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Ghettos don’t just happen …

This is response to the post “Looking for Duluth apartment” in which “j-i-l-l-o” posted that someone was looking for a centralized location in Duluth and “Losjasmo” said that was a synonym for “ghetto-town.”  “Wildgoose” took offense. So did I.

This summer I heard Majora Carter speak and something she said really struck me. “Ghettos don’t just happen … they are planned.”

When I first moved here, I was appalled as we drove up Sixth Avenue East. I wondered why such a beautiful city did not care more about this stretch of road and why the city government and the landowners didn’t work together to beautify it. We were looking to relocate for my husband’s employment.

Research says simple things like trees, bushes and flowers actually affect the crime rate and our health, so I am a big proponent of keeping trees, planting flowers and adding nicely trimmed shrubs.

I have heard that some  SMDC employees are too scared to walk to Whole Foods Co-op. This should never be. One of the first steps to making a community safe is making sure the environment looks friendly and inviting.

Neighbors are working with the city to plant trees and add a bench to the little triangle above East Second Street inside of Sixth Avenue East. At the top of Sixth Avenue East just as it turns into Central Entrance, UDAC Mailing Services agreed to let neighbors plant an orchard. These actions will go a long way to beautify that stretch of road. But we must not stop there.

Central and East Hillside is full of children. We just had Hillfest, a celebration of East Hillside and Central Hillside at the intersection of Fourth Street and Sixth Avenue East on Sept. 18. The organizers want it at that exact spot to unite Central and East Hillside and call attention to our neighborhoods; and to let people who usually speed by know that children from Central Hillside’s Nettleton School, which will soon close, will be crossing this street to get to Grant School.

I used to hate weeds, but my friend, Prophetess Naomi-Tamar, who grew up in a ghetto, told me whenever she saw something green she was happy, even if it was a weed. So now, whenever I see a weed growing up out of the asphalt along Sixth Avenue East, I said to myself, “Go weed go! At least you’re something green.”

Ensure that our city is both beautiful and safe. Own property in that area? Plant a tree or add flower containers. Think twice before paving an area over without adding landscaping. It is for the health of our city and for the individuals who live and work here. In the words of Majora Carter, “Ghettos don’t just happen, they are planned.”

~Naomi Yaeger
Editor and General Manager
The Hillsider

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68 Comment(s)

  1. I too take umbrage at calling Central Hillside “ghetto.” Central Hillside is full of great people, and is a safe place in one of the safest cities in one of the safest states in one of the safest countries in the world. Perception can be very far from reality.

    Sam | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  2. I’m proud to call Central Hillside my home. I live, work, and play in this neighborhood, and wouldn’t choose to be any other place in this city. The hillside is colorful and alive with character.

    Kristine | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  3. I like the ghetto. I always end up in ghettos. They are my people.

    The Opponent | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  4. For what it is worth, when we bought our first home, here in Rochester, we chose to buy a home in, what I affectionately call, our ghetto down here.

    Yes…ghettos are created, largely by white flight, and poor community planning.

    Sorry I stirred the pot.

    Lojasmo | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  5. I do need to chime in, however. Duluth crime rates have been bigger than all city-average for the last four years. Furthermore, if you examine a crime data map, the highest density of crime occurs in the Central Hillside.

    Not that I feel unsafe in the hillside, but we need to stay factual here.

    Lojasmo | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  6. So, what ARE the city and businesses planning? Does SMDC own the properties across the street from their building on 4th Street? Those buildings really look creepy. How much of the HIllside do they own? Do they plan to pave over any more lots? Why are they allowed to continue to pave over lots without keeping them nicely landscaped? Central and East Hillside are the most sustainable neighborhoods in the city in the fact that shopping and services are accessible by foot or bus.

    Landlords and tenant both need to hold up their end of the bargain. Landlords need to tell the tenants what is expected of them -- set out the rules and guidelines. People tend to rise to the level that is expected of them, or the fall to what they see around them when they see no one else cares.

    Prof. Cricket | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  7. Also, the population is much more dense in those neighborhoods, which makes it look like crime is higher.

    I also am beginning to wonder if crime in other neighborhoods is getting recorded in the data base as I know of something that happened in another neighborhood and never showed up as anything, not even as a “neighborhood disturbance.” On the other hand it looks like the same crimes are reported more than once in the Central and East Hillside neighborhoods. I even saw some things reported as more serious crimes than they really were. All this affects the resale value of a home and how comfortable people and agents are on buying homes in those neighborhoods.

    Prof. Cricket | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  8. I typically don’t use the word ‘ghetto’ due to the association with the hollocaust, but many areas of duluth’s central hillside ( as well as the neighborhood in which I currently live) could be catagorized as slum neighborhoods.

    Everybody take a deep breath.

    Lojasmo | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  9. As someone who has lived in a large metropolitan area before coming to Duluth, seeing you people call the Central Hillside a ghetto is pretty hilarious. I lived in the Central Hillside for two years and that is not even close to being what can be called a ghetto. If that is a ghetto then Highway 53 near the Miller Hill Mall is akin to 5th Avenue in NYC for shopping.

    mac | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  10. Mac is correct. Central Hillside is no ghetto. East St. Louis, East Cleveland, SanFrancisco’s Tenderloin. These are ghettos. Being poor does not a ghetto make. I like being poor. I like poor people. Eat the Rich.

