Compton is a city located in Southern Los Angeles County, California, USA, southeast of downtown Los Angeles. The city was incorporated in 1888. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 93,493. Although considered a suburb of Los Angeles, Compton is often labeled as an "inner-city" community primarily due to poverty and the elevated crime rate found in the city. Compton is known for being a city with one of the highest violent crime rates in the United States. In 2006, the Morgan Quitno Corporation rated Compton as the most dangerous city with a population of 75,000 to 99,999, and 4th most dangerous overall. Compton also has a homicide rate about eight times higher than the national average, most of which are gang killings. Economic conditions and Compton's location as the center of the South Bay "ghettos" make crime prevention more difficult. Crime has not been as severe as it was in the 1980s and early 1990s, during the crack (cocaine) epidemic. Compton had 72 murders in 2005, which is a per capita rate significantly higher than the national average for small cities. Recently in an effort to combat this gun violence the Compton citizens were given the option to hand over their guns to the police, and receive a $100 check for various goods. The police have to this date (25 Dec 2005) received over 200 guns. During 2006, Compton has deployed twice as many Sheriff deputies and the murder rate has decreased from 22 in 4 months, to just 5. The city has, at times, been notorious for gang violence. Many gangs exist which have both African Americans and Latinos as members, however, the Crips and the Bloods are the most well-known gangs in the area. Disputes between the two gangs have been recreated in various films. Compton's violent reputation was perhaps popularized by the rise to prominence of the local gangsta rap group N.W.A. during the late 1980s.
- 1 History
- 2 Culture
- 3 News
- 4 Crime/Gangs
- 5 Compton Cricket Club
- 6 Government
- 7 Government Controversies
- 8 Geography
- 9 Demographics
- 10 Education
- 11 Economy
- 12 Historical Landmarks
- 13 Transportation
- 14 City Sites
- 15 Famous People From Compton
- 16 See Also=
- 17 References
- 18 Further Reading
- 19 External Links
In 1784, the Spanish Crown deeded a tract of over 75,000 acres (304 km²) to Juan Jose Dominguez in this area. The tract was named Rancho San Pedro. Dominguez's name was later applied to the Dominguez Hills community south of Compton. The tree that marked the original northern boundary of the rancho still stands at the corner of Poppy and Short streets. The rancho was sub-divided and parcels were sold within the Californios of Alta California until the lands were ceded after the Mexican-American war in 1848. American immigrants acquired most of the rancho lands after 1848.
In 1867, Griffith D. Compton led a group of thirty pioneers to the area. These families had traveled by wagon train south from Stockton, California in search of ways to earn a living other than in the rapid exhaustion of gold fields. Originally named Gibsonville, after one of the tract owners, it was later called Comptonville. However, to avoid confusion with the Comptonville located in Yuba County, the name was shortened to Compton. Compton’s earliest settlers were faced with terrible hardships as they farmed the land in bleak weather to get by with just the barest subsistence. The weather continued to be harsh, rainy and cold, and fuel was difficult to find. To gather firewood it was necessary to travel to mountains close to Pasadena. The round trip took almost a week. Many in the Compton party wanted to relocate to a friendlier climate and settle down. But there were only two general stores within traveling distance, one in the pueblo of Los Angeles, the other in Wilmington, so they eventually made the decision to stay put.
By 1887, the settlers realized it was time to make improvements to the local government. A series of town meetings were held to discuss incorporation of their little town. Griffith D. Compton donated his land to incorporate and create the city of Compton in 1889, but he did stipulate that a certain acreage be zoned solely for agriculture and named Richland Farms In January 1888, they forwarded a petition supporting the incorporation of Compton to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, who in turn forwarded the petition to the State Legislature. On May 11, 1888 the city of Compton was incorporated, it had a total population of 500 people. The first City Council meeting was held on May 14, 1888.
The ample residential lots of Richland Farms gave residents enough space to raise a family, and food to feed them, along with building a barn, and caring for livestock. The farms attracted the black families who had begun migrating from the rural South in the 1950s, there they found their 'home away from home' in this small community. Compton couldn't support large-scale agricultural business, but it did give the residents the opportunity to work the land for their families and for the welfare of the new community.
