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"Let me guess, this is where the poor people live."
Alistair, Dragon Age: Origins, upon entering Dust Town.
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Most cities, wherever they are, gather together people across a large range of incomes and social status. But often, for various reasons, those of similar wealth come to live in the same parts of the city.

This trope is about the poorer end of that scale. Crippling poverty is a day-to-day fact for people living in this type of neighborhood, often leading to both an increase in crime and the residents requiring aid from the government to meet their financial needs. Many residents are homeless, or may lose their home at any time if an accident such as illness or a car breakdown means they can't pay rent (due to having little in savings), and steady, legal work is difficult to find. Many residents may turn to less-than-legal methods of acquiring money by way of theft or sale of illegal goods, or ones that may be legal but frowned upon.

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The phrase originated in the early railroad era. Land is expensive, so the railroad would buy the cheapest land on the outskirts of towns, or would head for industrial areas since the most money is to be made in shipping goods. This would often lead to new homes being built near the train station as it allowed people to commute by train, but the residential properties are not in the industrial area, but on the other side of the tracks. So the wrong side is the industrial, cheap land area.

This development may be unintentional, as urban development can cause this area to become poverty-stricken; or intentional, as people are forced to live in these areas by ethnic Urban Segregation.

This trope can be seen in three major classes:

  • Industrial Slum: This area usually springs up around rapid industrialization of an urban area. Those who work in the factories usually live in this area, barely getting by on a meager living. Deaths from disease and poor working conditions are common, leaving many children without parental support forced to live on the streets or end up in an Orphanage of Fear with no government regulation. The poor here have the choice of either living on the street or working in workhouses. This variant makes this entire trope Older Than Steam.
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  • Modern Ghetto: This variant has similar origins to the Industrial Slum, but is usually promoted by businesses leaving the area and taking their business with them due to the already-existing conditions. Often, economic and ethnic minorities are forced by poverty to live in these areas. Individuals living here are often more likely to receive government aid. Crime often runs rampant, usually in the form of burglary, drug sale, robbery, prostitution, and gang-related violence. Often plays host to broken homes, runaway children, alcoholism and violence. Nearly always has an Inner City School.
  • Enforced Segregation: This variant is enforced by law. Certain individuals, such as those of a certain social group (i.e. race, ethnicity, religion) or political and ideological dissidents may be forced to live in such conditions isolated from the rest of society, and punished if they leave.

Home of many Gangbangers. See also City Noir for a citywide mood, The City Narrows for a fully criminal subdistrict, and Wretched Hive for near-total lawlessness. If there's an inspirational underdog story about a Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits who want to go to a sports meet, they have to make do with Improvised Training. If this place is filled with Fantastic Races, it's a Fantastic Ghetto. It is possible that it is a Close-Knit Community, where the characters support each other against their problems. Rural versions of the trope may exist in the form of a trailer park or a Dying Town. Contrast (the American version of) Suburbia.

Be mindful of any Real Life examples. Just because an area has a large number of minorities or poor people, it does not mean it applies to this trope. And even if it did, not many people would appreciate their home being labeled as such.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime 
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's takes place in Satellite, a blending of the Modern Ghetto type with the ghettos of Nazi Germany.
  • A very literal example in Code Geass, where Zero takes his minions-to-be on a train ride through Tokyo and asks Kallen what she sees out of the windows to her right: "A city of the Britannians. A city of robbers which stands because of our sacrifices." And to her left? "Our city. The husk of a city which was sucked dry by the Britannians." Areas like Saitama and Shinjuku deal with all the problems of any modern ghetto on top of the occasional genocidal purge when The Empire needs to find someone.
  • Fabiola Iglesias from Black Lagoon was born and raised in the barrios of Caracas, Venezuela. In the 2nd episode of the 3rd season, we get an aerial view of Caracas that is very similar to the Code Geass example: a clean, modern city and an overcrowded massive slum are divided by a highway between them.
  • Kaze no Yojimbo take place in a town with an old red brick house side and a side with more modern white houses.
  • Area 88: In manga issues that didn't make it stateside, we learn that Gary "Mac" Macburn grew up in poverty and squalor in Harlem.

    Comic Books 
  • Taken to extremes in Give Me Liberty, where the Chicago housing project of Cabrini-Green is walled in and turned into a virtual prison for the residents.

