Every town in the multiverse has a part that is something like Ankh-Morpork's Shades. It's usually the oldest part, its lanes faithfully following the original tracks of medieval cows going down to the river, and they have names like the Shambles, the Rookery, Sniggs Alley... Most of Ankh-Morpork is like that in any case. But the Shades is even more so, a sort of black hole of bred-in-the-brickwork lawlessness. Put it like this—even the criminals were afraid to walk the streets. The Watch didn't set foot in it.In the setting of a large sprawling Metropolis, there is always a certain spot that contains the dark side of city life. It will be the place where the police rarely tread and where those who attend to certain unsavory professions rely on their own methods of protection. It will have its own nickname from the locals, it may even be marked out on the official map. Its level of actual malice may vary; it could be a place where the protagonist is in constant danger for each moment that they spend in this dark corner or it could be a rather lively area with an active Black Market that forms an actual market and gamblers, whorers and dealers collect for decadent revelry. The latter is more common when The City Narrows are the Not-So-Safe Harbor district and are thus filled with pirates' and sailors' entertainment in levels that would make Frank Miller blush. It will also manage to be made entirely of back alleys that seem to only back onto more back alleys. It is basically the back alley of the entire city which is what distinguishes it from the Wretched Hive: the Wretched Hive is an entire locale of crime and vice but the City Narrows is the subsection of the city that you can accidentally wander into from the nice side, if you walk too far along the Wrong Side of the Tracks (however, as in the above example of Ankh Morpork, a Wretched Hive may have a Narrows area if the subsection manages to be even worse than the rest). So you can expect plenty of "What's a nice girl like you doing here then?" A subtrope of Wretched Hive and Wrong Side of the Tracks. It is Truth in Television to a degree; that degree being how much you can tell the inhabitants of a real life version of this trope that they live in their city's arse end and not be given a Glasgow Grin.
— Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- The Walled City in Witch Hunter Robin, presumably taking its name from the real world Kowloon Walled City that was used in the Bourne series below.
- The Gray Terminal, a literal compost heap, which lies right next door to the capital City of Goa on Luffy's hometown island of Dawn Island in One Piece.
- Wherever Holyland takes place has this.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, while Satellite is a pretty bad place (in the first season, at least), there's a part of it where even the natives dare not go called the B.A.D. Area, which stands for Barbaric Area after Damage. The site of the Old Momentum Reactor that caused Zero Reverse, the place is dominated by a crater where the old plant used to be, surrounded by ash and rubble. The reactor is still within the crater, it's negative energy now creating a portal to Hell itself. While the Dark Signers made this their headquarters, even hardened residents like Crow were scared of the place.
- The Narrows of Batman's Gotham City also appears in abundance in The Dark Knight Saga.
- Gotham also has Crime Alley, which got the name soon after Bruce Wayne's parents were murdered there.
- And The Cauldron, which is run by the Irish Mob and mostly appears in Hitman. When Gotham was abandoned by the government and fell under gang law, the residents of the Cauldron didn't notice.
- Suicide Slum in Metropolis, from Superman
- The subtly-named Slumville in Midway City, home of Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and the Doom Patrol.
- The Triangle, a hotspot of gang warfare in Green Arrow's Star City
- Hell's Kitchen, NYC, had this reputation in real life; consequently, it serves this purpose in the Marvel Verse.
- Gail Simone wrote a satirical article when Hell's Kitchen started getting gentrified into Clinton; Daredevil runs into Bullseye, who's more interested in getting a latte at Starbucks than fighting.
- Sin City:
- Even as scary as the rest of Basin "Sin" City is, The Projects are the scariest parts. It's so lawless that the whole district is essentially controlled by a tribal society. Marv remembers his old neighborhood fondly.
- While it's technically outside the city limits, The Farm is a place that both cops and criminals try to avoid. It's been rumored to be haunted.
- Less scary, but just as grungy: Old Town, where prostitutes aren't outside the law, they are the law.
