The Compton Ghetto:
From a Suburb to a Home of Compton Gangs
Nicknamed Hub City, the California city of Compton has for long been associated with popular culture, from being mentioned in movies to producing world famous Hip Hop artist like Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, and Eazy-E.
A city that sits just south of the city limits of Los Angeles, Compton has always had close ties to California’s largest city, especially with the community of Watts as the two areas have created a bond of “The Hub & The Dub”.
While the metropolitan of Los Angeles City and County has multiple communities and ‘hoods that have influenced society, not many can come close to what Compton’s influence has had on numerous cultures worldwide.
During the rise of NWA, which included Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, MC Ren and DJ Yella, the city of Compton had already been well established within the streets of California as Compton Crips and Piru’s ruled the streets throughout Compton, from the East Side to the West Side.
With the Piru’s based along Rosecrans and the Compton Crips in surrounding areas, Compton gangs once occupied or controlled ever corner of Compton, even with the rise of Compton Varrio’s as Compton’s Mexican population is constantly growing.
What started out as two small areas quickly expanded ‘hood to ‘hood as the Compton Crips first begun off Alondra, between Wilmington and Central, as the Grandees and the Piru’s begun around Piru Street and Parmelee Avenue, which is near the intersection Central and Rosecrans.
The Compton gangs like the Piru’s originally started as the Piru Crips, which was short lived, but were rivals with Compton Crips which would eventually lead to the change of the Piru’s removing the name of Crips from association of their neighborhood.
The Piru’s, along with a few other old school gangs of Los Angeles, were some of the main forces behind the formation of the Los Angeles Bloods, mainly due to their rival and disliking towards the Crips during the 1970s.
As stated above, what begun near the intersection of Central Avenue and Rosecrans expanded to other ‘hoods of Compton like Lueders Park or Fruit Town, as most of Compton Piru’s are centered around Rosecrans Avenue.
While the Los Angeles Crips formed on the East Side of South Central, the movement that had begun during the late 1960s would eventually make its way down to the city of Compton as Compton would later create their own movement.
The Compton Crips who begun in the Grandees, which is now the Nutty Blocc ‘hood, quickly expanded from along Alondra to sections like Carver Park and Santana Blocc as there are over twenty Compton Crip sets within the city of Compton.
Before the Compton Crips and the Piru’s became known in Compton, the city was a middle-class African-American community as black families relocated into Compton during the 1950s and 1960s from communities in South Central like Watts or areas along Central Avenue.
Before the 1950s, the city of Compton was predominantly white as this small Southern California city was founded during the late 1800s and rapidly grew throughout the years in becoming one of Los Angeles County’s largest city.
When African-Americans first arrived into Compton the majority lived in the a small that was centered around Central Avenue and Rosecrans, especially as Central Avenue was the heart of black community in the city of Los Angeles in which led many black families to the intersection of Central and Rosecrans.
The movement of African-Americans into Compton occurred after the US government stated that racially discriminated housing zones, when only a specific race can live and reside in a community, was unconstitutional.
Following the government’s decision, white flight slowly began to occur as thousands of Compton’s white residents began to leave the city beginning in the 1950s, especially after the Watts Riots of the 1960s as the growth of the black population in Compton exploded.
As previously stated, following the Watts Riots thousands of African-Americans left Watts, the Central Avenue area and other sections in the East Side of South Central as many wanted to leave the poorer areas for more affluent communities in Compton, Inglewood or on the West Side of South Central.
Fast forwarding into present day Compton, what was once a predominantly African-American community has now become a city with a Hispanic population as the majority with 66% of the residents being Mexican or Central American descent.
Along with the demographics and racial makeup changing, the streets of the Compton ghetto have become less active than the 1980s and 1990s as a new era of gang bangin’ has the people with a different state of mind.
*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.
Covey, Herbert C. Crips and Bloods: a Guide to an American Subculture. Greenwood, 2015.
Hunt, Darnell M., and Ana-Christina RamoÌn. Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities. New York University Press, 2010.
Johnson, Robert Lee. Compton. Arcadia Pub., 2012.
Williams, Stanley Tookie. Blue Rage, Black Redemption: a Memoir. Simon & Schuster, 2007.