    Fan Works 

    Film 
  • The Blind Side: The housing projects of Hurt Village, where Michael is from.
  • Akira Kurosawa's Dodes'ka-den explores such a neighborhood in 1970s Tokyo.
  • Metropolis takes it to extremes by sticking its working class on the wrong side of the ground. Their neighborhood is entirely underneath the city proper, as is the machinery they run. The rich live on the upper side and rarely even see the workers they depend upon.
  • The Outsiders: The main characters live in the poorer "rough" side of town, which makes them targets for the richer kids.
  • The Princess and the Frog, literally.
  • Tramp from Lady and the Tramp actually lives on a railroad yard at the edge of the town he and his love interest Lady live in.
  • Literally in Skippy, as the shantytown that Dr. Skinner regards as a public health menace is located on the far side of the railroad tracks. His mischievous son Skippy likes to go play there, much to Dr. Skinner's displeasure.
  • Literally in Salt of the Earth, in which Esperanza notes that while all the Mexican miners' families live in shacks without running water, the white miners living on the other side of the railroad tracks live in better houses with plumbing.
  • In Osmosis Jones, Ozzy mentions that he grew up on "the wrong side of the digestive tract." (Really just an excuse for poop and fart jokes.)
  • Unstable Fables: There's a literal set of tracks serving as a boundary line between the pigs' city and the wolves'.
  • Lady Bird has a literal case, as going to Christine's working-class home requires her wealthy classmates to cross the railway.
  • Z-O-M-B-I-E-S: Zombietown is where all zombies are forced to live. Zed uses the track metaphor during a song early in the movie.
  • Downplayed example in The Polar Express. The last boy to be picked up by the Express lives on the other side of the tracks in a poorer neighborhood.
  • Europe '51: Irene the rich socialite, with a new instinct for do-gooding, is shocked by seeing tenements where families sleep twelve to a room and riverside shacks without electricity or plumbing. She comes home and tells her husband "I've discovered a world I had no idea existed."
  • In the opening sequence of Caddyshack, Danny rides his bike from his working-class home to the ritzy neighborhood of the country club. The transition from lower-middle-class to mansions is marked by an overhead shot of him bicycling through a railroad crossing.
  • In one skit in The Kentucky Fried Movie, when Rex Kramer goes Seeking Danger (by yelling the N-word in the middle of a group of black men), he literally crosses over to the wrong side of the tracks.