    The Opponent | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  11. SMDC: buying residential lots, getting them rezoned, paving them. Wait. Repeat. Cheaper than building parking lots. A great place to expand 10 years down the road. Talk about making ghettos.

    adam | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  12. We Duluthians are a proud bunch, Lojasmo, and that sentiment is justified. Hillside may have it’s cons, just as all neighborhoods, but every area in Duluth is an essential part of our larger community.

    If you really didn’t like our city, then I’m glad you left. We need citizens that are willing to take care of Duluth and appreciate it for everything it has to offer.

    year of glad | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  13. One of my first ever visits to Duluth I heard a gun shot in the Central Hillside area. This is the truth and not made up spin. That fact has stuck with me for years as I pass through the area from time to time. It was long ago btw not recently at all. But it’s caused me to stereotype the area in my mind as a crime district. A thing hard to change once you have it in your head. Call it ignorance but it’s what it is … it’s a ghetto area.

    Wes Scott | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  14. There are very few shootings, actually. When a shooting does occur, it definitely makes the news.

    I would say the most prominent shooting this year was the young man shot by an officer out west. Shootings that do take place are rarely random.

    year of glad | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  15. I did not intend my comment on j-i-l-l-o’s post to sound like piling on against lojasmo, I have no idea who that is and I didn’t know the spirit in which the comment was made. But I wasn’t going to let it pass without a challenge, either. I am so grateful that we can have nuanced discussions about local issues here on PDD. Kudos once again PDDers to the moderators/designers/creators/owners of my favorite web site EVER!


    Almost all of the things that sound like gunshots are in fact, fireworks. Sometimes they are gunshots, but fortunately that is very rare, thank God. And year of glad is right, in fact it’s a good year to be glad because it’s been about a year since we’ve had a murder in the hillside area (as far as I recall). Hopefully many more years will pass before we have to endure another one. Clearly anytime a this city or a neighborhood has to deal with a a killing it shakes us all up. And it should. But fortunately they are quite rare, yes even here in the Hillside.

    wildgoose | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  16. There are no slums in Duluth.

    There are no ghettos in Duluth.

    I have to assume that those who assert such falsehoods:

    a. Have never lived in a real city
    b. Believe that neighborhoods that are populated by non-whites are automatically ghettos

    This whole “SMDC employees are afraid to…” walk the 2 or 3 blocks to the Co-op thing makes me chuckle deeply in my loins.

    Duluth is ever-hilarious. And I love it.

    vicarious | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  17. Most supposed gun shots are firecrackers or cars back-firing, the latter being the closest sound to a gun report, in my opinion.

    Heh, I hike frequently through the area classified as “central hillside” and I can attest to the fact I’ve personally witnessed several acts of violence, some of which turned almost deadly. In fact I see people berate each other all the time in that area. But, I’m talking more around the north side of SMDC, not so much the more “elite” chester creek area.

    My favorite is when a guy (about 25 years of age) openly said from his porch he would kill this college “brat” because of some off-hand comment he made. He then proceeded to confront him face to face while the other was backing away (he had to cross the street and walk a quarter block to get to him). I stuck behind on the other side, somewhat out of morbid curiosity. I was pretty close to intervening, but then realized it was mostly bark instead of bite, and though he had buddies, he didn’t have a weapon that I could see. Yeah, I’m sure some greenery would have helped that situation. That’s only one of many from that area that I’ve seen. Actually, now that I think of it, that area was full of nice foliage (no sarcasm there, it really was).

    huitz | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  18. I’ve lived all over the United States, including Denver, Seattle, Portland, Dallas, Chicago, and for the past two years, Duluth.

    I have also toured the greater part of Western, and more relevant to this conversation, Eastern Europe.

    Anyone under the impression that Duluth has anything remotely resembling a “ghetto” or for that sake, “traffic,” is severely uninformed.

    If you’re afraid of living among non-white people -- if you’re afraid of living among poor people -- then Central Hillside is not for you.

    Otherwise it’s pretty rad, and compared to most cities, ridiculously cheap place to live, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

    I wouldn’t trade my lake view for anything, occasional fireworks (not gunshots) or not.

    Nathan Amundson | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  19. I moved to Duluth 35 years ago. I grew up in Los Angeles…in an area that is now called South Central but then was referred to as Watts, Compton, “ghetto.” I live in Watts in the ’65 riots and I ate out of garbage cans before it was called “dumpster diving.” I will never forget the first house I lived in. It was across the street from what was then Tom and Jon’s Market. Many people I knew asked how I could live in such a neighborhood. My reply, “Hell, this is the nicest neighborhood I have ever lived in.” And, I would say, it still would apply to that statement today. As far as being afraid to walk in the area…purses are snatched at the mall, people are attacked in parks, and s**t happens everywhere.

    sarafenix | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  20. Also have to second that denser populations in any neighborhood make crime stats APPEAR higher.

    Per person. There’s more people here, duh.

    Good luck in the ghettos of Rochester, MN.

    That sounds real rough.