- Downtown in Marvel 2099. Which is the whole of old New York. Everybody who's middle class or above live in mile-high towers, ride aircars and never go near ground level if they can avoid it.
- Judge Dredd: Sector 301, dubbed "The Pit", had a reputation as the most crime-ridden area of Mega-City One. It was unofficially being used as a dumping ground for the most incompetent members of the Justice Department, causing a spike in police corruption and ineffectiveness until Dredd was sent in to clean house.
- In Build Your Wings on the Way Down Ed wanders around Canal Street at night, which the worst place in Central. It has the highest in gang violence, prostitution and drug rings. It also has a very active nightlife.
- Old Detroit as portrayed in Robocop.
- Five Points was this in Gangs of New York, as well as in Real Life, in the 19th century.
- The nearly literal "Narrows" quarter of Gotham City in Batman Begins.
- In Star Wars, the underworld of Coruscant, as visited by Anakin and Obi-Wan in Attack of the Clones. One denizen even tries to sell them a Fantastic Drug.
- Either the entire City of Detroit, Michigan, or the bar located on the Barbary Coast in Airplane! which was so bad it was "worse than Detroit," depending on which way you want to take it.
- The Red-Light District in Sin City where the whores run everything and the police won't even drive across the line, they just turn around and go back.
- The Shades of Ankh-Morpork on the Discworld. A classic example: the cops don't go there at all (except for the werewolf), the Seamstresses' Guild keep their girls safe with a couple of ... people and each time a major character enters it's basically just a countdown for their first Random Encounter.
- Even the MILITARY doesn't go there. During Night Watch, while the cavalry try and navigate in the city, Vimes jokes about the Shades, saying that the narrow streets would make it so that the cavalry wouldn't be able to dismount... if it weren't for the fact that their horses would be killed and eaten out from under them.
- According to The Compleat Ankh-Morpork City Guide "the vigilance of the City Watch has rendered this part of Ankh-Morpork far less exciting to walk around than previously", and the criminals even respect Thieves Guild protection, which they didn't in earlier books. It's still noted for traditional street cries like "No, no, no, please, no!", though.
- Star Wars Expanded Universe and Legends:
- The underlevels of Coruscant. The planet is one huge city, so overdeveloped that the lower levels barely ever, often never, see natural sunlight. This drives the property values down and attracts the wrong sort of character (though Palpatine probably tried to shift the blame on non-human immigrants). The X-Wing Series has Gavin Darklighter from Tatooine going to the underlevels of Coruscant and thinking that "if Mos Eisely was considered the armpit of the galaxy, this part of Coruscant could be considered anatomically lower and decidedly less hygienic." In Labyrinth of Evil, Darth Sidious's hideout on Coruscant, seen at the end of Attack of the Clones, is in an abandoned industrial zone called "The Works," not far from the Senate District where most scenes on Coruscant are set. The Works is just as bad topside as it is underneath: rusted, polluted, and filled with vermin, vagrants, criminals, and worse.
- By contrast, the lower levels of Nar Shaddaa (The "Smuggler's Moon") are a sort of inversion. They're considered safer than the higher levels because everyone walks around armed and no one has anything worth stealing.
- Several of Andre Norton's science fiction novels (such as Judgement on Janus, Catseye and Forerunner Foray) have The Dipple, a refugee camp in the planet Korwar's capital city of Tikil. The character who were born there always escape because there is no Happy Ending while you are in it.
- Shan Lantee of Storm Over Warlock also escaped from heavily criminal slums, the Dumps of Tyr.
- Thieves' World, the shared world fantasy series created by Robert Lynn Asprin, has the Maze in the city of Sanctuary.
- In the second novel of The Bourne Series the infamous Walled City of Kowloon plays a major part as a setting and it's wretchedness and the wretchedness of Bourne's old life reflect each other.
- The Wild Ones has Ankle Snap Alley, where a majority of the story takes place. However, despite being a "city," it's just a small alley within a real city, and it just so happens that the Alley is home to a group of thieves, liars, and swindling Funny Animals.