    Literature 
  • Both Peaches and Mickey live in such in Gene Stratton-Porter's Michael O'Halloran, though Mickey concedes when Peaches lives with him:
    "If this is slum kids, I like it!" protested Peaches.
    "Well, Sunrise Alley ain't so slummy as where you was, Lily," explained the boy.
  • Self-Made Man Gail Wynand of The Fountainhead was born in Hell's Kitchen.
  • In Discworld, the city of Ankh-Morpork is actually a double one, consisting of "Proud Ankh and pestilent Morpork", separated by the River Ankh. Even within Morpork, there is the Shades, where it is said that even the criminals are afraid to walk the streets. As the series progresses and the setting slowly transitions from Medieval European Fantasy to Gaslamp Fantasy this becomes a bit less true; Ankh is still a very expensive residential district dominated by Old Money, but Morpork is home to a growing middle class and most of the city's manufacturing sector, not to mention the seat of government and Unseen University. The crime rate also starts dropping considerably in the aftermath of Men at Arms once the City Watch get more manpower and a real budget.
  • The Tenderloin of San Francisco is treated this way in Little Brother.
  • The Rookeries are the poorest, but also the largest and most important district of the Colony in Tunnels.
  • The Barnaby Grimes series has the Wasp's Nest, an impoverished, crime-ridden district of the city that all Tick-Tock Lads try to avoid as much as possible. The East Bank is even worse.
  • In the Beka Cooper trilogy, the capital city, Corus, has the Lower City, where the lower classes live. Within it is the Cesspool, where the poorest people live.
  • Annie from Annie on My Mind lives near one of these in 1980s New York, in contrast with her more affluent suburban girlfriend.
  • Tell Me How You Really Feel: Rachel and her father live in a poor section of LA. She's embarrassed to bring Sana over because of their house being dirty inside, making a point of cleaning before she comes in.
  • Star Wars: Lost Stars: Ciena was born to the poorer valley kindred, as First Wavers on Jelucan are often known from living in its valleys.
  • The Constant Gardener by John le Carré has a section set in Regina, Saskatchewan, where the Indians and East Europeans huddle in wretched slums while the wealthy Anglos lord it over them in stately mansions. Anyone who's been to Regina knows how ridiculous this is (about the East Europeans, anyway.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • Lincoln Heights is supposed to the bad neighborhood; in fact, the show spends an entire season telling the viewers how bad it is. But when you look at the neighborhoods it turns out that it's not as bad as we're led to believe. The 2-story, 3-bedroom house that the Suttons live in is HUGE and perfectly suitable for a middle-class family living in Los Angeles, CA. The main problem is the inner-city gangs, which could be controlled by better policing by the Lincoln Heights police as opposed to their lackadaisical approach to policing in that area.
  • The Wire's main setting is the slums of Baltimore, where crime gangs like the Barksdales and the Stanfield Organization reign supreme.
    • The trope is alluded to by name during the mayoral race in season 4 when Carcetti, who has heard from Rawls that Delegate Watkins is having a falling out with the incumbent Mayor Royce, jumps at the opportunity to get Watkins' backing.
  • Santana from Glee claims to be from Lima Heights Adjacent, which apparently is this trope (she even uses the term "on the wrong side of the tracks"), although she also claims that her father is a doctor...
    • It doesn't help that Lima Heights Adjacent does not exist in real life when other Ohio towns — even those that were only mentioned once — have real-world counterparts.
  • A frequently recurring theme in Boy Meets World, to the point where there is an episode literally entitled "Wrong Side of the Tracks." Cory comes from a stable, middle-class two-parent household in a good neighborhood, whereas his best friend Shawn comes from an extremely poor and dysfunctional family living in a trailer park. While this is at times played for laughs, it also comes up frequently in much more serious contexts — the class differences between Cory and Shawn are the subject of multiple disagreements, Shawn struggles with his self-esteem due to the way he believes others view him because of his background, and Shawn at one point has to move in with his teacher because he is suddenly abandoned by both of his parents.
  • Named-dropped in Scrubs to describe the Chicago neighborhood Carla grew up in.
  • Both the British and American versions of Shameless use these places as the setting. The British version takes place in the fictional neighborhood of Chatsworth Estate, a deprived council estate in Stretford, Greater Manchester. The American version takes place in the South Side of Chicago.
  • Downbelow in Babylon 5 - the place where everyone without somewhere nicer to go, goes. It mostly exists because they didn't have time to finish the station before they had need of it. Played for a mixture of horror and comedy in one episode, where Ivanova has to negotiate with an unusually assholish alien from a race that believes in segregating the genetically unworthy...and thinks Downbelow is a brilliant solution to the problem, going so far as to suggest it officially become part of his own race's law. Ivanova is troubled by this turn of events, to say the least.
  • Rural (or semi-rural) version on My Name Is Earl in the form of Camden. Although it has a downtown area, it also has trailer parks, such as the Pimmit Hills Trailer Park where Earl once lived.
  • Daredevil (2015): "The Incident" undid a lot of the gentrification in Hell's Kitchen. Matt and Foggy are able to acquire office space for Nelson & Murdock on the cheap due to it being one of only a few buildings on its block to have escaped major damage in the Incident. Meanwhile, Wilson Fisk has made his rise to power as a crime lord due to skimming on Incident reconstruction contracts.
  • Batwoman (2019): The area where Ryan grew up is a very poor part of Gotham, which we see in the flashbacks to her past.

    Music 
  • Hip-hop and rap originally got their start in poorer inner-city areas. Many artists themselves if we are to believe their music as truth.
  • Similarly, punk originated in the poorer areas of London and New York during The '70s.
  • Brazilian Baile Funk is contemporary music from the ghettos. Many musicians perform free gigs in the Barrio, and the next night, at a club on the other side of the tracks, now charging for tickets.
  • "Rag Doll" by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The girl is from the wrong side of the tracks. The boy loves her anyway.
  • "Dawn" by Frankie Valli and The Four seasons: The boy is from the wrong side of the tracks; he tells the girl to stay with the other boy. Frankly, the song is drowning in Wangst bordering on brain-bleeding territory — the hottest/nicest/most generally awesome girl in town wants him and he's turning her down because she's rich? Or maybe he's just a Jerkass with self-esteem issues.
  • "Leader Of The Pack" by The Shangri-Las ("My parents said he came from the wrong side of town...")
  • "Substitute" by The Who ("I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth - The north side of my town faced east, and the east was facing south...")
  • Parodied by Steel Panther with "Wrong Side of the Tracks (Out in Beverly Hills)". The singer has a mansion the size of a city block, lavish statues, and his name on the side of a plane. But he's considered on the "wrong side of the tracks" because his Trophy Wife threw away his Dokken CDs, he can't figure how to set up Bluetooth to his mansion, and he can't afford a hangar for his plane yet.
  • The Tracks in question are specifically referred to in "Train" by Neo-Progressive Rock band Ark, with the narrator eventually making his way along the tracks rather than across them:
    I was raised surrounded by
    The smell of oil and industry
    Across the tracks houses stood,
    Gardens mocking poverty...