    Nathan Amundson | Sep 22, 2010 | New Comment
  21. I just moved in May to the area around Lake Avenue and 6th Street. I love it. People always say “Oh so you live in the ghetto, is it scary?” and I, honestly, say “No, actually, it’s a great neighborhood. Quiet. And I can walk almost anywhere I need to go.” Not to mention the view! Plus…I feel like I’m actually doing my part in making Duluth a better place in the places that some people think aren’t so great.

    Viva la hillside.

    Mel | Sep 23, 2010 | New Comment
  22. A year or so ago the Duluth News Tribune ran an article with proof that the Central Hillside is dangerous.

    The proof? A Pawn Shop had been broken into twice in the last eighteen years.

    My parents looked very stern and concerned after reading the article.

    That was HILARIOUS.

    Reminded me of why I love Duluth.

    And of why I hate Duluth.

    Former (?) Duluthian | Sep 23, 2010 | New Comment
  23. I tend to agree. The weird provincialism of those who are easily freaked-out are a much bigger problem in this town than the sum total of crime.

    TimK | Sep 23, 2010 | New Comment
  24. Look, folks, the definition of “slum” is, according to the United Nations, “a run-down area of a city characterized by substandard housing and squalor and lacking in tenure.”

    According to the UN-HABITAT press release, “The term has traditionally referred to housing areas that were once relatively affluent but which deteriorated as the original dwellers moved on to newer and better parts of the city.”

    This description fits many areas within the Central Hillside, and, indeed, the Central Hillside as a whole, when compared to the entirety of Duluth proper (and the greater Duluth area).

    I still consider myself a Duluthian, though I have now lived nearly half my life away. In fact, when my son is done with high school, it is somewhat likely that we will move back … certainly we will not stay in Rochester, which is a social and cultural wasteland.

    Sorry I caused a squid-ink of butt hurt here. Facts are facts, though: Duluth has a higher crime rate, and higher unemployment than the rest of the state, and the Central Hillside is at least not inconsistent with the UN’s definition of “slum” though, of course, there can be no real comparison to the slums of Mumbai, or the ghettos of Venice.

    Lojasmo | Sep 23, 2010 | New Comment
  25. It isn’t a slum to most of us. It’s an integral part of our community, and any Duluthian would realize that. I very much doubt our crime rate trumps that of the Twin Cities, and we have 6 crimes for the states average, 10.

    Don’t try to tell me what it’s like to live in my own city.

    yearofglad | Sep 23, 2010 | New Comment
  26. So what is this about? Is it a great preponderance of rural people who just don’t know what to make of a place where people are actually out on the street and talking to each other--not always a tip of the hat, no, but still…? Run down? Anyone seen some of the rural places out there in the hinterlands? If Central Hillside is a ghetto due to its rundown buildings and poverty, then I declare the whole Iron Range to be a ghetto.

    But see, it ain’t about that. It’s about color, if you ask me. People aren’t afraid of living near poverty until it looks different from theirs.)

    I truly can’t imagine how someone could be afraid to walk to the Co-op from SMDC unless they have a weird fear of Teh Brown Folk… It just seems inexplicable.

    Gunshots? Anyone who’s ever lived in a city knows that most of what outsiders think of as gunshots are fireworks. Like easily 90+ percent. I’ve heard way more gunshots when I’ve stayed in the middle of rural farms, since, you know--them people have more guns and have the space to shoot at cans and stuff.

    Whenever I hear someone talking about “the ghetto” in Duluth, I want to teleport them to East St. Louis, or the South Side of Chicago. Show them what a ghetto looks like and feels like. Walk the length of one there. (I actually think *everyone* should do this. You won’t get shot, I promise.)

    If it was just about the fear of street drunks/meth addicts, I guess I understand. But, isn’t that usually just about knowing how to handle yourself in a place where people gather? There have always been impaired people on the street, in every place there’s been a downtown, since the beginning of time. So as adult persons, we gotta know how to navigate those sorts of situations. It’s distressing to me that so many people find that such a fearful thing that they avoid a whole neighborhood.

    There just aren’t that many people stumbling around asking you for money or wanting to rob you. Truly there aren’t. It’s not that they don’t exist--it’s just that our paranoia is way over-indulged. I’m sorry, but this has to be the result of American overdose on 24 hr news stations.

    Here’s my made-up term of the day: the Suburbanification of America.

    hbh | Sep 23, 2010 | New Comment
  27. True, indeed, Duluth’s ‘ghetto’-like areas are still quite tame…and more than anything, misunderstood. I’d characterize the ghettos of Duluth more as specific apartment buildings, complexes, or landlords rather than actual neighborhoods. I’m a proud resident of the Central Hillside … live here, work here, walk here, and have never had an issue at all. I do know the number of level 3 sex offenders has increased in hillside in the past year, so that perhaps should make me more nervous, though it somehow doesn’t. At any rate. I was at the Majora Carter event as well and was truly inspired. Thanks very much to Naomi for starting this conversation. And … my friend is still looking for that apartment, so thanks for all of you who have lent useful information on that end.

    j-i-l-l-o | Sep 23, 2010 | New Comment
  28. I used to work at SMDC and knew a lot of those people who spoke of being afraid. They’re mostly from the outskirts of Duluth or the surrounding little towns in the middle of nowhere. They’re afraid of downtown too. Yeah, they were all white and racists of various degrees.

    eco eco | Sep 23, 2010 | New Comment
  29. Ghetto may be the wrong word, but it’s definitely not a place I like to spend time. People living there claim it’s safe to walk the streets to get to various destinations, but every time I’m in the area for work or leisure, I’m always pestered for money or cat called or followed, I have even came out of a doctor appointment to two guys trying the handles on my car door and when I set the alarm off they ran back into their house.

