Compton is a city in southern Los Angeles County, California, United States, situated south of downtown Los Angeles. Compton is one of the oldest cities in the county and on May 11, 1888, was the eighth city to incorporate. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city had a total population of 96,456. It is known as the “Hub City” due to its geographic centrality in Los Angeles County. Neighborhoods in Compton include Sunny Cove, Leland, Downtown Compton, and Richland Farms. The city is generally a working class community, with some middle-class neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods, and is home to a relatively young population, at an average 25 years of age, compared to the American median age of 38 (based on 2018 data).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 10.1 square miles (26 km). 10.0 square miles (26 km) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km) of it (1.03%) is water.
Compton is bordered by the unincorporated Willowbrook on the north and northwest, the unincorporated West Compton on the west, the city of Carson on the southwest, the unincorporated Rancho Dominguez on the south, the city of Long Beach on the southeast, the city of Paramount and the unincorporated East Compton on the east, and by the city of Lynwood on the northeast.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Compton had a population of 96,455. The population density was 9,534.3 people per square mile (3,681.2/km²). The racial makeup of Compton was 31,688 (32.9%) Black; 24,942 (25.9%) White, (0.8% Non-Hispanic White); 655 (0.7%) Native American; 292 (0.3%) Asian; 718 (0.7%) Pacific Islander; 34,914 (36.2%) from other races; and 3,246 (3.4%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 62,669 persons (65.0%).
The Census reported that 95,700 people (99.2% of the population) lived in households, 643 (0.7%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 112 (0.1%) were institutionalized.
There were 23,062 households, out of which 13,376 (58.0%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 10,536 (45.7%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 6,373 (27.6%) had a female householder with no husband present, 2,354 (10.2%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1,725 (7.5%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 158 (0.7%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 2,979 households (12.9%) were made up of individuals and 1,224 (5.3%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 4.15. There were 19,263 families (83.5% of all households); the average family size was 4.41.
The age distribution of the population was as follows: 31,945 people (33.1%) under the age of 18, 11,901 people (12.3%) aged 18 to 24, 26,573 people (27.5%) aged 25 to 44, 18,838 people (19.5%) aged 45 to 64, and 7,198 people (7.5%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28.0 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.7 males.
There were 24,523 housing units at an average density of 2,424.0 per square mile (935.9/km²), of which 12,726 (55.2%) were owner-occupied, and 10,336 (44.8%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.9%; the rental vacancy rate was 5.9%. 53,525 people (55.5% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 42,175 people (43.7%) lived in rental housing units.
During 2009–2013, Compton has a median household income of $42,953, with 26.3% of the population living below the federal poverty line.
Following the 1965 Watts Riot, crime in Compton rose sharply as more middle class residents fled. By 1969, it had the highest crime rates in the state of California. Three years later, the city, with a population of just under 80,000 residents, recorded 46 murders, making it the highest per-capita murder rate in the United States. Compton’s violent reputation reached the national spotlight in the late 1980s with the prominent rise of local gangsta rap groups Compton’s Most Wanted and N.W.A, the latter of whom released the album Straight Outta Compton in 1988. The city became notorious for gang violence, primarily caused by the Bloods and Crips. In 2013, the homicide rate was 36.8 per 100,000 residents, a decrease from the 1990s peak. Guns are used in the vast majority of homicides in Compton. Between 2000 and 2016, 91.5% were killed with guns compared to the national average of 67.7%. In 2015 there was a record low of 15 homicides while the homicide rate in the rest of the US increased.
The neighborhood lost residents with the worsening safety problems and, after the 1992 riots in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, many people of color left the city.
Although U.S. News & World Report did not list Compton in the 2011 “11 Most Dangerous Cities” for overall crime rates in the United States, it contrasts the CQ Press, using data from the FBI’s annual report of crime statistics “Crime in the United States 2010,” which ranked Compton as having the eighth highest crime rate in the country.
Compton experienced a drop in homicide in the late 1990s and 2000s. Crime has stabilized overall in the 2010s. The decrease in homicides has been attributed to various factors, including faster response times by police (reducing shots fired) and better medical care (increasing survival rates). The new mayor elected in 2013 has helped to settle turf wars between the gangs, which has further reduced the homicide rate.
From 1999 to 2004, Compton’s murder rate averaged at around 49 murders per 100,000 annually. In 2005 the city experienced an almost 45% increase in murders, although the annual numbers had dropped significantly in the prior three years. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department began the annual “Gifts for Guns” program within that same year where the citizens of Compton were given the option to turn in firearms and receive a $50–$100 check for various goods in an effort to combat gun violence. 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.