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Hudson City setting for Champions, the Southside in general is the Wrong Side of the Tracks, but this is especially true of the violence-ridden neighborhoods known as Lafayette ("'Fayettenam"), Forsyth and Freetown ... and double-true of the section of Freetown known as "The Numbers" which is a Wretched Hive even by Freetown standards.
  • Shadowrun's Seattle, already a Wretched Hive, has a Wrong Side Of The Tracks called The Barrens. It is divided into Puyallup and Redmond, both of them hellholes.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons's Planescape setting (and by extension, Planescape: Torment), the Hive in Sigil definitely counts. It is poor, run-down, covered in dirt and refuse, and ruled by violent crimie lords.
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse, urban Bone Gnawers inhabit the poor, squalid parts of their cities.

    Theatre 
  • RENT takes place in Alphabet City, a neighbourhood in New York's Lower East Side. A noteworthy depiction, since it portrays people existing in poverty due to economic and social conditions living alongside those who live in poverty due to their unconventional and unprosperous lifestyle choice, with a certain amount of antagonism between the two.

    Video Games 
  • The town of Freejia from Illusion of Gaia is like this. On the rich side, there's flowers and beauty as far as the eye can see. In the back alleys, the poor are kept out of sight, it's dark and dirty, and slavery is commonplace.
  • The slums of Midgar in Final Fantasy VII. The slums are located at the ground level of the city while the towns containing the more well off and wealthy citizens live on plates that are above the slums. The train system is the only thing that allows travel between the two.
  • The Wrong Side of the Tracks on Kingdom of Loathing. It's immediately across the tracks (Which have no trains and don't lead anywhere) from the Right Side of the Tracks.
  • In Ragnarok Online, in Lighthaltzen, there is a literally wrong side of the tracks, with crappy slums, corporate guards, and other suspicious things.
  • Dragon Age:
    • Dust Town, the home of the casteless dwarves, in the dwarven city of Orzammar. Practically enforced by Orzammar's rigid caste system. Most residents resort to crime to survive, and if you pick the Origin that starts there, that's exactly what you're doing.
    • In human cities, elves are forced to live in alienages: walled-off ghettos full of run-down buildings. Even in the beautiful Orlais capital Val Royeaux, its alienage lies in abject squalor. Interestingly, the games note that elves are not legally required to live in the alienage, but those who buy homes elsewhere are often met with virulent racism from the humans.
    • In Dragon Age II, Lowtown qualifies as the Wrong Side Of The Tracks for the city of Kirkwall, being the former slave quarter of the city. As a refugee from Ferelden, this is where the main character is living at the start of Act 1. Darktown — the city's labyrinthine sewer system — might also qualify, but it's closer to being a Wretched Hive. And, of course, Kirkwall has its own alienage as well.
  • In the BioShock franchise, Rapture has at least two: Apollo Square, in the first game, is notable for having housed Fontaine's Home for the Poor, which became Atlas's base of operations later on. Pauper's Drop, in the second, was never even meant to be a part of the city; it was a series of flophouses built underneath the proposed railway for its work crew. It started falling apart even faster than the rest of the city, and by the time you arrive is home to, among other fun places of interest, a train car that apparently fell in through the roof. As Augustus Sinclair observes, "There ain't a side of the tracks more wrong than under 'em." Bonus points for featuring a literal "Skid Row" as one of its sections, though it's hard to say how that part is more of a Skid Row than the rest of it.
  • The city of Rogueport in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door would qualify. The place is filled with thieves and bandits and is considered the lowest of the low in terms of living conditions. Of course, the west side of town is noticeably cleaner and less run-down, but that's probably due to the fact that the west side is run by a wealthy mafia and the east side of Rogueport is run by a not-so-wealthy gang.
    • Flopside in Super Paper Mario could fall under this category too. It's supposed to be the "dark" counterpart of Flipside, so while Flipside is bright and clean with happy residents, Flopside has a darker color scheme and dilapidated buildings, and morbidly depressing locals.