    People living there (not all but some, and that’s the problem is some giving all a bad name) don’t know how to live and let live, how to let others go about their business. At home, in a town nearby of about 12,000, I can and do walk my dog all over town at all hours and feel safe. When we come across another we say hi, hello, nice night, etc. I am never asked for money, followed, cat called and do not fear my safety. I am also not a racist and will point out there is no majority to the creed of people who have accosted me while in the hillside, I don’t care if you’re white, black, or purple with yellow spots, how you act toward me and the world is what I will judge you by.

    I do not wish to tell anyone how to live in their city, but I do wish to point out that many of the hillsiders make it VERY uncomfortable for the rest of us to be in your neighborhood, thus the ghetto-like references. We feel YOU feel like only YOU should be allowed on your streets, when in reality us “outsiders” just want to share in your wonderful city.

    I should also note that I am not a stranger to Duluth as I have lived briefly here and spent about half of the past 10 years in Duluth for work and leisure but the hillside is my least favorite place to go anymore because of the way I am treated. It’s a two-way street. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, we’re going to call it a duck.

    RS | Sep 23, 2010 | New Comment
  30. From

    Slum: –noun 1.Often, slums. a thickly populated, run-down, squalid part of a city, inhabited by poor people. 2. any squalid, run-down place to live.

    Ghetto –noun, plural -tos, -toes. 1. a section of a city, esp. a thickly populated slum area, inhabited predominantly by members of an ethnic or other minority group, often as a result of social or economic restrictions, pressures, or hardships. 2. (formerly, in most European countries) a section of a city in which all Jews were required to live. 3. a section predominantly inhabited by Jews. 4. any mode of living, working, etc., that results from stereotyping or biased treatment: job ghettos for women; ghettos for the elderly.

    So back to Marjora Carter … Ghettos don’t just happen. They are planned. What is the plan for these neighborhoods?

    The fact is that there are blighted properties in the Hillside. The Hillside is a mix of beautiful views and ugly concrete. Fun old, architecture and run down buildings. When little inconsequential laws are not enforced, this gives people the feeling that no one cares anyway, so why not litter, why not just let your property sit with overgrown grass, or why bother fixing up your house or rental property, it’s just the Hillside?

    We need to plan a beautiful, livable Hillside. When trees on the boulevard are chopped down due to disease or old age, they need to be replaced. Currently they are not.

    When a new store is built, it needs to have attractive landscaping. What is the plan for the new Walgreens to be built at 12 Ave. E. and Superior? There are over 30 trees that will come down in that block. Will they be replaced? What will the parking lot look like. Will it look like the parking lot at the current Walgreens?

    When people litter or put too much garbage out in bags that are ripped open by skunks, raccoons and birds, they need to be called on to clean it up, or call the cops. You might think those are little things, but they show whether or not you care.

    People will rise or lower to the level of expectation.

    Hillsider Newspaper editor | Sep 23, 2010 | New Comment
  31. The Central Hillside has been the same place for the 30 years I’ve visited Duluth. Not sure I’d feel comfortable walking around there at night. Or would I in South Chicago, East St. Louis or South Milwaukee. It’s not racism it’s just the facts. The view sure is wonderful however. I love any place that has a view of Lake Superior like that.

    Wes Scott | Sep 23, 2010 | New Comment
  32. I walk through the Central Hillside at all hours of the night.

    adam | Sep 23, 2010 | New Comment
  33. Blah, blah :^)

    So people are saying that they’ve been there, done that. Big deal. I’ve volunteered in an area that the Denver, CO nicely says it’s a “poor” area. Almost every house/apartment has bars on the doors and windows.

    Try the far side of Bourbon street in New Orleans during the day. Try the wrong part of Chicago. Who cares? Every town has an area that is disreputable, Duluth has one, no matter how volatile in comparison.

    You can say “Oh, well I’ve been to such and such a place…” but you’ve never been to Pakistan or Africa. I think the point here is that it’s a bad neighborhood in comparison to other parts of Duluth; that’s it. Trying to compare it to other cities is silly.

    Oh, one other thing, the theory that a higher population density just observes crimes more often and accounts for the crime rate by area is simply untrue. In fact, people are less likely to perform your average crime in a public arena. It might happen because there are more people, but the crimes just happen more often because of the sociological aspects of people living and grouping with each other in a close space. Not a linear relation. The gravity of the crime is what people are concerned about.

    huitz | Sep 23, 2010 | New Comment
  34. In Duluth “ghetto” is code word for the the dreaded N-Word.

    dbrewing | Sep 23, 2010 | New Comment
  35. I’d hazard a guess that the majority of the negative comments re: the Central Hillside here are made by white people.

    White people who don’t live anywhere near the CH and are casting stones from the sidelines.

