It's crime-ridden. There is no sense of community. Parents don't care about their children. All the kids who come from there are gang members.
The place has a "bad rap" -- it's a rough area.
Those are some of the stereotypes about South Merced, a neighborhood many describe as being bounded by Highway 99 to the north and east, West Avenue to the west and Mission Avenue to the south.
However, the neighborhood is just like any other in Merced.
Parents hope for the best for their children, business owners are trying to eke out a living in a competitive market and still other residents reminisce about a South Merced that once was.
With all its social and economic issues, South Merced and its 3,504 residents have been the focus of recent public efforts by city officials and activists who want to solve the neighborhood's woes.
A mix of blacks, Latinos, Chinese and Hmong immigrants have put down roots for decades in South Merced.
Each group brought its unique culture and sense of togetherness to the area.
From the 1870s to the 1950s, the neighborhood saw an influx of Chinese immigrants who settled near West 14th Street between K and M streets, turning it into the city's Chinatown, said Sarah Lim, Merced County Courthouse Museum director.
The Chinese people came to build the railroads. By 1920, the first generation of Chinese immigrants had died, and then Highway 99's construction in the 1950s wiped out that section of town, according to Lim. Many former residents moved to the Bay Area.
In the 1920s, while a second generation of Chinese-Americans pursued higher education and moved to Los Angeles or the other parts of California, the first group of blacks came to settle around what is now known as Martin Luther King Jr. Way along Childs Avenue and around Tyler Road near Mission Avenue. They continued to settle in the area until the 1940s, she said.
"They found jobs to pick cotton, mostly farm laborers," said Lim.
About two decades later, Mexican farm laborers settled in South Merced to work in the fields.
The first group of Hmong refugees came in the 1970s after they had fought with the CIA during the Vietnam War, Lim said. They continued to settle in the city until the 1990s.
Almetres Huddleston remembers growing up in a South Merced that had no streetlights, and McNamara Park was undeveloped with trees that had no leaves.
Huddleston, who moved in 1947 from Oklahoma, came to Merced to live with a brother who already had a restaurant, bar, beauty shop and meeting hall up and running.
A sense of community, which was prevalent when Huddleston was growing up, isn't as evident in the neighborhood now, she said.
"The community is not as close knit as it was," she said. That's because many of the older residents died and their children left.
In the 1960s and 1970s, families began to move away.
Back then, the neighborhood had copious potholes and people usually left their garbage cluttered in alleyways.
"It's better now than it was then, because the city didn't furnish a lot of the necessities over here, like street-lights, curbs and gutters, garbage pick up. Things like that. It was kind of like it wasn't a priority," recalled Huddle-ston, 80.
Despite some improvements, she said, there are still roads in the area that need attention. "Things are neglected," Huddleston said.
But even though some problems persist to this day, Huddleston still insists that it's not a bad place.
"There are a lot of good people everywhere," she said.