The first year of our married life, we lived in a subsidized apartment building just outside of downtown Cleveland (at that time, filled with commerce, entertainment, and possibilities).
The people who vetted the applications were careful to select poor but not criminal residents. Many of them were elderly. Some, like ourselves, were young and relatively broke. But, the general tenor of the building was a safe environment, There were parts of the building that I didn’t enter without someone else present – the laundry room was one such – and I, more than once, had to dodge one of the bums on the street, begging money.
Yeah, we called them bums then – deal with it.
Some parts of Cleveland, in the early 70s, were worse. But, compared to New York and other hellholes, they were paradise.
I don’t get the idea of rhapsodizing over “gritty urban environments”. They are not “more real” than safer places. They are just a form of Twisted Disneyland – a playground for those rich enough to leave after the thrill.
Over the next decade and a half, my husband dragged us from one city place to another – in each case, he would dump me (after a few years) with kids and no car, while he toddled off to work. I was the one who had to find ways to entertain kids, navigate the city bus system in sometimes horrible weather, and while away the time before he’d come home – often well after dark.
Eventually, we started renting/buying in safer neighborhoods. I had learned to drive by then, and had purchased a car for my own use. That gave me much more control over my life, and allowed me to shop, go to the doctor’s, and transport kids without keeping an eye out for street dwellers or pickpockets.
Safe transportation is a MINIMUM need for city dwellers and commuters. It is not “racist” to arrest and incarcerate those causing disruption and committing crimes. And, when ‘turnstile jumping’ is not punished and prevented, it gives would-be hoodlums – you know, those ‘kids’ not doing nothin’ – a cost-free way to scout out the adjacent environments for easy money or ‘fun’. Without the opportunity to travel for free, a cost would be imposed on that aimless cruising. Many of the younger ones might just stay home. and out of trouble.