The 1920s saw the opening of the Compton/Woodley Airport. Compton Junior College was founded and city officials moved to a new City Hall on Alameda Street. On March 10, 1933, a devastating earthquake caused many casualties, schools were destroyed and there was major damage to the central business district. While it would eventually be home to a large number of African Americans, in 1930 there was only one black resident. In the late 1940s, middle class African-Americans began moving into the area, mostly on the west side. Compton grew quickly in the 1950s. One reason for this was Compton was close to Watts, where there was an established community of African Americans. The eastern side of the city was predominately white until the 1970s. Despite being located in the middle of a major metropolitan area, thanks to the legacy of Griffith D. Compton, there still remains one small pocket of agriculture from its earliest years.
During the 1950s and 1960s, after the United States Federal Government declared all racially exclusive housing covenants (title deeds) unconstitutional, the first African American families moved to the area. Compton's growing African American population was still largely ignored and neglected by the city's elected officials. Centennial High School was finally built to accommodate a burgeoning student population. At one time, the City Council even discussed dismantling the Compton Police Department in favor of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in an attempt to exclude blacks from law enforcement jobs. This slowly began to change when, in 1958, the first African-American ran for a City Council seat. However, it would be another three years before an African-American would actually be elected to the City Council in 1961.
Douglas Dollarhide made history in Compton in 1969 when he became California's first African-American mayor of a metropolitan city. Two African-Americans and one Mexican-American were also elected to the local school board. Four years later, in 1973, Doris A. Davis defeated Dollarhide's bid for re-election to become the first African-American female mayor of a metropolitan city in the United States. By the early 1970s, the city had one of the largest concentrations of African-Americans in the country with over ninety percent.
For many years, Compton was a much sought after neighborhood for the black middle class of Los Angeles. Now, only a few areas of Compton are still middle class communities. This past affluence is reflected in the area's appearance — Compton's streets are lined with relatively spacious and attractive single family homes. However, several factors have contributed to Compton's decline. One of the most significant factors was a steady erosion of its tax base. First by whites who fled to the newly incorporated cities of [Artesia]], Bellflower, Paramount and Norwalk in the late 1950s. These nearby communities remained largely white despite integration. This move was even further precipitated after the 1965 Watts Riots and 1992 Los Angeles Riots.
Soon, middle class blacks also found other areas more attractive to them. Some were unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County such as Ladera Heights, View Park and Windsor Hills; and others were cities such as Inglewood and, particularly, Carson. The latter was significant because it had successfully thwarted attempts at annexation by neighboring Compton. The city of Carson opted instead for incorporation in 1968, which is notable because its black population was actually more affluent than its white population. As a newer city, it also offered more favorable tax rates and lower crime.
Although Compton is still often thought of as a primarily black community, Latinos are the largest ethnic group in the city. A possible reason for this misconception is, despite the shift in population, many African American professional athletes and rappers are originally from Compton. Also, African Americans continue to dominate local politics, holding most elected positions in the city. Although an inner suburb of Los Angeles, Compton has seen an increase of middle-class residents in the last few years, due to its affordable housing and the reduction of crime. With the influx of immigrants and the demographic shift in ethnic population, it was after the 2000 U.S. Census Latinos were recognized as the majority.
Compton has been referenced on numerous occasions in gang affiliation, gangsta rap and g-funk songs, especially in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and so has attained an association not only with gang violence and crime, but with hip hop music as well. The city is known as the home of many famous rappers. Compton has evolved into a younger community, the median age of people living in Compton, was 25 at the time of the last full census survey; the United States average at the time was 35.3.
Some episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air took place in Compton because Will's friend Jazz lived there. Many well-known NBA players are from Compton, California. DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors attended Compton High School, Detroit Pistons Small Forward, Tayshaun Prince and Dallas Mavericks forward/center Tyson Chandler attended Dominguez High School in Compton. Brandon Jennings, of the Milwaukee Bucks, attended Dominguez for two years also before transferring to Oak Hill Academy before his Junior season.
Compton has a growing Pacific Islander community, as well as a number of Southeast Asians as Filipinos and Vietnamese. West Compton and unincorporated Willowbrook have more middle class African Americans than the central city (west of Alameda St.) and unincorporated East Compton where a larger percentage of Hispanics and working-class Blacks live. Lower-income subsections on Compton Blvd. have many businesses owned by Central Americans and other Latinos.
In 2008, the CQ Press, using data from the FBI's annual report of crime statistics "Crime in the United States 2008," ranked Compton as the 17th most dangerous city in the country. However, in the same year, the FBI ranked Compton to be the fifteenth most dangerous city. The city used to be notorious for gang violence, primarily caused by the Bloods/Pirus, the Crips, and Sureños gangs that are allied with the Mexican Mafia.
