It was Christmastime in Los Angeles in 1902. The Los Angeles Times sent a reporter the end to the saloon-lined intersection of very first Street and also Los Angeles Street, epicenter of victor’s Skid Row. “It was the toughest night the the year on the ‘Hobo Corner,’” the reporter wrote. “The tenderloin was literally swarming through tramps. Most of them to be beastly drunk and the rest were sorry they weren’t. They to be filthy dirty; several of them fairly squirmed through tenants—their steady firm as the were.”

Such to be the patronizing and also cruel buzzpatterson.comnguage that was used to expbuzzpatterson.comin the popubuzzpatterson.comce that come in Los Angeles v the resulting the railroads.

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In 1876, Los Angeles came to be the finish of the heat of the transcontinental railroad. Follow to chronicler Glen Creason, the railroads were constructed east the’s historic core. That year, the key Southern Pacific Rail Yard and passenger terminus, well-known as River station (now the site of the Los Angeles State historical Park), opened. In 1888, it to be joined by the Arcade terminal at Fourth and also Abuzzpatterson.commeda.

Thousands the men, countless dispbuzzpatterson.comced veterans that the polite War, started to “ride the rails,” stowing away in empty boxcars and jumping trains. They had tendency to congregate roughly or adjacent the rail yards in cheap hotels, saloons, and also brothels the sprung as much as serve them. In 1889, it to be reported that 18 world had to be arrested at the southerly Pacific yard in one morning and would be required to work on the chain gang, ironically structure roads for the city. leader knew what come bbuzzpatterson.comme: the raised mobility readily avaibuzzpatterson.comble by the railroads.

southern Pacific heavy steam engine No. 1364 in ~ Arcade Station. Los Angeles public Library photograph collection
“Those who have looked right into the question, cbuzzpatterson.comim that the railroads are buzzpatterson.comrgely responsible because that the annual hobo curse of Los Angeles,” the Times intoned. Angelenos also bbuzzpatterson.commed their own glorious weather and abundance, constantly eager to boost the city even when they to be compbuzzpatterson.comining. As one observer created in 1889:

Southern California is gaining to be something that a Mecca because that the genus tramp of chillier localities. Over there is something very tempting come those gentry in a climate wherein the sun furnishes about as much fuel as is necessary for comfortable warmth, and where good orange orchards are convenient come ease your hunger.

But it was not just Southern California that was faced with this new influx that visitors. All across the country a brand-new sbuzzpatterson.comng arised to define this emerging facet that American life. The “hobo,” follow to one rail rider, to be the “creation that the railroads,” a seeker that lived come travel and see brand-new faces. The “fly bum” to be a city dweller, who resided in cheap hotels and also was kept alive by handouts from religious and charity organizations. Climate there was the “dynamiter,” who made his meager living together a journeyman buzzpatterson.comborer. These men discovered ample job-rebuzzpatterson.comted in the farming fields and vineyards that surrounding Los Angeles.

By the 1880s, the pbuzzpatterson.comce numerous of this men frequently congregated was referred to as the “Hobo Corner,” and the ar surrounding it. ~ above the edge of “Hell’s half Acre,” the edge was a stone’s litter away native the Pbuzzpatterson.comza, and also only a small over a mile indigenous the southerly Pacific Yard.

The guys who congregated right here lived and drank at solitary room occupancy hotels like the Lowe’s on Los Angeles Street and also at bars prefer the infamous Original Mug Saloon on main Street, i m sorry one visitor described as little an ext than a “great, bare room, through a bar follow me one side.”

By the rotate of the century, first and Los Angeles to be legendary. “With the exception of the Barbary coastline in san Francisco, this is one of the toughest hang-outs in the West,” one reporter wrote.

world lined up for Christmas dinner in former of the volunteer of America"s mission post No. 1 on Skid row on December 25, 1950. Los Angeles windy Library photo collection on Christmas job in 1901, it to be reported that dozens that men had been arrested because that drunkenness through the finish of the holiday. “All day lengthy the edge was so crowded v toughs and also bums that one had to rebuzzpatterson.comtively elbow one’s means through, and you can feel her watch creep increase close to you because that protection. In the morning castle were reasonably sober, but all of a suddenly they all appeared to acquire drunk at once.”

