Compton is a city in southern Los Angeles County, California, United States,[1] southeast of downtown Los Angeles. The city of Compton is one of the oldest cities in the county and on May 11, 1888, was the eighth city to incorporate. The city is considered part of the South side by residents of Los Angeles.[2] As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 96,455.[3] It is known as the "Hub City" due to its geographic centrality in Los Angeles County.[1] Neighborhoods in Compton include: Sunny Cove, Leland, Downtown Compton, and the Richland Farms.



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 Dickenson 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.[1] 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.[1]

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 [4] 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.[1]

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.[4]

The 1920s saw the opening of the Compton Airport. Compton Junior College was founded and city officials moved to a new City Hall on Alameda Street.[1] On March 10, 1933, a devastating earthquake caused many casualties, schools were destroyed and there was major damage to the central business district.[1] While it would eventually be home to a large number of African Americans, in 1930 there was only one black resident.[5] 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.[4]

During the 1950s and 1960s, after the Supreme Court declared all racially exclusive housing covenants (title deeds) unconstitutional in the case Shelley v. Kraemer, the first African American families moved to the area. [6] 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. [6] 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. [6]


Douglas Dollarhide made history in Compton in 1969 when he became California's first African-American mayor of a metropolitan city. [6] Two African-Americans and one Mexican-American were also elected to the local school board. [6] 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.Template:Citation needed

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, Cerritos, Paramount and Norwalk in the late 1950s. These nearby communities remained largely white early on despite integration.[7] This move was even further precipitated after the Watts Riots in 1965 and 1992 Los Angeles riots.[8]

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.[9]


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 a reduction in 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.[10]

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. (see list List of people from Compton, California#Arts and entertainment) 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.[11]

Some episodes of the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air took place in Compton because Will Smith's friend Jazz lived there.[12] Many well-known NBA players attended high school in the city as well. DeMar DeRozan attended Compton High School, and Tayshaun Prince, Tyson Chandler and Brandon Jennings attended Dominguez High.[13]

Compton has a growing Pacific Islander, Filipino and Vietnamese community. West Compton and unincorporated Willowbrook have more middle class African Americans than the central city (west of Alameda St.) and unincorporated East Compton, the latter of which has a higher number of Hispanics and working-class African Americans. Lower-income subsections on Compton Boulevard have many businesses owned by Latinos.


In 2010, the CQ Press, using data from the FBI's annual report of crime statistics "Crime in the United States 2010," ranked Compton as the 8th most dangerous city in the country.[14] The city used to be notorious for gang violence, primarily caused by the Bloods, the Crips, and Sureños gangs that are allied with the Mexican drug cartels.

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 wealthy 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, Tongans, Koreans, Filipinos, Belizeans and East Africans.[15]

Compton had 75 murders in 2005, which is significantly higher than the national average on a per capita basis. 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.[16] 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.[17]

During 2006, Compton deployed twice as many sheriff's deputies and the murder rate has steadily decreased in the last decade.[18] 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.[18] However, recent reports show that Compton's violent crime rate has been reduced by 30% over the last ten years.[19]

"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." [20]

Compton Cricket ClubEdit

Main article: Compton Cricket Club

The Compton Cricket Club (CCC), 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 totally consists 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."[21]

The team has traveled to England and has collaborated with several Australian charities for its proposed exhibition tour. Due to financial difficulties in building a cricket pitch in Compton, the team utilizes various fields in the Greater Los Angeles Area.[22]

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