Skid Row is a Home

architectural office Michael Maltzan Architecture, Inc
project Star Apartments Residential Building, Los Angeles, California, USA
written by Florencia Rodríguez
A century ago, Downtown Los Angeles was thought to be the promised land where a very active nightlife and economic activity derived from the growing show business and the entertainment industry. Hollywood’s Golden Age was reflected in this part of the city by the construction of luxurious hotels, theatres, banks, department stores and other types of buildings that very quickly consolidated a dense and interesting urban tissue.
But if there is something we can learn about the great American cities is that they are defined by change, and those changes can frequently be abrupt and ruthless. In the 1930s already, all of this urban development had a parallel in a growing Skid Row on one of the city borders. This area had originated as a home to temporary workers but got denser and denser until it reached a population of around 10,000 homeless people at that time. The fifty-block road was subject to many legal conflicts throughout its history and that number fluctuated permanently. From clearance programs to lawsuits and raids, the people living there were recurrent victims of acts that did nothing but reinforce their feeling of a marginalized living.