  • Bully has a literal example: in Bullworth, the inner city ghetto New Coventry and the rough blue collar industrial neighborhood Blue Skies Industrial Park are separated from the rich suburb Old Bullworth Vale and the downtown political and commercial district of the town by a railway bridge.
  • The lower sections of the Hierarchical Cities in BlazBlue albeit it has a minor justification — seithr, a poisonous gas/Mana is denser the lower you are to sea level so the richer citizens live in the higher, cleaner sectors while the poor live in the areas closer to pollution. The NOL who run the world have their bases at the peaks of mountains the Hierarchical Cities are established on.
  • London's district of Whitechapel in Sherlock Holmes Versus Jack the Ripper is portrayed as such, full of low lives, drunkards, and disease-infected.
  • The district of Sunrise was this in the Laurentia story arc of Nexus Clash. A world-spanning war and resulting refugee crisis combined with a need for cheap labor led the government of Laurentia to reconsider their previous immigration policy and admit refugees...who found themselves herded into Sunrise with little to no aid and barred from entering most of the rest of the city. The native Laurentian residents of Sunrise were already this trope and were not consulted on this decision.
    • That's only in the backstory. Now that its world is over and Laurentia has been pulled into the titular apocalyptic Nexus, all districts of Laurentia are now equally crammed with human or supernatural enemies who are actively trying to kill you.
  • Cuphead:
    • As mentioned in the beginning, Cuphead and Mugman get to the Devil's Casino, which is apparently in Hell itself, by wandering to the wrong side of the tracks. We later learn that the entrance to the casino is literally on the opposite side of the Phantom Express' tracks.
    • Ribby and Croaks say that they're from "the wrong side of the lily pad."
  • The Saints Row series has the eponymous neighborhood of Stilwaternote : in the original game, it is a dilapidated slum overrun by gangs and homeless squatters, and it also features the Projects 'hoods (Shivington and Sunnyvale Gardens), which are just as poor and crime-infested. Both 'hoods produce their vigilantes-turned-crime-empires: Vice Kings came out of Sunnyvale in the Back Story, while the first game chronicles the rise the Third Street Saints out of the Row. In Saints Row 2, by contrast, only the Projects still qualify for this trope, since the Saints Row is bought wholesale and rebuilt from the ground up into an ultramodern capitalist utopia by the Ultor Mega-Corp (who turn their attention to the Projects next, as it turns out).
  • Deconstructed in Clam Man. Clam Man lives in a very poor part of the city. The buildings are all broken and run down, crime is frequent, and it's implied that many inhabitants of the area are homeless. As it turns out, many people in other parts of the city have complained about how that one area makes the rest of the city look bad, so Mayor King is plotting to demolish the whole area to maintain his PR.
  • Cyberpunk 2077: Night City has two wrong sides of the tracks, conveniently located to the north and to the south of the city center, with both being former corporate pet districts. The Watson district to the north is an Industrial Ghetto, with most of its factories shut down and overrun by gangs since the latest economic downturn, — this is also where the Player Character V lives as a merc, as well as where all of Act I takes place, thanks to the NCPD routinely cordoning the whole district off from the rest of the city. The Pacifica district, meanwhile, is so bad that even the NCPD refused to patrol it, so the mayor eventually declared it an independent town, reducing crime in Night City (on paper) by 3%.
  • In BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, website Reddit is portrayed as a Not-So-Safe Harbor. At first, the place appears to be a classic Port Town, then you discover that those who lacks upvotes are forced to live in the downtrodden, crime-ridden Downvoting Lane located in the back alleys of the city.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • In Worm, prior to the Extermination arc, the city was relatively evenly divided between the prosperous and tourist-friendly Boardwalk and the ghettos of the Docks.
  • RWBY has the Kingdom of Atlas, which is vertically divided. The kingdom's original city of Mantle lies literally in the shadow of its sister city Atlas, which is built on an artificial Floating Continent. Atlas is a beautiful, shining city, home to the Kingdom's Huntsman Academy, military command and the wealthy and elite. Mantle is grubby and neglected, with a sizeable industrial ghetto in the Crater, and decaying defenses against the Grimm.

