Bamboo Charlie: homeless man builds toy-filled refuge

"I love the expression on people's faces when they come here," says "Bamboo Charlie" Walker in this Los Angeles Times profile. "A homeless man with toys? Whoa!"

For the better part of 18 years, Charles Ray Walker, a homeless man from Houston, has made his home near the junctions of the 5, 10, 60 and 101 freeways in Boyle Heights, on a plot with a shock of green bamboo trees. There, he grows nectarines, peaches and strawberries and displays a collection of found objects.
Here's video, here's a photo gallery of his amazing abode and meticulously arranged found object collection, and here is the interview.


  1. And of course now that the newspaper has put him in the spotlight, the city will try to evict him…

  2. “They can’t believe I have toys!” Charlie told reporters as he led children into his lair.

  3. After 18 years in one location, and having so well established himself, he’s really more houseless than homeless.

    1. You could argue that, but he does seem to identify himself as a homeless person. He’s residing on that patch of land with the owner’s permission.

  4. As happy I am to hear about this man making a cruel world work, I worry that the filth-ridden cesspool of the internet will now find him and hurt him somehow.

    I wish they had omitted the directions to his little paradise. Nobody with good intentions needs to know where he lives…

  5. Yeah, my first thought was ‘leave bamboo charlie alone!’

    Then figured that the people that would do him harm don’t read so good most likely. .

    So: Give Bamboo Charlie some money! :)

  6. Ah, toys…how pathetic when discarded.

    It IS nice that they have found a new “home”, kinda.

  7. the property owner told him he could stay there if he kept it clean

    He also grows potatoes, strawberries, pumpkins, watermelons, peppers, okra and other fruits and vegetables.

    Walker cleared some of the bamboo with a machete and built his plywood shack

    After three years, Walker grew bored and came back to L.A. and his bamboo yard.

    Sounds like he’s doing exactly what he wants to do in life and liking it. If only the other 99% of the world population were so lucky.

  8. Charlie is truly a legend,he has done so much to his land. He improves on it everyday and keeps it clean. He is not a homeless person. He has a home that is truly art. Please show love to BAMBOO CHARLIE.

  9. You’re lucky he even performed for you bastards! Leave Bamboo Charlie Alone. PLEASE!

  10. Arundo donax is not bamboo. If you care about riparian ecology you should learn a little about Arundo.

  11. He’s been there without being told to leave and he’s improved the property. He has squatters rights at this point.

  12. @ SKR #6 and Anon #18:

    Pic #5 from the photo gallery site does show Arundo; but pic #1 (above) is a bamboo. Note the pronounced nodes just above Charlie’s nose in pic #1, which are not present on Arundo.

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