    I live here, and like Adam, feel safe to walk the streets of the CH any hours of the night.

    No, it’s not Africa or Pakistan. It’s also not southside Chicago or Detroit. That’s the point.

    There is nothing in Duluth even remotely resembling the ghettos or slums of above said places.

    There are bad properties in the CH, yes. There are absentee landlords here, absolutely.

    But it’s far from slum or a ghetto. And if you’ve ever seen a real slum or ghetto, in whatever city or country, you’ll follow.

    Look, you’re afraid of non-whites and poor people. OK. Fly away, delicate baby.

    Otherwise, stop whining, stop running scared, and do something to effect change.

    Nathan Amundson | Sep 24, 2010 | New Comment
  36. @Nathan Amundson, almost every time I saw somebody accosted/threatened involved white (caucasian) people, not blacks (usually white guys and women between age 18-40).

    I can recall only one incident when I wore a blue (patterned) bandanna that some black people gave me creepy stares even though the rest of my attire was plain jane. I especially like the one a guy gave me trying to lock eyes with me as I got off the bus (about 15 full seconds of glare; even got a “love tap” from the shoulder).

    But I agree with most other people, it’s pretty trivial compared to other cities. It’s simply the area is not like other spots in Duluth.

    huitz | Sep 24, 2010 | New Comment
  37. Dbrewing said it most succinctly. All other arguments are pointless.

    vicarious | Sep 24, 2010 | New Comment
  38. Ghetto is code word for the dreaded n-word. That does not negate the fact that most of the big time drug houses in my neighborhood are franchises of Chicago GD or VL or whatever brain damaged organizations they come up with to sell their terrible drugs. The house that makes my life living hell is owned by Scott Vesterstein and managed by Ship Rock. Some days it’s like watching an episode of the Wire looking out my front window. Well I guess there would be a cop or two in an episode of the Wire.

    Also, fuck SMDC.

    dbrewing | Sep 24, 2010 | New Comment
  39. I’m looking for a place close to downtown as well. It’s a quirky area, and I think you need to look block-to-block and ask yourself if you’re comfortable living there. There’s a lot of different things going on, and on an individual basis, what’s comfortable for one person might not be comfortable for another.

    I’d live in the Chelsea district and other neighborhoods of NYC in a heartbeat. Would I walk outside at night? Absolutely I would! And that’s what makes living downtown exciting, there’s always something going on, and people and LIFE on the streets. But I would definitely avoid certain streets or blocks. And I’d lock my car. And not make eye contact, the way people do when they grow up in a small town and expect every person they meet on the street to be a possible acquaintance.

    If you want to live in a high-density neighborhood you need to get that chip off your shoulder and try to be smart about yourself. At their core, people are more alike than different.

    girlfromnorthcountry | Sep 24, 2010 | New Comment
  40. For what it’s worth, as a 40-something female, I have and will walk anywhere in the Hillside, solo, at any hour of day or night. My radar might be heightened at night, and I definitely pay attention to my surroundings and who else is on the street with me, but I would not hesitate to do so.

    Muggings happen. I’ve known people who’ve been mugged. This does not deter me from living my life and going where I want to go. Drunk or drugged up people aggressively asking me for money earn a “Get the FUCK away from me!!”

    It’s really that simple.

    hbh | Sep 24, 2010 | New Comment
  41. Right on hbh! It’s that ridiculous fear that keeps people from experiencing life and the world around them. The people that are afraid to walk from SMDC to whole foods can stay in the suburbs, I’ll take the city!

    girlfromnorthcountry | Sep 24, 2010 | New Comment
  42. I dunno, the smoothie shop and H&R Block tax place between SMDC and the coop are downright scary. Don’t even get me started on the flower shop. Filled with hooligans, I’m sure.

    brian | Sep 24, 2010 | New Comment
  43. I’m with hbh. I grew up in Minneapolis, lived in Miami (in the hellish 1980s) and L.A. Fuck off! I’m going about my life as I please.

    As for the panhandlers -- I’ll beg them for change or smokes b4 they can beg from me and that stops em dead cold. Fake sign language and feigning deaf (no offense to actual deaf folk) works like a dream too, as I found out one late night on Hennepin Avenue after I lost my voice.

    c-freak | Sep 24, 2010 | New Comment
  44. Cheers hbh and C-freak. It’s perplexing to see people limit their own freedom and mobility due to their irrational perceptions of danger.

    Resol | Sep 24, 2010 | New Comment
  45. Anyone interested in more information about the Neighborhood Revitalization Plans for Duluth’s core neighborhoods should attend Connecting the Dots at the Clyde Iron Works Saturday, October 2nd from 8:30 to Noon. Fill your belly with free chow and check out the collaborative work being done by local agencies and neighborhood groups.
    More info here.

    Also, between this thread and the one that spawned it, I count four separate negative references to Shiprock Property Management.

    Shiprock’s chickens are coming home to roost. I am collecting these accounts in my capacity as Community Organizer for Churches United in Ministry. I urge anyone who has had a negative experience with this company to contact me at or 218-428-0290. We can protect your anonymity but if you’re willing to go on record, that’s great.

    And if any employee of Shiprock wants to weigh into this forum and defend your company’s reputation, it’s a conversation I’d love to have. In public.