Compton's violent reputation was popularized in the late 1980s by the rise to prominence of local gangsta rap groups Compton's Most Wanted and especially N.W.A., who released the famous album Straight Outta Compton in 1988. Crime rates had been falling for years following the Crack epidemic of the 1980s and early 1990s.
Crime, though present in lesser degrees beforehand, worsened significantly with the introduction of Crack/Cocaine in the latter part of the 20th century. The neighborhood lost richer residents, with the worsening safety problems, and, after the 1992 riots in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, many African Americans left the city. Meanwhile, many Latino and other immigrant families moved into Compton, including Samoans, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, Belizeans and East Africans.
Compton had 75 murders in 2005, which is a per capita rate significantly higher than the national average. That same year, in an effort to combat gun violence, the citizens of Compton were given the option to hand over their guns to the police and receive a $50–$100 check for various goods, called the Gifts for Guns Program. People have turned in about 7,000 guns over the last few years, KABC-TV reported. The program's success has prompted the LASD to expand the program county-wide.
During 2006, Compton deployed twice as many sheriff's deputies and the murder rate has steadily decreased in the last decade. Compton's property crime levels tend to be about the same as the average California city. The same data shows violent crime, including arson, levels in Compton tend to be higher than California's average level. However, latest reports show that Compton's violent crime rate has been reduced by 30% over the last ten years.
"I believe the Compton Police Department could come back," Sheriff Lee Baca told the Compton City Council in December 2010, "I also say that in order to do this with the financial stability that is necessary, you probably shouldn't do it now."
Piru/Blood Gangs in Compton
Compton Crip Gangs
Hispanic Gangs in Compton
Compton Cricket Club
Main article: Compton Cricket Club
The Compton Cricket Club nicknamed The Homies & the POPz, has also been christened America's Team and the "US Ambassadors of Good Will and Peace in the sporting world of Cricket." At this time, the CCC is the only Exhibition cricket team in the world that consists of totally of North American-born players. "The aim of playing cricket is to teach people how to respect themselves and respect authority, so they stop killing each other," says team founder, Ted Hayes. Their mission is "to curb the negative effects of gang activities amongst the youth of Compton, South Central Los Angeles, and all inner cities, and to address homelessness through the principles and ethics of cricket." The team has traveled to England three times and has collaborated with several Australian charities for its proposed exhibition tour. The CCC will be the only team from the United States to ever compete Down Under. The CCC is also still struggling to raise funds to construct a cricket pitch (field) on its own home turf, because there is currently no such facility in Compton. To practice, the team has to travel to various fields in Los Angeles.
After Lionel Cade, an accountant, assumed the mayor's office in 1977, one of the first orders of business was to conduct an audit of the city's finances. It was discovered that the city was $2 million in debt. The administration was able to eliminate the huge deficit in one year by making cuts in every department. It also aggressively sought federal funding to help pay for essential services, which was at least partially effective. However, with the passage of the property tax cutting initiative Proposition 13 by California voters, Compton was one of the cities hardest hit, since it had already eliminated most of the fat from its budget.
County, state and federal representation
In the state legislature Compton is located in the 25th Senate District, represented by Democrat Edward Vincent, and in the 52nd Assembly District, represented by Democrat Isadore Hall, III. Federally, Compton is located in California's 37th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +27 and is represented by Democrat Laura Richardson.
The United States Postal Service operates the Compton Post Office at 701 South Santa Fe Avenue the Hub City Post Office at 101 South Willowbrook Avenue, and the Fashion Square Post Office at 2100 North Long Beach Boulevard.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department operates the Compton Station in Compton. When the LACSD replaced the Compton Police Department in 2000, they increased patrol service hours from 127,410, to 141, 692. Compton Station is centrally located in the Los Angeles area. The station is easily accessible from the (105) Interstate Century Freeway to the north, the (91) Califonia Highway Riverside/Artesia Freeway to the south, the (110) Interstate Harbor Freeway to the west, and the (710) Interstate Long Beach Freeway to the east. Diane Walker, a 30-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, was promoted to the rank of Captain by Sheriff Lee Baca, and is now Commander of Compton Station. There is also a LACSD substation located in the Gateway Towne Center.
Civic corruption has also been a widespread problem in Compton. In the early 1990s, United States Attorney Joey Chin conducted a series of investigations, centered on a phony waste-to-energy scheme, that ultimately ensnared a number of prominent elected officials.