- Chung Kuo has the lowest, "below the Net" levels of the world city.
- In The Wheel of Time, while the west side of the Eldar in Ebou Dar is relatively safe, wandering in the Rahad on the east side in rich clothes is equivalent to suicide. Unless you have a Wise Woman with you.
- In Michael Flynn's novel The January Dancer, the Terran Corner on Jehovah seems to fall into this category, being a ghetto inhabited by the descendants of those expelled from Earth many generations ago.
- Knockturn Alley in the Harry Potter books. It's the place where the stores sell artifacts of doom instead of normal magical artifacts.
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Rogues in the House", the Maze.
- In "The Phoenix on the Sword", the conspirators meet in one.
- Jack Ketch's Warren (or just the Warren) in the Matthew Hawkwood novels. It was almost certainly this in Real Life as well.
- In the Vorkosigan Saga, the Caravanserai in Vorbarr-Sultana long was this trope, until getting cleaned up during and after Aral Vorkosigan's tenure as a Prince-Regent and Prime Minister.
- Such districts pop up in several Honor Harrington novels, despite much of it concentration on a society's upper layers, like the above example.
- Old City in Chicago is a notorious slum which generally corresponds to both flavors of the trope. The Loop is still a lively bohemian area (where you should pay close attention to your wallet's whereabouts though), and even a Soldier Field isn't that bad, but the lower levels are overrun with the murderous hoodlums, junkies and occasional rogue Super Soldier.
- The Spook Duo set their shop in such an area of the Mesan capital of Mendel. Ironically, this works even if their base is a crowded working-class dinernote and with Anton Zilwicki being pretty much the Overt Operative by that point to boot.
- Even the Austin City mentioned to have a couple, despite being on the literally toxic planet of Grayson, where just walking out without your gas mask can give you lead poisoning in minutes.
- The district of Hanaught, Lowgate, in Paul Kelly's 'War Beyond the Veil Series''. Also, to a lesser extent, Dmitrigrad's New Hanaught District.
- King's Landing in A Song of Ice and Fire has Flea Bottom, where you would be better served by not inquiring to hard as to what goes into the bowls of brown.
- The novel A Child of the Jago by Arthur Morrison is set in a fictionalized version of the the Old Nichol district of Victorian London.
- In George Alec Effinger's MarÓd Audran series, the Budayeen is a cross between this and a Red Light District. Tourists who ignore the warnings and decide they want to sample the delights offered by the Budayeen often leave in a body bag.
- L'Étuve, the slum of 18th-century Paris, in Audrey Erskine Lindop's The Way to the Lantern.
- Barnaby Grimes has the Gatling Quays, which are the least pleasant district in the city, and in a permanent state of warfare between twelve gangs who effectively control the area.
- In A Clockwork Orange, Alex lives in the type of place where seeing ten-year-olds raped in the streets is uninteresting and people over thirty don't open their doors after dark, but there seem to be quieter areas where it's actually unusual for Alex to break through the door to bash your head in. That isn't to say the whole city isn't a Wretched Hive - just that Alex lives in an even worse subsection of it. Which explains a lot, actually.
- Robert A. Heinlein's I Will Fear No Evil has parts of the major city where Johann lives that are referred to as an "Abandoned Area" that are so bad that even the police won't go into them with less than a squad, because smaller numbers might never come back, and they are basically areas with no police protection at all, the criminals feed on each other Kilkenny Cats style.
- The Reynard Cycle: The Anthill, Calyx's slum quarter, is a perfect example. It's actually the size of a small city.
- The Witchlands: the city of Lovats has the Cisterns, Absurdly Spacious Sewer exploited by the local criminals and the homeless as meeting spots, warehouses, and even living quarters.
Live Action TV
- Brown Sector, commonly referred to as Downbelow, on Babylon 5 is where those who came to the station for a better life but failed to make it tend to wind up when they lack the funds to return home or go elsewhere. It is also a favored hiding spot for various fugitives or covert operatives.