    Allen Richardson | Sep 24, 2010 | New Comment
  46. As C-Freak knows, I’m much more wary of going to a Tea Party event or a Sarah Palin/Michele Bachmann rally than I am walking around the Hillside. I’ve walked through the Hillside between my home and downtown many times and never, never have had a problem. In fact, I once parked a block or two from SMDC’s E.R. in the middle of the night and didn’t think twice about it.

    dbrewing and hbh are right: it’s all about “the other” living in that neighborhood.

    Just seems ironic that the neighborhood with the greatest lake views in town has this bad rap. I love my neighborhood, but if I had to, I’d live in the Hillside any day over suburban Woodland or other areas far from the Lake.

    This is a GREAT thread by the way, with a lot of thoughtful comments.

    Claire | Sep 24, 2010 | New Comment
  47. So if I park my nice SUV in the Hillside, will it have a window busted out or not? I’d make a guess at night the window would be busted out and the satellite radio torn from the dash. That is a given plan and simple.

    Wes Scott | Sep 24, 2010 | New Comment
  48. ??????What and odd thing to say??????!!!!!

    You want us to predict the future.

    Sounds like you are trolling trying to bait someone to bite.

    Yes, if you park you big, fancy car in the Hillside people will bash in your windows and steal you fancy radio. Better not enter. Stay in your little rural town. The big city is too scary for you.

    I have a friend who has a older model, modest vehicle car and lives in Lakeside. He had his window bashed and CDs stolen. A year previously his neighbor across the street had his motor stolen off his boat.

    Hmmmm…..Moral of the story? Park in a garage.

    ML | Sep 25, 2010 | New Comment
  49. Yes, if you’re stupid enough to park your nice SUV on the street in the hillside, you can expect it to be vandalized.

    plan and simple.

    zra | Sep 25, 2010 | New Comment
  50. That is my point, so it’s a ghetto. Not racisim, just a fact. Lincoln Park is much the same. Stop pretending they are anything else. It’s not a bad or good thing, just what is.

    It’s been the same for over 30 years.

    Wes Scott | Sep 25, 2010 | New Comment
  51. Actually Wes,
    That is the whole point. We are trying to improve things. We aren’t pretending it something is not. Many of us like the Hillside and have seen and read research in which we can improve the Hillside a nicer place to live.

    We won’t stop pretending that we have been NOT overlooked or disregarded because of lack of planning.

    We will start demanding that our neighborhoods are important enough to warrant better planning.

    People are already working on “A Safe And Walkable Hillside.” Orchards are being planted and other changes are in the works.

    Lots of children are growing up in the Hillside. And it would behoove everyone’s own future to make sure these kids are not overlooked due to poor city planning.

    See: Trees Linked with Less Domestic Violence in the Inner City

    Hillsider Newspaper editor | Sep 25, 2010 | New Comment
  52. You know what? I’m going to have to disagree with ‘Zra here, and that could be a first. He agreed (apparently) with Wes Scott who said if he parks his nice SUV outside in the Hillside it would get broken into “That is a given plan and simple.”

    I have lived in the hillside for over 8 years now and parked outside every night and I have had my car broken into … once. Now, that really sucked when that happen and I was enraged. But it was one time in 8 years. Hardly a given. In fact, by my reckoning those odds would be 2900 to one that your car WON’T get broken into.

    wildgoose | Sep 25, 2010 | New Comment
  53. I have to agree with wildgoose. I drive a new chevy trail blazer. Before this, I drove an audi. My vehicles have never been broken into. A lot of people that live in the hillside are respectful and hardworking. Many are young and/or working long hours at low paying jobs, so they’re merely living where they can afford to do so. They’re not all hood rats and addicts. In fact, many people choose to live there because it’s got a great view and it’s close to downtown.

    Along with the area of west end around Lincoln Park, it seems to be the place in the city with the most equal opportunity housing, and this is probably the main factor contributing to it’s bad reputation. I find it interesting that our mayor has nothing to say about the absent landlords and welfare-abusing residents of hillside. I’m not so sure just planting trees is going to fix this problem. It is fixable, however, and it only helps that there are so many hillside residents ready to transform their neighborhood. I think a more proactive plan of action has to involve affordable rent in other parts of the city, keeping at-risk children on track to graduate high school, improving rental properties in hillside, and a more present police force.

    yearofglad | Sep 25, 2010 | New Comment
  54. @ goose:

    Sarcasm. Sorry.

    I’ve lived in “ghettos” far more dangerous than the Hillside.

    The Hillside isn’t ghetto.
    The Hillside isn’t ghetto.
    The Hillside isn’t ghetto.

    South Minneapolis. Ghetto.
    Central District in Seattle. Ghetto.
    Division St in Tacoma. Ghetto.
    Midway/Frogtown in St Paul. Ghetto.

    Spend a week or two going toe to toe with drug dealers and prostitutes in any one of these other neighborhoods and then tell me that the Hillside is ghetto.

    The Hillside is. not. ghetto.

    Perhaps there is a perception of it being so coming from people who’ve never really experienced what a ghetto really is. If I grew up in a city of 5,000 and moved here, then I might possibly think that the Hillside is the worst place on the planet … but I know better.