    Western Animation 
  • A number of The Simpsons episodes have featured the Wrong Side Of The Tracks district in Springfield. In one episode, Bart literally walks past Mr Burns' opulent mansion, across a set of railroad tracks, and into a dilapidated slum. The Simpsons: Hit & Run even has a song called "Wrong Side of the Tracks".
  • Played for laughs in South Park; the town is so small that Kenny is able to live on the wrong side of the tracks and still be next-door neighbors with the other boys.
    • Seen in the episode "Chickenpox", where the boys literally cross train tracks to get to Kenny's house, complete with Cartman singing "In the Ghetto".
  • The Fairly OddParents: In "The Big Scoop", a literal set of tracks serves as a boundary line between the trailer park where Chester McBadbat resides and the land where Chester's well-off friend A.J.'s home is located.
  • Griffonstone, the homeland of the griffons in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic became this after the Idol of Boreas was lost. Once a powerful and rich kingdom, now a rundown place with poorly-constructed houses and nests, unfriendly, surly citizens, and where businesses rip-off customers with impunity. Gilda admits the only reason she stays there is because she needs to make enough money to get out.
  • The Powerpuff Girls: While riding a bicycle from school to home, Mitch crosses a set of tracks and the other side has a trailer park.

    Real Life 

Asian and Middle Eastern Cities

  • The Kowloon Walled City had fame as a Wretched Hive, but actually was more like this. Specially from the mid-Seventies on, when there was a tacit agreement between the mainland authorities (to whom the area ostensibly belonged) and the British, that allowed British police to operate within the Walled City. This radically brought down the crime activity and increased the quality of life, as the utilities could come there as well. (Besides, The Triads and the Tongs considered the place a sort-of base and not a feeding ground, so it wasn't exactly in their interests to cause mayhem.)
  • The squatters/informal settlers' slums found in Manila, Philippines are particularly infamous among Filipinos. They're partly the result of haphazard reconstruction efforts following World War II, poverty, and the mass influx of arrivals from the provinces in the intervening decades (which in turn contributed to the large population growth of the metropolis).
  • Jerusalem has some neighborhoods like this. Nachlaot is a poor neighborhood that's a mix of Yerushalmi, Mizrahi, and Sephardi Jewish enclaves with a liberal sprinkling of students and misfit expats. Violent crime is rare, but petty crime is rampant. Mind, locals aren't usually targeted, what with the proximity to the Machane Yehuda shuk and its influx of tourists being richer and easier pickings. Mea Shearim on the other hand...they aren't fond of tour groups. Women who enter wearing trousers, skirts above the knee, tops cut too low or with sleeves above the elbow will be yelled at and possibly spit on. And if there are noises about drafting Haredi men into the army, they will hold demonstrations where they burn trash cans. Mea Shearim is also home to the virulently anti-Zionist Neturei Karta and Sikrikim. Neturei Karta has been known to attend Holocaust denial events, and the Sikrikim have clashed with nearby Gerrer Hasidim in what police have called a "gang war," taking credit for numerous acts of vandalism and assault.
  • Osaka in Japan has Nishinari-ku, a short distance to the south from the much more upmarket Namba district and almost literally on the other side of a railway line. It is considered the slum of Osaka and the most dangerous place in Japan. It is infamous for multiple rioting incidents, strong Yakuza presence, and the largest Red Light District in Japan. In recent years, it has seen some minor regeneration, in part due to the growth of inexpensive hotels which draw in tourists looking for somewhere to stay while visiting the city.
  • Sanya in Tokyo, Japan officially has not existed since 1966. Historically, it was a dumping ground for craftsmen and undesirables. Today, it is an area of homelessness, itinerant elderly day labourers exploited by the Yakuza and bottom-tier cheap hostels.
  • Jalan Kukoh in Singapore, also called Chin Swee Road, is one of the poorest and most homelessness-prone areas. For added adherence to the trope, it's within walking distance of the swanky Clarke Quay and River Valley Road areas. Granted, what's crappy by Singaporean standards is still better than quite a few other entries on this list.