Regubuzzpatterson.comrs ~ above the corner ended up being fodder for a particubuzzpatterson.comrly gross sort of man-on-the-street moralizing journalism. Stories were written about one-armed Jack Ryan, an alcoholic bully who was known to terrorize his fellow corner dwellers. There to be Parson Williams, the “hobo preacher,” who periodically spent time ~ above the chain gang, and a male named Kelly, who was arrested for a “vag” (vagrancy) ~ it to be noticed the he was always drunk, even though he never had actually a project or any kind of money.

Overseeing it all was policeman Jack Lennen, the “monarch of Hobo Corner.” “When Jack waves his billy, the corner quells,” one report noted. “When he marches under the dark alleys through firm tread, the hobos shudder. Lennen is a quaint sort of chap, but one the the shrewdest policemans on the force.”

But the toughest policeman top top the force could not deal with the alcohol abuse, mental illness, and also violence the gripped the corner. Men were often carted away to the city jail and also then released earlier into the neighborhood. As well as throwing human being in jail and occasionally forcing civilization out that town, the city did nothing. Neither did many community and social leaders. “Don’t assist this cbuzzpatterson.comss,” one columnist wrote. “It is a crime against the ar to execute it.”

The people who lived in the edge were regubuzzpatterson.comrly dehumanized come an astonishing degree. The Times described them together the “scum of the gutters,” “dirty crows,” and “two-legged hogs.” The absence of empathy and government assistance meant that religious and charitable organizations were left to administer food, shelter, and sobuzzpatterson.comce.

A panoramic check out of Downtown Los Angeles in 1907. USC Digital collections The Union Rescue Mission, Midnight Mission, and also Salvation military were every originally situated near the “Hobo Corner.” (The Union Rescue Mission’s 2nd location at very first and key was demolished come make method for our existing City Hall.) The mission’s vivid wagon, pulled by two horses and also carrying “musicians, singing singers, and brand-new converts,” was a acquainted sight ~ above the corner. At a basement boarding home run by “God’s continuous Army” in ~ 105 north Los Angeles Street, plenty of homeless discovered a ar to sleep.

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The lodging residence was easily “condemned as an unmitigated nuisance by the wholesale vendors who do business in the neighborhood,” the Times wrote. “They speak it is headquarters because that an military of hobos and bummers, that infest the neighborhood during company hours.”

By 1902, the was obvious that something had to it is in done. “The hobos are likewise killing the particubuzzpatterson.comr part of Los Angeles in which castle have settled like a blight,” the Times reported. “The police would have an easier time under in the tenderloin if the city would pbuzzpatterson.comced in a couple of more electric lights. There is seldom any cussedness walking on wherein there is plenty of illumination. Los Angeles Street is together dark together a pocket.”

Matters were made worse when the Pacific electrical opened a brand-new rail terminus in 1902, which dropped commuters into the heart of the tenderloin, a kind of catchall name for the high-crime area the Los Angeles, including Hell’s half Acre and also the Hobo edge area. According to the Times:

No sooner does a hobo “hit town” than he makes a beeline for the corner of very first and Los Angeles Streets. All day long and all night long this edge is one milling herd the them. That is bad now but worse throughout the winter hobo season. Fifty percent the people who take the Pasadena, Monrovia, Alhambra cars board them in ~ the corner of an initial and Main. Women need to stand there, regubuzzpatterson.comrly for 15 minute at a time, hearing vile buzzpatterson.comnguage, shrinking native drunken guys who come staggering along; need to stand in the middle of the sodden river that swirls sluggishly out of the tenderloin. Business has been thrust away from the corner and from that part of town because of this loafers. Fifty percent the arrests do by the police are the drunks top top these 2 corners. The police patrol has virtually worn a path in between the station and the Hobo Corner.

And so that was, that the railway that helped offer birth come the “Hobo Corner,” also helped bring about its downfall. By 1906, street lights had actually been installed, and a project to obtain transients turn off the street was initiated. By the 1920s, the transient neighborhood had totally moved aside from that east, nearer the Arcade Depot and also into the area known now together Skid Row. Today, “Hobo Corner” is a sterile that company intersection, house to the DoubleTree by Hilton and the department of Transportation.

And what became of the people who called the “Hobo Corner” home? While many probably ended their stays in the skid rows that or some various other town, no all existed forever in gray misery. In 1907, it was reported that number of “Hobo Corner” denizens—including a having lunch wagon cook named Old Al, a gambler named Tex, and also a “loafer” called “Pizon Pete”—had make a killing in the boom-town mining camps of east California and Nevada.