- Doctor Who:
- The New New York Undercity in the episode "Gridlock," complete with vendors selling mood-altering substance patches.
- "Face the Raven" involves the Doctor's occasional companion Rigsy, an urban graffiti artist, stumbling into secret enclaves of alien life tucked away inside the streets of London.
- Game of Thrones: Flea Bottom is the main slum of King's Landing. It is where Arya survives after escaping the castle, where Joffrey and his entourage are attacked by a mob, and where Margaery visits orphanages as part of her family's public relations campaign. Gendry, Davos, and Karl all reference it as a fundamental part of their lowborn upbringing, with Gendry and Davos even comparing which one of them lived in the worst part and Davos teasing Gendry that his street (all of a few miles closer to the Red Keep) was where the snobs lived compared to Davos's home.
- Smallville: Suicide Slums in Metropolis.
- Played with in the third season of The Wire. Hamsterdam (a legalized drug zone, with all of the unpleasantness you'd think that implies, and a bit more) is made as far away as possible with it still being accessible to street dealers. It's still not far enough so that and old lady doesn't live there, or for the press not to notice.
- Several parts of Honolulu in Magnum, P.I..
- Arrow: The Glades are supposed to be the most dangerous quarter of Starling City, so naturally everyone hangs out there all the time.
- Five Points (again) in Copper.
- The Court of Miracles in The Musketeers, which is ruled by the King of Thieves. So called because when lame and blind beggers return to the Court, they're "miraculously" cured. The Cour des Miracles was a real area in Paris named for that reason, although the series probably exaggerates it a bit.
- The song "Bad Bad Leroy Brown," by Jim Croce describes the south side of Chicago as such. Specifically, it's "The baddest part of town."
- Finnish song "Katupoikien laulu" (Song of Street Kids), which happens "kätkössä Sörkan laitakatujen" (in the shadows of the side streets of Sörkka). "Sörkka", the district Sörnäinen in Helsinki, Finland used to have a sinister reputation in the past. Today it is on its way to gentrification.
- The Redmond Barrens of Seattle, which even have a mall that is one gigantic black market.
- Also the Aurora Warrens in Denver. Nominally part of the UCAS, but in practice a kind of international no-man's land of undesirables. Largely equivalent to the Barrens.
- The Shattergraves of Chicago. It's the wreckage of where the Sears Tower was brought down by a terrorist attack. As the site of a mass-casualty terrorist incident it's loaded with angry ghosts and has become the territory of a massive number of feral ghouls, because they're the only ones the ghosts can't drive out.
- Traveller: many Starports have a "Startown", typically at the area where the Imperial government's jurisdiction ends and the Planetary one begins.
- In Magic: The Gathering, the city plane of Ravnica has the whole undercity, run by the murderous maniacs of Rakdos, the assassins and spies of Dimir, and the Golgari necromancers.
- Ptolus has the Barrens, a lawless slum that even the major crime syndicates leave alone because it's too unruly and has nothing worth stealing or controlling. The Undercity Market is an aversion: it's Beneath the Earth and full of adventurers, but it's mostly for resupplying, and it's successful enough that it has a burgeoning residential area as wellóand being full of heavily-armed adventurers is actually pretty good for keeping things relatively civil and orderly.
- Eberron: Sharn has a fair chunk of the Lower Wards and most of the Depths, with particular attention paid to the Cogs (which double as an industrial sector) and Lower Dura.
- The lower you go in a hive city in Warhammer 40,000, the more it resembles this trope. The lowest levels are home to those even the basest dregs of society don't want such as mutants and rogue psykers.
- In the Planescape campaign setting, the planar city of Sigil has the Hive. It's one big lawless slum where criminals, anarchists, death-worshipers, and demons fight for control. Even Sigil's normally formidable Harmonium guard are too afraid to patrol there. And even the Hive itself has a part that's bad even by its standards, the Slags. This place is in complete ruins, having been torn apart by a Blood War battle that spilled over into the city, there's seismic activity that makes the remaining structures unstable, and a demonic predator called Kadyx hunts the place. No sane resident ever goes there, and few that do come out alive.