European Cities

  • Banlieues in France.
  • Parts of London's East End are considered to be on the wrong side, such as Hackney.
  • In the 20th century, Russia was hit with urbanization like a 2x4, jumping from 90% rural to 80% urban in just 50 years or so. During the rapid industrialization of the '30s, a lot of communities arose around the enormous factories, often built in the middle of nowhere or on the outskirts of the existing cities, essentially becoming company towns. Populated mainly by the former peasants torn out of their traditional way of life, these quickly became almost classical Industrial Slums, full of rowdy working youths, Gangbangers (often the very same youths), drunks, etc. When the Soviet Union caved in, some of these "monotowns" and working districts, those whose plant of factory didn't fare all that well, became Modern Ghettos, with poverty and unemployment galore, while those that fared better got even slummier, especially with the influx of cheap immigrant labor.

North American Cities

  • There is an actual neighborhood literally called "Skid Row", the "Meatpacking District", and/or "Tenderloin" in various cities in the U.S. Such older downtown business areas are prone to general poverty, neglect and homelessness more than out-and-out crime and violence. Ironically, Times Square, which borders on Hells Kitchen, and "The Bowery" in downtown Manhattan used to be the Ur-Example of such shuttered small-business districts.
  • Shanty Towns in the Caribbean islands.
  • Caserios in Puerto Rico.
  • In the early twentieth century, the Canadian city of Winnipeg in Manitoba had a district full of poor immigrants that was actually separated from the rest of the city by the train tracks.
  • This is sadly still literally true in many old-fashioned Southern towns, e.g. Memphis, albeit with quaint results (e.g. a fancy golf course guarded by rottweilers directly across the railroad tracks from an Afrocentric bookstore!).
  • East Cleveland, a suburb of Cleveland that has possibly the worst crime in Ohio. Granted, it's hard to find the right side of the tracks in Cleveland nowadays, but East Cleveland has long been notorious for being the worst hellhole in the area.
  • Atlanta's crime rate is above the US national average but has gone down since peaking in 1990. Most of the crime is concentrated in certain neighborhoods in the western and southern parts of the city.
  • Austin, Texas traditionally had Interstate 35 taking the place of the metaphorical tracks, with the east side being seen as the "wrong" side of the tracks (partially due to racism and legalized segregation at the time; the issue is very complicated) with some overlap to the west side for a few blocks; as recently as the 1990s, the famous 6th Street and Red River area on the west side of I-35 was known less for being a haven for live music and bars every eighteen feet and more for being a place you would be reluctant to walk around in after sundown. Today, however, Austin is seen as a very safe city with few violent crimes, and the biggest annoyance most citizens have with the city is its increasing rent costs and frequent traffic throughout the day.
  • Albuquerque's War Zone, an area around Central Avenue between San Mateo and Wyoming Boulevards, is known for its high level of drug-related activity.
  • El Paso Texas has "Angel's Triangle" know by locals as the Devil's Triangle until 1993- a place bordered by US Highway 54 and two streets. The crime rate was so high that the residents voted to rename the area in The '90s in an attempt to shake this trope.
  • Baltimore, Maryland has a very distinctive difference between the beautiful Inner Harbor (tourist district) and the areas surrounding it.
  • In the greater Boston area, you've got Roxbury, Mattapan (known as "Murderpan" to some) and the neighborhood of Mission Hill, so much so that one of the most infamous murder cases in Boston's history not only took place there but was deliberately committed there because of the area's reputation. Somerville ("Slummervile") used to be this before it got gentrified. Head up north to the Merrimack Valley and you have Lawrence and Haverhill; Lowell, while also home to some very rough areas, has been gentrified to some degree and is now far less dangerous than the other two as a whole.
  • Most of Camden County, New Jersey is a safe and affluent place, but the namesake city, Camden, is one of the worst Wretched Hives on the East Coast, with a reputation for miles around as a place one never visits unless one has no choice, because of the crime rate. U.S. Highway 130 is the dividing line between the well-off suburbanites and the crime-ridden city. Even the parts of Pennsauken west of Route 130 are relatively run down compared to the rest of the non-Camden area.
  • The South Side of Chicago is infamous for its high crime rate, particularly where gang activity is concerned. The West Side isn't much better.
  • Detroit is what happens when an entire city becomes this:
    • In the area, anything south of 8 Mile Road(where Detroit begins) is considered this.
      • In fact, the difference is so distinct that one could drive north from a road in Detroit and go from a post-apocalyptic slum to a forested Arcadia with palatial houses in thirty minutes.
