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Compton gets its TARGET

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The first time I was in Compton, I didn't even know it until later when I was at a restaurant looking at the menu and noticed the address. It appeared the world's stereotype was wrong, maybe gone or I just happened to be in the "right" part of town.

"Compton is beautiful, there are horse ranches there," a co-worker who grew up there told me at a previous job a few years before my unexpected visit last year for an event production job. While I didn't see any horse ranches, I did see signs of development.

This weekend marked a huge step for Compton's economy -- TARGET opened, expecting to bring in $2 million in tax revenue and 1300 new jobs. Compton has the highest unemployment rate in the county with a quarter of its population, 100,000, living below the poverty level. Also known as the murder capital, this year the city has the lowest homicide rate in 20 years.

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LA Times columnist Sandy Banks compared Compton's TARGET opening with that of Granada Hills, which opened the same night in the northern tip of the San Fernando Valley:

...I stood in a newly paved parking lot with hundreds of others, celebrating the opening of the Target store at the new Gateway Towne Center, Compton's first full-fledged shopping complex. A high school marching band, choir and majorettes performed. A parade of politicians and developers gave speeches; Target managers wore tuxedos, and a pair of pastors prayed in Spanish and English. "We deserve this, like any other city," the English-speaking preacher said, as heads bowed. "Thank God for this Target."


On the same night of the Compton celebration, a grand opening was held in the San Fernando Valley for the newly built Target in Granada Hills. There was no marching band, no thanking God for another place to shop, no politician proclaiming this "A great day for Los Angeles," as County Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke did in Compton.

But then, there was also no phalanx of law enforcement officers standing guard. On opening night in Compton, deputies were everywhere [LA Times].

Banks was so right when she titled the story "One city's status quo is another city's triumph." What a difference 60 miles makes.

Previously on LAist: Christmas in Compton

Photos by foundphotoslj, who has quite an extensive archive of life in Compton, via Flickr.