    The Hillside is. not. ghetto.

    zra | Sep 25, 2010 | New Comment
  55. Hey, watch what you say about South Mpls. Southside is blooming.

    Resol | Sep 25, 2010 | New Comment
  56. Oh boy. Zra, gotta get yer goose, here.

    MPLS doesn’t have any ghettos, either. Even the Northside is good…just tiny pockets (a couple of houses here and there, really) that are bad spots, which bleed gunshots into the neighborhood. There is nowhere that is block upon block of neglected housing, rampant blight, etc.

    As for South MPLS, it actually encompasses over a dozen neighborhoods (from Lowry Hill -- clearly not a ghetto, to Longfellow and beyond -- and mos def not ghettos. Sure, there are pockets (32nd and Bloomington? 22nd and Elliot?) that aren’t the greatest, but, again, no ghetto.

    K, I go fly now.

    vicarious | Sep 26, 2010 | New Comment
  57. Wow, did all the high horses come from the same breeder?

    Central Hillside is kinda ghetto, but a cute, pocket, postcard ghetto. A good chunk of low income is there, a lot of beautiful old homes were converted into crappy little apartments and then let go. But an 8 x 15 block area? Barely big enough to be called a neighborhood, let alone a ghetto.

    Here’s the rub, kids. The cure for neighborhood decay is revitalization. But then comes gentrification, and then none of you could afford it. I used to stay at Julian’s up at the top of Second East. Beautiful spot. Great view. I think it was like 400 bucks a month. Someday someone will build condos up there and sell them for 250k.

    jwilferling | Sep 26, 2010 | New Comment
  58. You’re probably right, vicarious.

    It’s actually been a good decade since I’ve spent any time at all in Minneapolis. I think what I was trying to say is that if folks up here think the Hillside is a ghetto, then places like I mentioned, including S. Mpls (Bloom Lake comes to mind) would have them curled up in the fetal position whimpering for mommy.


    I’m glad to know that once-blighted neighborhoods in the cities are finally starting to come around.

    zra | Sep 26, 2010 | New Comment
  59. Although I don’t think the Hillside is ghetto, when we lived there, our car was broken into not once, not twice, but three times. The third time we gave up on replacing the radio.

    tamara | Sep 27, 2010 | New Comment
  60. I’m not really sure what to make of all of this. Calling Hillside a ghetto seems silly. Being proud to live in Hillside seems silly, too. The only neighborhoods I’ve ever lived in where residents claimed “pride” were neighborhoods trying to fight negative perception — to make outsiders see them more positively, to make insiders groom their lawns and pick up their trash. No one in Congdon wants “Congdon Pride” T-Shirts.

    To call the perception of Hillside as unsafe racially motivated seems silly because there are so few nonwhites anywhere in Duluth. Even Hillside must be majority white, no? And in Milwaukee, at least, the “unsafe” neighborhoods were seen as “unsafe” by people of all races. The markers of an unsafe neighborhood were not rooted in race; they were rooted in poverty and the [real or perceived] political powerlessness that comes from poverty.

    My spouse, who grew up in rural Missouri, is freaked out by housing density in Duluth (our place is 18 feet from our neighbor’s). In Milwaukee, as in the Hillside, I could have crawled out my window and into the window of my neighbor’s place — the space between houses was barely a catwalk. Her visceral response to that kind of population density is no more racist than my own feelings of vulnerability when we drive through rural Missouri (as in space, in rural Missouri, no one can hear you scream — they live too far away). Calling her response racist or small town is dismissive without actually doing anything useful.

    This whole thread seems like more heat than light. Here’s what I want: I want to know how do we sustain one of the few, genuine, urban areas of Duluth (where life without a car is possible, where bus service is actually convenient) without succumbing to gentrification that will displace the population? $200,000 condos on 4th don’t “fix” the neighborhood; they draw the inequalities into relief.

    Planting trees: I’m on board with that. Orchards? Check. I note the new tattoo shop on 6th — how do we fill other empty storefronts? What else? I’ll vote for any referendum you suggest. I’ll pester my councilor to align with any proposal you endorse that helps us “unplan” the aspects of Hillside life that can be improved — that remove the markers of poverty that define the “unsafe” neighborhood.

    Instead of arguing about perceptions, let’s debate courses of action.

    David | Sep 27, 2010 | New Comment
  61. Sooo…

    Duluth: 55 per 1,000; West Lake Street – Chicago: 257 per 1,000.

    Of course, the majority of both of these numbers are property crimes.

    adam | Oct 4, 2010 | New Comment
  62. One orchard, financed by NHS, three individuals and several businesses who decided to donate the whole set of trees because they know/liked the individuals involved. I’m not bad-mouthing any of this (yes, lots of 20-year-olds worked on it) but it is ironic that there is so much willingness lurking unseen. Sometimes it takes a few, sometimes a village, to make an improvement which I feel has more to do with safe food sources than development. The Hillside could be more characterized as “badly not living up to its huge potential,” which should not include the least bit rundown.

    notalawyer-o | Oct 4, 2010 | New Comment
  63. I think city planning is a good way to reduce crime in some ways and beautifying the area is a good idea. That being said, the Hillside is not a ghetto, rundown, yes, but not a ghetto. Duluth itself looks rundown, uninviting, and more bleak, sort of like a prison.

