SKID ROW – April 2010

Ever wonder about the origin of the term “Skid Row”? Most larger towns have one. (Not our adorable little Andes, though ”Cottage Row” in the old days was considered a shabby stretch).

Listening to an account on NPR of a down and out neighborhood in Vancouver, B.C. bordering Olympic City, one of the original “Skid Roads,” I learned where the term came from. The skid roads were built in the Pacific Northwest in the late 19th century to bring timber to market. The logs, known as skids, were laid across the road every 5 or 6 feet so that timber could be hauled by horses without getting stuck in mud. The lumbermen, mostly single and nomadic and often out of work, congregated here, and no doubt caroused. Derelicts and vagrants felt comfortable in these squalid districts. These days the phenomenon is no longer localized, and “road” is changed to “row.” ~