STOCKTON – Just putting together the two words – “south” and “Stockton” – can be polarizing.
And defining where that part of town begins and ends is no easy task.
Akkia Pride-Polk, a child-welfare division chief for San Joaquin County Human Services Agency, grew up on the south side and now works in her old neighborhood. She says, “Stockton is like two different towns.”
In 1980, then-University of the Pacific Professor Roy Childs and some of his students conducted a study of the city’s dividing lines.
There was contention over where the south side started. South of the Calaveras River? South of Harding Way? South of Charter Way?
They settled on the Crosstown Freeway and their research was titled “Twin Cities.”
Those who live south of the raised Crosstown Freeway disagree, however, on their east-west boundaries. Most agree Weston Ranch is not part of the south side.
But what about the neighborhood at the western end of 8th Street, north of Van Buskirk Golf Course and south of two-lane Highway 4? It is culturally and economically linked to the rest of south Stockton.
The strongest arguments arise trying to identify the eastern boundary. Many residents near Sousa and McKinley parks think of themselves as east-side residents as if south Stockton was somewhere else.
Among themselves, they debate whether Wilson or Airport ways form the eastern boundary.
“We keep this community tight knit. Our neighborhood works together,” said 49-year-old Joe Frazier, who spends most summer days watching out for the young people using Sousa Pool. “This is east Stockton.”
– Kevin Parrish