- There are plenty of cities in Rocket Age, each with their own narrows, but the most likely place for players to run afoul in is Emancipation's former factory and slave districts, which are full of crime as the city has yet to replace slavery with anything meaningful for the people that were freed. That's ignoring the cities that are literally just narrows, like Freelandia and Maven Haven.
- The crumbling slums of Meiyerditch in Runescape are so labyrinthine that they actually form a mini-Agility obstacle course for players. Expect to see pale, emaciated humans cowering in back alleys, fearful of the Vyrewatch who are raising them like cattle for blood tithes - the player also stands a chance of being tithed if they spend too much time outside with a Vyrewatch nearby.
- The Slums district of Amn in Baldur's Gate II, home base of the Thieves' Guild, full of beggars and yet if you try to rest your party on the streets, the city guard will never fail to stop you.
- The village in Quest for Glory I has a single alley not fully protected against violence by Erana's spell. During the daytime, it's safe and a beggar spends his time there. At night, however... Unfortunately, where you stand, Erana's spell is still active.
- The back alley, a section of the docks (which is pretty bad in itself) of the city of Neverwinter in Neverwinter Nights 2 also the beggars nest from the first game.
- The favela in Modern Warfare 2 in Rio. There's literally an entire army of heavily-armed Brazilian criminals there who do not take well to outsiders. You know you're in a bad place when the only viable way to enter the area and locate the one criminal you're trying to find is to walk in shooting a weapon in the air so you can draw the militia out for a straight fight instead of trying to sneak through and get surrounded.
- The Redmond Barrens feature prominently in Shadowrun Returns.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, Dust Town in Orzammar is regarded as a breeding ground for Casteless, criminals and the outcast members of Dwarven society. There may be a King on the throne of Orzammar, but in Dust Town, it is the Carta that rules with an iron fist.
- The Darktown district of Kirkwall is said to be this in Dragon Age II. In practice, however, Hawke will find the other districts much more dangerous, especially at night, since all the muggers, bandits, and blood magic cults hang out in them.
- In Mass Effect, the worst parts of the Lower Wards on the Citadel are implied to be like this.
- Freeside in Fallout: New Vegas, though it has a less hostile edge than other examples on this page. Sure there are thieves, muggers, drunks, drug dealers and annoying advertisers. But a gang called The Kings and the friendly-anarchists The Followers of The Apocalypse keep the place from going totally to the dogs.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution has the Youzhao District in Lower Hengsha, the hunting grounds for the Harvesters.
- It's possible to build these in Pharaoh through a combination of low-grade housing, high taxes, unemployment, low food, lack of police presence and highly undesirable surroundings like an Industrial Ghetto. If discontmentent is allowed to rise too high, houses start spawning criminals who don't stay in the ghettos, instead homing in on the palace and tax offices to steal your money. However, they only appear on higher difficulties.
- In The Gamer's Alliance, Threshold, Alent's northeastern district, has an ominous reputation and has driven many people who have ventured there insane. The very air, ground, buildings and narrow, labyrinthine and twisting alleys seem to be alive and hostile to any non-native, and the shadows play with trespassers' minds with sometimes fatal consequences. It later turns out that the people living in Threshold are in fact disguised demons whose chaotic powers have warped the district to suit their needs. The horrible experiences which trespassers had turned out to be manifestations of their own inner darkness and emotions which were triggered by the demonic auras in the area.
Javan: The truth is that the only real darkness in this place is the darkness you bring in it yourself. Every sin, every repressed memory, every stray fear and blind rage. Everything people want to ignore about themselves. What's in here was always there, it's just a bit more... insistent in its existence in Threshold.
- The Rape Tunnel. "It actually has it's advantages. Criminals are too afraid to come into the rape tunnel neighborhood, so we're actually pretty secure here."
- Ronin Galaxy, Cecil explains at the beginning of chapter two that the Moritomi Complex seems like an average city until you enter a suspiciously dark alley. Then it turns into a feudal Japanese red-light district.
