If you don't live in Los Angeles and you think you know what LA's Skid Row is like, think again. Nothing anywhere else in America compares. San Francisco's Tenderloin is tiny. Seattle's once-dreary Skid Row is dotted with galleries and cafes. And the Bowery in New York is now home to the New Museum of Contemporary Art and a sprawling Whole Foods complete with its own craft-beer emporium.
In Downtown LA, however, as many as 54 blocks—between Third Street and Seventh Street, from Alameda to Main—are almost entirely given over to the homeless, the limbless, the drug-addicted, and the mentally ill. Battered tents line the boulevards. Mountains of garbage block the sidewalks. The air smells like urine, feces, and burning crack. And everywhere there are people—dazed, disheveled, disabled; stretched out on lawn chairs or sprawled on the pavement; some scoring heroin from marked tents, others injecting it between their toes in plain sight.
LA's Skid Row is a systemic, festering problem that devastates more Angelenos, day in and day out, than sporadic police shootings ever could. (Andrew Romano/Yahoo News)
Here's a look.