Thesis

West End boys: urban redevelopment and the elimination of Sacramento's skid row

Thesis (M.A., History (Public History))--California State University, Sacramento, 2013.

Following World War Two, federal legislation allowed leaders in American cities to implement aggressive programs of urban renewal. Designed to revitalize neighborhoods blighted by decades of neglect, such programs often razed a city’s oldest and poorest neighborhoods, replacing them with newly built residential and commercial districts. Sacramento’s period of urban renewal began in earnest in the 1950s, when city planners and redevelopment officials formulated plans to redevelop the city’s West End area. 
 Within the West End was the Sacramento’s skid row area, an economically depressed district of inexpensive hotels that was historically home to thousands of single, male, transient agricultural workers. Although skid row had a reputation for moral and social decay, city leaders recognized its value as a source of cheap labor for area farms. Nonetheless, the area was to be demolished and redeveloped. Through the 1950s, the Sacramento Redevelopment Agency formulated a series of proposals for the relocation the city’s skid row population to a new skid row neighborhood that was to be built on the model of the old one. The redevelopment agency abandoned its plan in 1959 and never instituted a new plan to relocate skid row residents displaced by redevelopment in the 1950s and 1960s. In the end, the displaced skid row population gradually relocated independently to other impoverished areas in Sacramento and elsewhere.
 West End Boys explains and contextualizes the reasoning behind planners’ proposals for a new skid row neighborhood and tracks the effects the failure to implement those proposals had on Sacramento’s skid row population. Historical and sociological secondary sources provide the foundation for this analysis. Another valuable body of source material is the collection of studies and plans issued by the Sacramento Redevelopment Agency, the Sacramento City Planning Commission, and other local agencies. In addition, press accounts from the era provide insight into the events surrounding the demolition of Sacramento’s skid row. West End Boys uses these sources to illuminate a topic left largely unexamined by historians.

Following World War Two, federal legislation allowed leaders in American cities to implement aggressive programs of urban renewal. Designed to revitalize neighborhoods blighted by decades of neglect, such programs often razed a city’s oldest and poorest neighborhoods, replacing them with newly built residential and commercial districts. Sacramento’s period of urban renewal began in earnest in the 1950s, when city planners and redevelopment officials formulated plans to redevelop the city’s West End area. Within the West End was the Sacramento’s skid row area, an economically depressed district of inexpensive hotels that was historically home to thousands of single, male, transient agricultural workers. Although skid row had a reputation for moral and social decay, city leaders recognized its value as a source of cheap labor for area farms. Nonetheless, the area was to be demolished and redeveloped. Through the 1950s, the Sacramento Redevelopment Agency formulated a series of proposals for the relocation the city’s skid row population to a new skid row neighborhood that was to be built on the model of the old one. The redevelopment agency abandoned its plan in 1959 and never instituted a new plan to relocate skid row residents displaced by redevelopment in the 1950s and 1960s. In the end, the displaced skid row population gradually relocated independently to other impoverished areas in Sacramento and elsewhere. West End Boys explains and contextualizes the reasoning behind planners’ proposals for a new skid row neighborhood and tracks the effects the failure to implement those proposals had on Sacramento’s skid row population. Historical and sociological secondary sources provide the foundation for this analysis. Another valuable body of source material is the collection of studies and plans issued by the Sacramento Redevelopment Agency, the Sacramento City Planning Commission, and other local agencies. In addition, press accounts from the era provide insight into the events surrounding the demolition of Sacramento’s skid row. West End Boys uses these sources to illuminate a topic left largely unexamined by historians.

Relationships

Items