- In Tales of the Questor, they have their capital city, Sanctuary—- and the "suburb" commonly known as the Tumbledowns, a multi-story shantytown filled with street gangs and other dregs of society....
- Candi Levens has to rescue Maria Sanmarcos from a part of Dirbine where a lot of really bad stuff seems to happen disproportionately. It's a mess of brick buildings many of which do not have clearly-defined reasons to exist.
- Referenced by name here
- In Sunset Grill the part of Kieselburg called Lowtown is this. The city authorities practically admit that Lowtown is run by l'affaires and the legal business that are there pay them protection money. In fact, l'affaires often keeps the peace better then the police do.
- The Glass Scientists utilizes real-life Victorian slum of Bethnal Greene, described as "The city's oily belly, a foul-smelling swamp belching half-digested dreams" where shadows and wickedness abound.
- In Thundercats 2011, young Catfolk Prince Lion-O is introduced sneaking cloaked and hooded into the worst part of Thundera's slums, only to catch the eye of a gang of "Alley Cat" muggers who've just finished beating a hapless Dog. He's there to shop for Lost Technology, or rather, "certain hard-to-find collectibles." in the Black Market, having cultivated a relationship with its proprietor Jorma.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- Trixie goes through an alleyway to find a shop that sells the Alicorn Amulet.
- In Twilights Kingdom Part 1, this is where Tirek begins stealing magic from unicorns.
- Inverted in a lot of real-world cities, where the fact that you can buy old houses extremely cheap makes them prime locations for gentrification. For example, The Lanes in Brighton, a warren of winding roads and crooked houses that is the remnants of the original fishing village, is nowadays full of ridiculously expensive boutiques and restaurants.
- Hitrovka in Imperial-era Moscow. Overlaps with Outlaw Town, since it was an area which was a "safe haven" of sorts for gangsters, escaped convicts and the like. Ironically, it sat right between the bustling Kitai-Gorod business district and several affluent residential neigborhoods in the downtown area, whose inhabitants had to see (and smell) its unsavory character every day, but nobody could do anything about it, so much was the influence of the landowners, who reaped enormous profits from the area. The district was purged clean by Bolsheviks after Red October.
- Now it's Southern Butovo, Tekstilschiki and the Southeastern borough in general, and the entire suburb of Mytischi. (The most crime-ridden district, Golyanovo, has the crime rate but lacks the reputation). Though usually the worst you could expect is to be separated from your cash and cellphone. Lethal muggings are much rarer than they were back then.
- Now there's a popular theory exists that Khitrovka's reputation of a criminal hell-hole was artificially inflated by the leading journalists of the time, such as Vladimir Gilyarovsky, because, well, criminal stories simply sold better. In reality it was something like Kowloon below ó a simple dirt-poor neighborhood where some criminals had set their shop. Another point is that Gilyarosky was a Communist and had used a quarter's reputation (that he himself helped to build) to criticize the Tsarist Government.
- Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong (now a handsome park).
- Kowloon situation was much more complex. While its hard to deny that Triads and Tongs had definitely set shop there, they tended to watch their step, and most of the district's population were simply poor people trying to scrape by. Most of the Walled City's problems stemmed from its weird legal status (theoretically it was a Mainland China enclave within the Hong Kong territory, which prevented the city's utilities and police from operating there), and the fact that it was situated under the approaches to the city's Kai Tak airport, so no highrises could be built there, and people tried to use the available space as efficently as they could. In the end of its life, when agreement with the mainland authorities permitted Hong Kong's services to operate inside the Walled City, the situation there markedly improved, but its reputation was already set in stone and in 1993 it was finally demolished.
- Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, although it's known just as much for its sheer poverty (combined with copious drug addictions) as for being dangerous. This is where serial killer Robert "Willie" Pickton did his hunting, and as such has a reputation for women (especially prostitutes) just... vanishing.
- International Boulevard in Oakland, CA, used to be called East 14th Street until the city changed the name as part of an effort to change its image. It hasn't really worked.