      • Specifically, driving north (especially on Telegraph Road) would get you from slums before 8 Mile Road, then going to inner(though old and slightly ill-maintained) suburbs after 8 Mile, better maintained inner suburbs after 12 Mile, larger, much newer suburban houses after Hall Road(20 Mile), and McMansions, country estates, or just farmland after 24 Mile.
  • Houston's murder rate ranks high among the nation's largest cities. It's also one of the nation's largest hubs for human trafficking and is a major drug trafficking center due to its size and proximity to major drug exporting nations.
  • Jacksonville is known for being one of if not the most dangerous cities in Florida. It has long been known as the state's murder capital, and its overall crime rate is higher than the US national average, largely due to crimes concentrated in Northwest Jacksonville.
  • Much of Kansas City's violent crime occurs on the East Side where most of the poorer neighborhoods are. Once you cross Troost Avenue, you'll see why Kansas City has a relatively high FBI ranking in terms of large cities with high crime rates.
  • The Los Angeles River and Interstate 10 divide the relatively upscale neighborhoods from the poorer, dangerous areas to the east and south, respectively.
    • Special attention goes to the Inland Empire, and particularly the I-15 corridor between Temecula and Las Vegas. Gang and drug activity is rampant, and the local economy has never completely recovered from the 2008 housing bubble.
  • Milwaukee's North Side is its highest-crime area, which really says something considering the city ranks above the national average in every type of crime except aggravated assault.
    • The city of Milwaukee in general (minus a few select neighborhoods — the highest-income neighborhoods, naturally) has this reputation to people outside the city, particularly among the affluent suburbs that make up the rest of the county. Locals, however, are quick to remind people that there's more to Milwaukee than its worst attributes.
  • Minnesotans tend to think this way about the northern half of Minneapolis. Technically, there are no tracks involved - the light rail doesn't go past Target Field for a reason. As for the Twin Cities in general, St. Paul is considered to be much rougher than Minneapolis.
  • Monroe, Louisiana has anywhere south of Interstate 20 as a rough boundary between the relatively touristy parts of the city and the parts where one has to walk with more caution than usual.
  • New Orleans has any part of the city outside the more touristy neighborhoods like the French Quarter or Marigny-Bywater.
  • Several New York City neighborhoods in eastern Brooklyn, particularly​ Brownsville and East New York.
  • The island of Oahu in Hawaii has Kalihi, Waipahu, and the entire Waianae Coast (anywhere past Ko Olina). To name a few.
  • North Omaha is the roughest part of the city. Once you cross 72nd Street north of Blondo you’ll see why property values drop.
  • North Philadelphia is the most dangerous part of the city due to poverty, crime, and drug use. This is a literal example as the bad area starts above Girard Avenue, which has one of the trolley lines. West Philly gets increasingly dangerous the further you get from University City (where The University of Pennsylvania is) and doesn't get better until you get to the neighborhoods close to City Line. Southwest Philly also has its share of bad neighborhoods, especially Kingsessing.
  • The Hill District of Pittsburgh, separated from Downtown by Bigelow Boulevard and Interstate 579. Almost half of the Hill District's residents live in poverty, most of the homes and buildings are dilapidated, and drug-related crime is rampant. That said, the areas closest to Downtown in both are slowly gentrifying, though most areas remain best avoided.
  • Southeast San Diego is the worst part of the city, being consistently responsible for half the city's homicides.
  • Oakland and Richmond, California are considered this to San Francisco. However, most of what fits the bill is the southeast end called "East Oakland". Only the airport and Coliseum aren't considered dangerous. Oakland's downtown has been gentrifying as hipsters flee the astronomical rents across the bay. Similarly, the affluent neighborhood of Point Richmond has a small-town neighboorhood feel despite being located near a high-crime area.
    • San Francisco itself has a seedy, former military neighborhood called Hunters Point, which has one of the highest murder rates in the state and maybe even nation.
  • St. Louis has anywhere north of Delmar Boulevard.
  • Most of the eastern half of Washington, D.C., primarily the area east of the Anacostia River, especially in the Southeast Quadrant (which is defined as south of East Capitol Street and east of South Capitol Street).

South American Cities

  • Barrios and the legendary Favelas of Brazil.
  • Chile has the Poblaciones Callampas (Mushroom Towns, so called like that for appearing overnight, just like mushrooms on a garden). Most of those shanty towns are located just outside the big cities like the country's capital Santiago, usually in empty lots, and lack most modern amenities like drinking water and electricity.


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