“In the middle of the night, I got up because I couldn’t sleep…and examined the L.A. night. What brutal, hot, siren-whining nights they are! Right across the street there was trouble. An old rickety rundown rooming house was the scene of some kind of tragedy. The cruiser was pulled up below and the cops were questioning an old man with gray hair. Sobbings came from within. I could hear everything, together with the hum of my hotel neon. I never felt sadder in my life. L.A. is the loneliest and most brutal of American cities; New York gets god-awful cold in the winter but there’s a feeling of wacky comradeship somewhere in some streets. L.A. is a jungle.”

From Chapter 13, On the Road by JACK KEROUAC (originally published in 1957)

Photo: Skid Row, Los Angeles, 1955. (From the Los Angeles ExaminerNegatives Collection, 1950-1961. Digitally reproduced by the University of Southern California Digital Archive. More information here.)