- Several parts of London have been this at various points in its history - Southwark of 500 years ago was famous for its brothels (licensed by the local bishop!) and St. Giles was the place the police would only go en masse.
- The poorest neighbourhoods in Mexico City like "Tepito" tend to be this. These places are where most muggings and drug-lord firefights take place. If you ever come to visit, stay close to downtown and never be outside late at night.
- Skid Road, in central Seattle, was such a place in the early 20th century - the proverbial "Skid Row" having derived from its name. (The neighborhood has since been gentrified and redubbed "Pioneer Square", though it's still not the sort of area one feels comfortable walking around in after dark.)
- The Five Points in 19th-Century New York.
- Hell's Kitchen in New York was a dangerous Irish neighborhood until gentrification began in the 1990's. Before then, varying levels of poverty and violence plagued the area throughout much of its history, even during the 19th Century.
- North Minneapolis, nicknamed Murderapolis.
- Bunker Hill was this during the golden age of Los Angeles (abt. 1917-1963). Not even South Central comes close today.
- The outer half of the VIII. district of Budapest, Hungary. It's suspiciously similar to a jungle - a machete greatly increases your chances to survive.
- The North Praga district of Warsaw, Poland. There's even an old saying "Jedziesz na Pragie, to weź pan lagie" ("If yer goin' to Praga, get a big stick, guv."). Before World War II, Wola was this as well, but it slowly gentrified over the years.
- Chinatown in Boston was this up until recently. At the time (the 1960s-1970s), Chinatown adjoined Boston's Combat Zone, home to porno theaters and prostitutes. It was literally only one block from the Boston Common, the park at the heart of the city. Rising property values, the ability to watch porn at home, and the fact that the Chinese got sick of the bad reputation the area had, all led to its demise. It's now a perfectly nice light-commercial area for the most part, but there are still certain areas that are known for prostitution and drug sales, and some of the scuzzier curio shops and Asian markets still live up to the "if you want it, you can probably find it for sale here" reputation that Chinatown has never quite managed to shake off.
- The "SWATS" (or Zone 4) in Southwest Atlanta, Georgia, so called because it's in Southwest Atlanta, or because the SWAT team is always there. Quite a few rappers are from there, including T.I. and Big Boi.
- "Several parts of Honolulu in Magnum, P.I." up above? The most notorious of these several parts, at least until a wave of clean ups in the early 2000s, was Hotel Street in Chinatown. Long a red-light district catering to certain... desires... of sailors from neighboring Pearl Harbor, the area became very run down and was controlled by the Tongs and other organized crime syndicates, and it was not a place you went to at night if you valued your life, and it was a wise man who avoided it during the day as well. The area has, however, undergone a revitalization that has — mostly — reclaimed the area for decent society.
- East Orange, NJ is a rough place in general, being a former industrial hotbed that later went the way of so many other cities of that sort. Even then, however, a good deal of it isn't too bad if you have some basic street smarts and don't act like you're scared out of your wits. The closer you get to Newark, however, the nastier things get, progressing from "rough" to "lock your doors and don't look at anyone" and all the way to "not even the locals dare tread here, and if you do, all bets are off on how screwed you are". Case in point, March 2009 is the only month Newark has gone without a homicide since the 1960's.
- Certain neighbourhoods of New York City are this. Specifically, the South Bronx and East New York are known for being extremely dangerous.
- North Milwaukee has this reputation, though it could be reasonably argued that its reputation is due to the local media focusing so heavily on a small handful of neighborhoods where this is the case at the expense of many perfectly safe areas
- North-Northwest mostly. The North East side is very yuppie, especially the Northshore suburbs. Center and North Avenue are very dangerous, though
- North and West Philadelphia are both dangerous due to high levels of poverty and crime. A few neighborhoods in Southwest Philadelphia are also dangerous, especially Kingsessing.
