This term for a run-down area of a town where the unemployed, vagrants, alcoholics, tend to congregate is American in origin. It comes from an older term, skid road, referring to a logging road paved with tree trunks, or skids. From the 1880 New York Adirondack Survey:
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Advised that lumbermen had cut “skid roads” on which logs were drawn..., I changed the route.
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