Although I live on San Pedro Street, I know a few things about 7th. You’re about to know what I know about 7th and at the end is a simple cost-free way you can help the case I’m about to make. Of primary importance to all this is the soon to be added BIKE LANE coming our way soon!
Although 7th Street might at first glance seem coldly industrial and lacking any obvious charms- I’m here to tell you that it has good bones and some stories to tell behind it’s unassuming walls.
Moving east from Main Street towards Alameda Street (the Skid Row portion, ‘lest on the northern side) let me share just a little of what I know about this Boulevard. Fasten your seat belts- or should I say, tighten up your bicycle helmets…
First stop, Las Familias del Pueblo, a place which pleasingly has some mighty pretty trees out front. Inside is an organization that has been serving garment workers and their children since 1980. Ms. Alice Callaghan is the director here, and she was also the founder of Skid Row Housing Trust. There is a wealth of information about Skid Row’s history that Ms. Callaghan possesses, much of which I have read while researching the neighborhood. This article here, was quite an eye opener for me.
The Madison Hotel is on the left hand side of the above pic. This is one of the few independent Skid Row SROs now left. I stumbled upon an older movie about this hotel narrated by Charles Bukowski, released in 1990, but I think shot much earlier from the looks of the fashion and hair styles.
“The Best Hotel on Skid Row” takes the viewer into the Madison Hotel in Los Angeles, where for about $8.20 a night, 200 loners and losers get a place to sleep — no pets, no hot plates, bath down the hall. This documentary drifts to the bluesy, boozy rhythms of people who exist on pension checks or welfare checks or, in a few cases, paychecks from pickup jobs. Not all are old, but nobody seems ever to have been young. Charles Bukowski, known as the poet of skid row, does the narrating for what he calls “an ode to the fixed-income blues.” The script is hard boiled: “If you can’t pay, you can’t stay.”
Just across from the Madison, is Fire Station no. 9, which by all accounts is deemed to be the busiest fire station in the US. They are responsible for the area called skid row. A few years back, City officials made the fire trucks of Station no. 9 remove the “Skid Row” decals from their doors in an effort to make the area seem more amenable to developers and new downtown loft owners. Personally, I support keeping the Skid Row name on their trucks. I agree with them- it shows local pride and respect for the ‘hood. To learn more about Station no. 9 and their quest to return the name Skid Row to their trucks, click here.
The white sign on the right hand side reads, School on Wheels. Here is just part of their Mission:
The mission of School on Wheels is to enhance educational opportunities for homeless children from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Our goal is to shrink the gaps in their education and provide them with the highest level of education possible. Our program serves as a consistent support system to homeless students at a time of great stress and fear. We bring the message to our students that they are cared about and important.
If you are thinking about volunteering in Skid Row, and have an interest in education or childhood development- this is an organization you want to check out.
Campers Corner is a bar that…I’ll just let you read the yelp reviews for yourself here.
I love these colorful painted grates on the right hand side. Sigh….we need more color like this to lift up the mood. This is Ofishu Tishu, a Used and New Clothing Store which doubles as the Unkal Bean Entertainment Studio. Read about the owner of this place who is also a talented rapper- here.
This Google street view pic, while it does have some trees on the left hand side, clearly shows one of the main problems I have with Skid Row’s streets–LACK OF SEATING for the local population! These gentlemen have taken to sitting on random industrial concrete structures (not sure what these are). My point? Next time you see an image of someone lying down on the sidewalk in Skid Row- before you judge their circumstance- know that we lack benches. I see this as inhumane.
The Ford Hotel was recently renovated, and I think it looks fabulous. Word on the street was that is was a nightmare of epic proportions before being gutted and renoed. Check out the story of it’s transformation here, and watch a video made by some kids who grew up inside the Ford below.
This 1200 block might look like nothing more than two white nondescript buildings from the outside, but you would be wrong to assume there was not a whole lotta’ good stuff happening inside both. To the right, is Inner-City Arts (http://www.inner-cityarts.org/), widely regarded as one of the nation’s most effective arts education providers, and an oasis of learning and creativity. Oh, and did you know a Princess visited here?
And to the left of this picture, the white building with the low-slung arches is the CCEA Check-In Center. The Check-In Center is a place where the homeless can store their possessions when no other options are available.
Click here to learn more about this facility. I have also blogged about this special center- read here. Venice in LA is now taking cues from what the CCEA has done over here in a new homeless storage program they recently begun by the beach- read more here.
Next up we have a custom wheel emporium in Skid Row called 7th Exotic Wheels. Fancy! I checked it out- too fancy for my old beat-up Honda Civic ’cause I don’t floss like that- but we are happy to have this company in our neighborhood. They cleaned up the building something spectacular. See story of this company here.
Ok- now we are almost to Alameda Street and coming up on the end of the ride.
I just like this above building. It speaks to me- I like the script of the signs. It sits across the street from American Apparel.
Here you can see the enormous and hulking industrial buildings to the right side of the pic. American Appeal is at the corner-(shout out to them, because I work in the garment industry as a Patternmaker). This company is doing right by it’s workers- sewers make well over minimum wadge and have good benefits. Also, American Apparel garments are made in LA-lots to love about this company.
Word came about 6 months ago that this complex might get an upgrade, though nothing has been confirmed yet. Below is a rendering of what is proposed. Read more about this project here.
So here we are at the end of our journey. You might have noticed that, yes- there are some trees along 7th Street- it’s true, but there is also a lot of blight still, and not nearly enough living green things or shade trees, considering the large population that lives and works in the district. And, I think its safe to say that no focused beautification efforts have been considered or attempted yet for 7th Street. Our BID, the CCEA does a fantastic job keeping the place safe and clean during business hours M-Sat. (daytime). The nighttime is when things can get iffy.
Crime has been constant not just on 7th St- but in all of Skid Row- for decades. Here is just a brief rundown of terrible things that have happened on 7th over the past few years…
53-Year-Old Dead After Skid Row Beating, Stabbing
A 53-year-old man died Wednesday evening after a fatal stabbing at 7th and Ceres.
Man fatally stabbed at downtown L.A. hotel
The two 58-year-old men began yelling at each other about 8:55 p.m. Wednesday at the hotel in the 800 block of East 7th Street, said Officer Cleon Joseph, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Three Arrested in Skid Row Double Murder
Two skid row residents were shot and killed inside the Lamp Lodge on Stanford at 7th Street.
Shooting Near Central Ave/7th St.
According to neighborhood witnesses, a shooting occurred last night in the vicinity of 7th St. and Central
I’m not saying that more trees are going to fix all of Skid Row’s problems, of which we have many. What I am saying is that more trees for the neighborhood is a huge step in the right direction and will improve the quality of life for the area’s residents, workforce and visitors (many of which will be on bikes).
7th Street through Skid Row is already a fascinating Street, (see above)- the bike lane will make it more activated. Trees will increase this quotient even more. All sorts of studies have been done that equate trees and bike lanes with reduced crime and increased health.
Voting starts Tuesday.
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