One day I googled the words and I got the meanings and I remembered them as below

  • East side = poor city
  • West side = rich city

Is this correct? I want to know the historical, cultural background of those words and what they really mean in the real life of America and who uses the words usually ( tugs or gansters or ordinary people? ). I especially hear one of the words in some music from time to time.

"East side lovers living on the west end" from Red hot chili peppers - Can't stop

"He used to meet me on the Eastside, the city where the sun don't set" from Benny Blanco, Khalid, Halsey - Eastside

  • "west end" and "west side" are typically not the same thing - "west end" means the western part of the centre or downtown area (within the UK it nearly always means an area of central London, unless qualified by another city); while west side means the western part of the city as a whole. – Stuart F Jun 25 '19 at 9:05
  • The phrase is probably familiar to many from the chorus of The Sidewalks of New York: youtube.com/watch?v=XwUQTCJTuqI And it is a name of that song, as well as the name of several movies from the 40s, youtube.com/watch?v=MSvqcejnqD0 But I can't help you with rich/poor associations. – Greg Lee Jun 25 '19 at 9:51
  • In New York City, the Upper East Side (of Manhattan) has long been the wealthiest area. The Lower East Side has been poorer for most of recent history. – Global Charm Jun 25 '19 at 14:19

Usage of the terms started in London and other industrial cities after the industrial revolution.

The sudden increase in the burning of coal for both industrial and domestic use created a huge pollution problem. As the prevailing winds in the temperate zones are from the west, the smoke blew to the eastern parts of the cities. Within a few decades the eastern parts of cities were dirtier and more polluted than the west.

Very quickly, those with money moved to the West End and those without were left in the poor accommodation of the East End.

In turn, the terms East End and West End became associated with social standing and, by extension, crime rate.

A description of the distribution of "The Great Stink" in London is given by the Museum of London.

The problem is by no means unique to London. At the time of the industrial revolution, most cities with such problems were in areas with prevailing westerly winds.

  • 1
    I have to think with London, the association predates coal, given the flow of the Thames; winds are only one part of the equation. In Washington, D.C. the sooty, flood-prone, industrial corner lay along the C&O Canal well to the west of the city's commercial core. Only in the mid-20th century did perceptions flip, to the point where the defunct Canal's terminus lent its name to a luxury development to the east that attracted no less than the DNC. Georgetown and Watergate have very different connotations now. – choster Jun 25 '19 at 17:40

These "sides" are referring to the east side or west side of specific cities. These terms usage are therefore not able to be used with all cities. However, LA is a very popular place for musicians to come from and reference; both songs you mentioned are most likely referencing LA, which has a specific area called Eastside.

Another common "Direction"-named neighborhood is Chicago's South Side.

These neighborhoods have become ubiquitous in media that it is sometimes no longer necessary to reference the city, but just use the neighborhood.

To give a counter-example the city that I am from, Cincinnati, the West side is typically viewed as less wealthy than the East side.

Typically these words are used just as any other geographic region or area would be used.

  • A good example from the UK is the difference between the West End of London and the West End of Derby. Not long ago the West End of Derby was quite depressingly poor as exemplified by the song The King of Rome about a racing pigeon. The first time most British people hear this song the line "When you're living in the West End there ain't many dreams come true" sounds almost shocking. – BoldBen Jun 25 '19 at 8:54

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