    Michael | Mar 11, 2011 | New Comment
  64. Oops missed this post somehow last fall.

    Lots of Duluth does look run down and there is garbage everywhere, but it’s still no where near as bad as Superior looking like it does, or as bad as Thunder Bay. Gross dilapidated filthy cities those.

    I walk from Chester Park to Downtown to work many days for the past few years, greeting people in my path, taking various routes down the different streets, taking pics, both mornings and afternoons included, and even some evenings at/after dark. I’ve never felt unsafe in this neighbourhood/area.

    I walked to and from Hillfest last year as well.

    I also regularly pick up cans along my routes there, and on 9th St in my walks. If I could carry more, there’d be a plethora of plastic bottles and cig boxes to pick up as well. Perhaps someone else can pull that duty.

    I’ve long said that Duluth needs a monthly clean up day ( like on Sat or Sun so the week starts off nice), where everyone goes out on their block and picks up garbage and takes some pride in their neighbourhood. I usually do this Easter week every year, as it’s spring too, and I like my block clean, even though my neighbours can be pigs letting refuse fall from their cars or stray stuff from their overflowing garbage bins.

    The city pays people to keep downtown clean. Citizens seem to have no incentive or initiative to keep their own areas clean, not even for their own eyes, families, children, or neighbours. The blow-ins make quite a bit of mess as well. No one is held accountable or seems to care.

    ruby2sd4y | Mar 14, 2011 | New Comment
  65. “no where near as bad as Superior”
    Before you rip on Superior, I have two words for ya: Morgan Park. Have you been there lately? The main drag is a complete s===hole, and the roads there have apparently been cluster-bombed in an air-raid nobody knows about. I’m from Superior and Morgan Park depresses me. There’s plenty of nice neighborhoods in Superior.

    -Berv | Mar 14, 2011 | New Comment
  66. Time to start carrying grocery bags on the daily walks. Pick up those stray mittens! put ‘em on the fence on the Lakewalk! It’s up to us to keep our neighborhoods clean.

    zra | Mar 15, 2011 | New Comment
  67. Heh @ Morgan Park. I have ventured there over the past few months to the school for activities. It isn’t pretty, but I only drive directly to the school, and in Soup, only certain roads, so I don’t see the ‘hidden beauty’ of whatever neighbourhoods you mean. Most I see looks pretty run down and filthy.

    Road craters are everywhere these days, even the new-ish roads = teh sux0r.

    Actually Zra, on yesterday’s 9th Street walk I found 5 gloves/mittens. I left them though, as maybe their owners would discover them from the thaw. Most looked as if they fell out of parked vehicles. Perhaps a line strung along the Chester Creek Bridge would be a good place to hang them and other strange items. hmm. Community Clothesline!

    I have, however, hung stray mittens in the trees at Forest Lawn.

    Collected between 19th Ave E & 6th Ave E: 1 full plastic grocery bag of cans (crushed or I crushed them), this after a pick up walk just under 2 weeks ago garnering the same amount.

    Again, there were also many plastic bottles, cig boxes and butts, along with other misc garbage just ripe for the pickin.

    4th Street is pretty nasty too, so plenty of opportunity for pickers, especially around the park.

    Perhaps a Duluth Adopt-A-Street Program -- similar to the highway one could be started.
    Maybe some scout troops need community service badge opportunities?
    Or some of the Mentors an activity with their charges?
    Some of those bored/broke kids/people hangin round the Transit Centers lookin like they could use a job.
    *Earn a bus ride for a bag of garbage!*
    Science/Enviro classes?
    Just a thought.

    ruby2sd4y | Mar 19, 2011 | New Comment
  68. I’ve lived in the hillside for the past 4 years, and honestly I can see both sides of the argument. I’ve lived in the ghettos of Kansas City where there were obvious drug deals and gun shots outside my home and a helicopter spotlight looming over us literally every other night. The CH is nothing compared to that, but compared to the rest of Duluth it lives up to its reputation.

    I don’t care if people call it a slum or the ghetto, but then I never took offense to being considered “poor” or a “minority.” To me the words are descriptors with no derogatory meaning by themselves. They can be used in such a way, but they aren’t insults alone.

    I’ve seen drive-bys, vandalization,drug deals, and knock-down-drag-outs in the street from my window. Granted I don’t see them ALL THE TIME like I did in KC, they do exist a lot more in the CH as compared to Lakeside or even the Eastern Hillside. Many of the women I work with at a women’s shelter have ended up in condemned buildings run by disreputable landlords because when you’re desperate, you’ll take what you can get.

    I’m not afraid to walk outside at night. I have many good neighbors who will and have been there for me when needed. For the most part I sleep soundly and have not had my home be a part of any illegal activity for any reason. I’ve gotten cat-called and annoyed as much at the DTA as I have in the Hillside…mostly I just ignore them until they go away, seems to work nicely.

    I think the more responsibility people in the CH take for how their neighborhood looks/feels the better living standards will become. People can be jerks sometimes, but whenever I’ve gone to anything at the Washington Center I’ve always had a feeling of community and even family. We’re all in this together and we know it.

    Makoons | May 20, 2011 | New Comment

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