Poor Side of Town is Usually the East Side

The reason? Dan Zambonini proposes that the prevailing winds in most U.S. cities run westerly, so pollution from industrial smokestacks would blow through the eastern neighborhoods.

While the poorer people moved east, people with money during the industrial era moved westward:

"The massive, unchecked pollution from these early industries would therefore drift eastward, making the air quality much lower in the east end of cities, lowering the desirability (and price) of the housing. Middle classes preferred the cleaner west ends."

Full Story: Why are the East of Cities usually Poorer?



Michael Lewyn's picture


Let me think about the "favored quarter" in the cities I have lived in:

Washington DC- west is rich, east is poor (fits generalization).
Fort Smith Ark.- west is poor, east is rich (contrary)- though south/north cleavage equally important
St. Louis- west is rich, east is poor (fits)
Miami- north/south more important (rich south poor north)- probably because in coastal cities proximity to water determines wealth.
Cleveland- no real pattern; rich areas in both east and west.
Places further out tend to be richer, with richest areas just barely inside the Cuyahoga County line while both closer-in and further-out areas less affluent.
Buffalo- center (between Niagara River and city line) is rich, east and west sides both poorer. But in suburbs, east side richer.
Atlanta- as in Miami, north/south much more important than east/west (north rich, south poor).
Philadelphia- west side richer (fits)
Carbondale, IL- as in Miami, south richer, north poor- no real east/west pattern.
Jacksonville, FL- ditto

Irvin Dawid's picture

East Palo Alto, East St. Louis

both are incorporated cities, separate from their namesake cities, smaller in size, and considerably poorer, dominated by minorities. The former is in a different county (San Mateo, CA) while the latter in a different state (Ill). Any other east cities come to mind? How about East Berlin before the nation unified?

Then there's East NY - in Brooklyn - poorer than Manhattan, as are other communities in Brooklyn - but why include 'East' in their name rather than using a new name entirely???

But blaming it on prevailing winds? Na, just doesn't seem right...then again...

Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

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