phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Wrong Side of the Tracks

Posted by J knows on June 03, 2004

In Reply to: Wrong Side of the Tracks posted by EndlessSea on June 03, 2004

: What is the origin of the phrase "From The Wrong Side Of The Tracks?"

: It means from the bad side of town, and refers to lower class people.

In many American towns, the railroad tracks run through the center of town, and the homes downwind (prevailing winds) of the tracks usually received a disproportionate share of the smoke and soot from the train engines, especially in the early RR days when the engines were dirtier. So the real estate on the upwind side became more valuable than on the downwind side, and eventually the demographics followed...the more affluent built nicer houses, lived together, etc. etc. on the right (upwind) side of the tracks. This pattern was repeated in thousands of cities and towns. In most places, eventually there was a right side and a wrong side of the tracks.