Watts, Los Angeles, CA

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The Short Watts Ghetto Story

A large community located on the East Side of Los Angeles’ South Central was first established during the late 1800s and would become one of the first neighborhoods that blacks would move into when many first arrived.

From the early 1900s to the 1960s, blacks from southern states like Texas, Louisiana, or Mississippi relocated into Los Angeles during what was known as the Great Migration, which was black families looking for better lives outside of the south.

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The Jordan Downs housing complex of the Watts ghetto.

With the influx of new arrivals, the city would eventually build the majority of Los Angeles’ housing projects, other than complexes that were built in East L.A., in the Watts community.

Years of mistreatment by society, from the police to the public officials of Los Angeles not providing proper resources or upkeep for the community, led to the Watts Riot of 1965.

After days of rioting, over 30 people were killed, thousands were either injured or arrested, and millions of dollars worth damage was done to the community and surrounding areas.


Gangs of Watts

While Watts gangs have been in Los Angeles since around the 1960s and 70s, like the Green Jackets, the streets of Watts ghetto became heavily active from the 1980s into the 2000s with some of the biggest hoods and gangs of L.A. being in the Watts ghetto.

Hacienda Village, around 103rd and Compton Ave.

Nickerson Gardens, home to the Watts gangs of the Bounty Hunters

Some of the Watts gangs include Grape Street of Jordan Downs, PJ Watts of Imperial Courts, the Bounty Hunters of the Nickerson Gardens, Fudge Town around 105th and Wilmington and a few more from 92nd Street to Imperial Highway between Alameda and Avalon Blvd.

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Imperial Courts, home to the Watts gangs of PJ Watts Crips

A Mexican family walking out of an Jordan Downs unit on Grape Street.

Today, the Watts ghetto has change from previous years as the Latino population has widely taken over the community’s once predominantly black community that has dominated the neighborhood since the 1940s and 50s.


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*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.