Commerce of all sorts, licit and illicit, exchanged hands in the recesses of the ghetto district, a hub of business activity in a de-facto unregulated free enterprise zone. By most reputable accounts from intimate encounters, physical conditions were deplorable and the housing stock deteriorating. A swarm of arriving aliens, oven-like summer heat, refuse piling up in alleys and on streets, a public health crisis, non-existent city services, and negligent landlords were among the malignant conditions.

What the ghetto might have been,” mused Clara Laughlin,“one dared not try to imagine” if the more affluent had not moved beyond it.  On a scorching day, the streets were “thick with humanity” rendering even the most basic human need a business opportunity. “The hokey-pokey man, the vendors of water-melon slices, the dispensers of penny soda-water and pink pop; did thriving business; and beer disappeared like streams in a thirsty desert; rivers of it ran and slaked no thirst.”   bjb