In 2000, the Compton Police Department was disbanded amidst controversy and charges of corruption. The police department claims it was disbanded after investigations of gang activity led to then-Compton Mayor Omar Bradley. Once this became public, the mayor charged it was the police who were themselves corrupt, and he disbanded the police department. Omar Bradley has since faced serious corruption charges. Regardless of the situation, an alternative form of law enforcement was sought. Compton's policing needs are currently served by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Eric J. Perrodin, the city's current mayor, was investigated in 2007 by the California State Bar for threatening to violate a local newspaper's first amendment rights after the paper printed an investigative report relative to a contract granted to one of Perrodin's associates. Following the report, Perrodin threatened to yank the city's advertising contract with the paper. A Times review of city records shows Perrodin was absent from city board and commission meetings nearly two-thirds of the time between July 2009 and July 2010.
Current recall efforts are a direct response from residents of the accusations of corruption of the city's mayor and council. Some of the accusations involve the issuing of city contracts to personal donors and friends. One particular accusation involved the trash and recycling contract of the city to Pacific Coast Waste and Recycling LLC in 2007, whose leadership donated large amounts of money to Perrodins political coffers.
Notices of intent to circulate recall petitions against four Compton city officials are expected to be filed in August 2010, by a group of citizens who claim corruption in Compton is being ignored by the same authorities who were shocked by the recent salary controversy in the city of Bell.
Compton has discharged its city manager for the second time in three years. The Los Angeles Times says the City Council voted in a closed meeting, September 9, 2010, to fire Charles Evans. The Times says council members refused to discuss the reasons for their decision. Evans took office in 2007, after the dismissal of previous City Manager Barbara Kilroy. City Controller Willie Norfleet will take over until a permanent manager can be named.
Compton is located at 33°53′48″N 118°13′30″W (33.896715, −118.225078). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.2 square miles (26.4 km²). 10.1 square miles (26.2 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.2 km²) of it (0.69%) is water.
It is bordered by the unincorporated Willowbrook on the north and northwest, the unincorporated West Compton on the west, the city of Carson on the southwest, the unincorporated Rancho Dominguez on the south, the city of Long Beach on the southeast, the city of Paramount and the unincorporated East Compton on the east, and by the city of Lynwood on the northeast.
East Compton, also known as East Rancho Dominguez, is a mostly industrial unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP). The population was 9,286 at the 2000 census. East Rancho Dominguez is an accepted city name according to the USPS, and shared the 90221 ZIP Code with Compton. Its sphere of influence is the city of Compton, which has tried to annex East Rancho Dominguez, but business and property owners in the area have opposed the annexation.
As of the census of 2000, there were 93,692 people, (A 2006 city census showed a growth to 95,701 people), 22,327 households, and 18,620 families residing in the city. The population density was 9,225.6 inhabitants per square mile (3,563.5/km²). There were 23,795 housing units at an average density of 2,348.0 per square mile (906.9/km²).
As of 2000, the racial makeup of the city was:
White 16.7% Black or African American 40.3% Native American and Alaska Native 0.7% Asian 0.3% Pacific Islander 1.1% Other Race 37.3% Two or more races 3.6% Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 56.8% 
There were 23,665 households out of which 49.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.9% were married couples living together, 29% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.7% were non-families. 14.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 4.16 and the average family size was 4.57.
In the city the population was spread out with 38.5% under the age of 18, 11.5% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 14.4% from 45 to 64, and 6.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 25 years. For every 100 females there were 96.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.2 males. The median income for a household in the city was $33,021, and the median income for a family was $40,021. Males had a median income of $22,698 versus $24,692 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,382 . About 21.6% of families and 23.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 33.5% of those under age 18 and 14.1% of those age 65 or over.
The city is served by Compton Unified School District. The district is a participant of the FOCUS program conducted by the University of California, Irvine. The goals of the program are to improve mathematics and science achievement by uniting the efforts of mathematics, science, education and research library faculty and staff with educators of the school district.
The CUSD provides public education for grades K-12. The district operates 24 elementary schools, eight middle schools, three high schools, and one adult school, which also serves as an alternative school. The district maintains five alternative learning schools.
The city is also served by El Camino College Compton Education Center, which offers community college courses for those planning to enter a four-year degree program, as well as those seeking further education in specific trade fields.
Reed Christian College is a non-profit private institution, located in Compton. The program lasts for less than one year, and total enrollment is approximately 120 students.
