find some extraordinary deals on all styles of clothing, to include designer fashions. Shoppers still comb through the many shops and boutiques daily, but only when the sun is out and with one eye peeled. And usually not alone.
2 Skid Row/Wholesale District
As a visitor to Los Angeles, unless you’re working on a major documentary, stay away from Skid Row. It’s safer than the fashion district with only 4,355 in 100,000 being accosted, plundered, or left for dead, but the odds of falling victim are still not in anyone’s favor. If you’ve been to Las Vegas and returned home with less money than you left with, don’t try your luck. Nine-hundred-eighty-one of those crimes are violent.
Fish and produce wholesalers dominate the district so there isn’t much of interest to see unless you’re into fish guts or bananas. This is also where a large consolidation of homeless shelters, mission houses, drop-in shelters, food banks, and savers of souls can be found. Skid Row bears true to what its name has always implied in the minds of most.
The area is making strides to redefine itself as a haven for hipsters, but until it happens, if it happens, you’re odds of survival are less than stumbling alone down a darkened alleyway in downtown Tijuana at midnight. ‘Nuff said.
With 5,100 out of 100,000 being victimized by crime, and 1,148 of those crimes being violent, why would anyone purposely wander into Watts?
Much of the violence in Watts is gang-related and is fueled by rival members of the Bloods and the Crips. But rioting and violence are nothing new in Watts considering the turmoil of the 1960’s which saw homes being burned and businesses being looted. During this time the notorious Black Panthers ruled the roost. As the Panthers began to disseminate it paved the way for new gangs who had been lurking in the shadows.
Community efforts are consistently being made to rid the area of its violence but thus far there has been little success. Bullet-riddled homes from drive-by shootings are commonplace, and just driving through Watts would be to place your safety in grave jeopardy. Don’t do it.
There are plenty of interesting things to see and do in L.A., but as with many major cities, they aren’t downtown. The crime rate per capita is less than the other areas mentioned but they still aren’t good. Out of 100,000 people, 3,863 will have bad things happen to them, with 863 of those crimes being violent.
Downtown L.A. experiences a heavy narcotics trade which lends itself to violent activity. More cops have been assigned to foot beats in efforts to control the downtown drug epidemic but thus far this has done nothing to reduce the crime statistics.
The downtown area offers good shopping and some great restaurants but common sense caution should be exercised at all times. Don’t park in unlit areas. Stay on populated streets and don’t go wandering off the beaten path.
There is a coalition of 1,700 businesses striving to restore the downtown area to its former glory but it’s going to take time, and thus far that time has not arrived.
5 Boyle Heights
Just to the east of downtown, Boyle Heights is pretty rough with 4,483 people out of the Heights population of 100,000 being involved in some type of crime, and 1,014 of those being of violent nature.
Drive-by shootings, robberies, vandalism, deadly street battles and drugs, plague Boyle heights.
Property values in this area don’t exist. Real estate investors are eyeing the potential for flipping abandoned houses and changing the face of Boyle Heights, but it’ll take a lot more than some pretty houses to straighten out what’s been bad for so long.
Los Angeles is home to some amazing areas which offer visitors a wonderful time in much safer settings than the five which have been highlighted. Don’t hesitate to vacation in L.A., just remain aware of where you turn.