Poverty Row was a slang term used in Hollywood from the late 1920s through the mid-1950s to refer to a variety of small (and mostly short-lived) B moviestudios. Although many of them were on (or near) today's Gower Street in Hollywood, the term did not necessarily refer to any specific physical location, but was rather a figurative catch-all for low-budget films produced by these lower-tier studios.
The films of Poverty Row, many of which being Westerns (including series like Billy the Kid, starring Buster Crabbe from PRC) or comedy/adventure series such as those featuring the Bowery Boys (Monogram Pictures) and detectives such as The Shadow, were generally characterized by low budgets, casts made up of lower-ranked stars or unknowns, and overall production values that unintentionally betrayed the haste and economy with which they were made.
The most successful and longest-lived of such lower-tier companies maintained permanent lots (and many standing sets that dedicated moviegoers could frequently recognize from movie to movie), had both cast and crew on long-term contract, and had a more varied output than smaller firms.
Some organizations such as Astor Pictures and Realart Pictures began by obtaining the rights to re-release older films from other studios before producing their own films.
The breakup of the studio system (and its restrictive chain-theater distribution network, which left independent movie houses eager for seat-filling product from the Poverty Row studios) following 1948's United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. decision and the advent of television are among the factors that led to the decline and ultimate disappearance of "Poverty Row" as a Hollywood phenomenon. While the kinds of films produced by Poverty Row studios only grew in popularity, they were increasingly available both from major production companies and from independent producers who no longer needed to rely on a studio's ability to package and release their work.