But sunken ships are not necessarily beyond repair. "Broadwater Farm has improved dramatically, and sections of South Tottenham, such as Downhills Park, are getting overspill from the Harringay Ladder [see `The Low-Down' below], where prices are jumping," says Clive Dickman, of Cousins estate agents.
He admits that "a stigma attaches to Tottenham, but it is no longer justified". In Mr Dickman's case it is hard to dismiss this assertion as estate-agent hyperbole, as he is one of those who has moved to London N15 from the Ladder.
Jeff Vegden, of Bairstow Eves, agrees that South Tottenham "is not the best area in the world. It is a bit on the rough side, but not terrible." He feels, too, that N15 is not much different from many other inner-city areas. "No matter where you go you get these problems. There are council estates on the edge of many nice areas."
The strengths as well as the weaknesses of the area are reflected in the sort of people buying property in South Tottenham: "Young professionals are attracted to the area because it is only 15 minutes on the Victoria Line to the West End," says Mr Dickman.
"They tend to be single or married with young children. The parents seem happy with the primary schools, but they leave when the children reach secondary school age."
Families are also deterred by the types of property available in N15. Although there are many houses, including a good number of period properties, only a small proportion are large and many of those have been converted into flats.
However, transport is good. The area is served by the tube, in the shape of the Victoria Line, and several overground rail lines. The one neighbourhood that lacks rail links is Downhills Park, on the southern edge of Broadwater Farm, but it has the compensation of containing some of N15's nicest roads and houses. And the remoteness is tempered by good bus connections.
Quite a few residential streets co-exist with light industry. Many roads are dominated by renters, not owner-occupiers. And the housing stock varies. "Victorian properties were built during different periods in that era, and the later properties are not as big or visually impressive as the early ones. Some of them are workmen's houses," says Mr Vegden. "Rental is very strong," he adds. "Yields are high because the prices are so low."
Despite the riots, then, South Tottenham is increasingly attractive to professionals. Margery Peddie, a press officer with Waltham Forest Council, was raised in South Tottenham but moved away. However, she says she would have been happy to have bought there. "I was never victimised by crime, even though I grew up near Broadwater Farm and I lived there during the riots," she comments. "I never even saw any crime during the nearly 20 years I lived there."
Mr Vegden believes that, "being just outside the chosen area, we will always be popular because of price. The Harringay Ladder will pull South Tottenham up by its bootlaces."