The Compton Library offers adult, children’s and Spanish language materials; reference services; a Literacy Center and a Homework Center; public computers with Internet access and word processing capabilities; public typewriters; and a bilingual story time every Saturday at 12:00 noon.
Compton was recently designated as an “Entrepreneurial Hot Spot” by Cognetics, Inc., an independent economic research firm. Compton made the national list for best places to start and grow a business, and ranked #2 in Los Angeles County out of a field of 88 cities. The city's Planning and Economic Development department provides a business assistance program consisting of a comprehensive mix of resources to small business owners and entrepreneurs. The grocery chains Ralphs, a subsidiary of Krogers, is headquartered in Compton. Gelson's Market, a subsidiary of Arden Group, Inc., a holding company, is also based there.
Compton is surrounded by multiple freeways which provide access to destinations throughout the region. The Long Beach and Los Angeles Ports are less than 20 minutes from Downtown Compton, providing access to international destinations for customers and suppliers. The Alameda Corridor, a passageway for 25% of all U.S. waterborne international trade, runs directly through Compton from north to south.
This major project represents the new wave of investing in inner cities. The center, opened in October, 2007, and brought over 1,000 local jobs to Compton. It brought much needed local services, and tax revenues to the city are up 30%, enabling economic investment throughout the city. The first phase of the mega-shopping center includes Target, Staples, Home Depot, T.G.I.Fridays, Best Buy, Ross, Panda Express, Del Taco, AT&T, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Daniel's Jewelers, Party City, Mc Donald's, Game Stop, 24-Hour Fitness Center, Wing-Stop, Ono Hawaiian BBQ, and Payless.
The Compton/Woodley Airport opened on May 10, 1924. Located on Alondra Boulevard, the airport offers flight training, has accommodations for more than 200 planes, and is home to several aviation clubs.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial: This Civic Center monument is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is surrounded by the Civic Center, Compton Court House, Compton City Hall, and Compton Library.
The Eagle Tree is a natural boundary marker of Rancho San Pedro dating back to 1858. It contains an historic marker and plaque placed by the Daughters of the Golden West in 1947.
The Heritage House was built in 1869 and is a State Historic Landmark. The oldest house in Compton, it was restored as a tribute to early settlers. It serves as an important landmark of Comptons rich history. Located at the corner of Myrrh and Willowbrook near the Civic Center Plaza, the Heritage House is a rustic-looking home that will eventually house a museum detailing early life in Compton. For now it demarks the stark difference between the simple life of the 19th century and the fast-paced urban environment of the 21st century.
"Woodlawn Cemetery" is the final resting place of 18 Civil War Veterans. It has been a Los Angeles County Historic Landmark since 1946.
Four freeways are near the city's boundaries and provide access to destinations throughout the region. These include Interstate Highways 105, 110, 710, and State Route 91.
The Metro Blue Line light rail runs north-south through the city. The Martin Luther King Jr. Transit Center is in the heart of the city, adjacent to the Renaissance Shopping Center. The Blue Line connects Compton to Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown Long Beach.
There is also a Compton Renaissance Transit System that serves the local community.
Compton/Woodley Airport is a small general aviation airport located in the city. The airport lies within busy airspace, as it is situated within a few miles of both Los Angeles International Airport and Long Beach Airport.
Collectively, these multi–faceted transportation links lend justification to the city's familiar name of "the Hub City.
The Major League Baseball Academy is a youth baseball academy providing free baseball and softball instruction to Southern California youth.
Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum is a non-traditional compilation of a living interactive museum, after-school programs, gang intervention programs and flight school.
Famous People From Compton
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1.Adams, Emily, "Bush's Compton Roots Raise Thorny Issue", Los Angeles Times, August 3, 1992, page B-1
2.Miller, Gary J., Cities by Contract: The Politics of Municipal Incorporation, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, 1981 3.Gould, Lewis L. (editor), American First Ladies: Their Lives and Their Legacy, Garland Publishing, New York and London, 1996. See pages 612–613 regarding the Bush family's "nomadic" existence in the cities of Huntington Park, Bakersfield, Whittier, Ventura and Compton, California. 4.The George Bush Presidential Library web site states that during the period from 1948 to 1951, "Bush and his family moved several times, living successively in Odessa, Texas; Ventura, Bakersfield, and Compton, California; and Midland, Texas." The web site also includes a photograph of George W. Bush in Compton, dated 1949.
City of Compton – official city website
LASD in Compton Compton Creek Watershed Management Plan Birthing A New Compton How Compton got its groove back, Newsweek 2009 Going Back to Compton