- Being the hometown of the Violent Glaswegian, Glasgow naturally has several. Historically, Maryhill and Ruchill were this, but they have vastly improved in recent years. The most notable ones these days are Drumchapel, Easterhouse, Possilpark and Shettleston. Shettleston is notable for having a lower life expectancy than North Korea.
- Oak Cliff and the rampant crime within was one of many reasons Dallas, Texas earned the "Murder Capital of the U.S." several times before a concentrated enforcement effort cleaned up the crime considerably. It's still rather wise to avoid Oak Cliff and some parts of Deep Ellum at night.
- Most of New Orleans counted as this before Katrina hit, but especially the huge Housing Projects, areas so dangerous, even the police wouldn't go there unless they were tugging along a SWAT team. After Katrina, it isn't so bad, but it isn't exactly better either.
- Katrina basically rolled the dice on which areas counted as the Narrows. Some of the worst neighborhoods (Mid-City and many of the housing projects) got much safer due to the overall depopulation. Many outlying neighborhoods (like the already-troubled 9th Ward and New Orleans East) turned into lawless frontiers due to a lack of police manpower.
- The Paris metropolitan area encompasses a number of peripheral towns, the seediest of them located in the northeastern area, colloquially known as the "9-3", home of crumbling Cold War-era housing projects, multi-ethnic populations, massive unemployment, drug traffic, gang violence, riots. Some quarters of Marseille have also had a steamy reputation since the Middle Ages.
- Munich has a few districts traditionally known as the city's narrows. The oldest is the Au ("Valley") on the eastern banks of the river, which was traditionally a piss-poor workers' community with many two-storey houses (a rarity in Munich's mostly-five-storey centre). But in the last few decades, it has slowly transformed into a popular artsy neighbourhood not unlike Soho, with cosmic property prices thanks to the many charming old houses. The Au's most outstanding feature however has always been - and still is - a relic of its more infamous times - the Auer Dult, an annual junk market and Catholic fair - one of the largest of its kind in Europe.
- Then there also is a much more contemporary district with that reputation (commonly referred to as a 'Glasscherbenviertel' - a 'glass shard quarter'), the Hasenbergl ("Hares' Hillock") in the generally poor northern Munich area, which had a very popular poor and immigrant criminal subculture (for one, many German police procedurals loved the area) until the end of the last century. But nowadays, it's also well on its way to gentrification - present-day Munich has the lowest crime statistics of any major German municipality.
- South Side Chicago is often on the rougher side, but a good deal of its reputation is exaggerated... except for Englewood. One of the absolute poorest parts of the city, Englewood's crime rate is unbelievably high even by national standards. Beset with a rapidly dwindling population, universally-failing schools, and widespread unemployment, Englewood has been the focus of numerous revitalization attempts, every single one of which has failed. At this point, it is known as the part of Chicago that only those with a death wish visit.
- The Tondo area of the city of Manila remains one of the poorest and most densely populated areas in the metropolis and stands in stark contrast to the gentrification that the rest of the city and its neighboring metropolises have experienced in the past decade.
- Ferguson, Missouri, made infamous by the 2014 race riots, is ironically one of the safer municipalities in northern Saint Louis. That's not saying it's safe to walk the streets at night, but you're less likely to be hit with stray gunfire in broad daylight in comparison to the nearby Kinloch or Normandy municipalities.
- Sydney, historically, had The Rocks (foundation until the early 20th century), Cabramatta (The '80s until recently) and Sutherland. Nowadays, Fairfield and its accompanying suburbs (Yennora, Guildford, Villawood) are probably the one part of Sydney you should avoid at all costs.
- Mention the Pan Bendito area to residents of Madrid and a lot of them will make an "oh boy" face. Now, Madrid being a fairly safe city, Pan Bendito is not at the level of some other areas listed here; locals will tell you to avoid it if you can and not carry anything valuable if you cannot, but the local latino bands are unpleasant, not psychopathically murderous, and it's not like you need to have a death wish to walk in. Still, it's definitely one of the least desirable places in the city, along with sizable parts of the Usera and Villaverde districts.