The working title of this episode was "Cold and Distant Stars". The original teleplay, written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe, involved Sisko going back in time and ending up homeless. His claims that he was actually from the future and was the commander of a space station prompted those around him to think he was insane, and he is eventually given thorazine. This script was written by Wolfe as a commentary on the apathy of the people of the 20th Century towards the homeless. However, nobody was very happy with the script, including Wolfe himself, until Behr came up with the idea of the Sanctuary Districts and the Bell Riots.
Ira Behr's inspiration to create the Bell Riots was the 1971 riot in New York's Attica Prison, which was caused primarily by inmates' demands for more humane living conditions being continually ignored by the authorities.
This is also the first of four episodes (the other three being "Past Tense, Part II", "Paradise Lost", and "Children of Time") not to feature any scenes on Deep Space 9, or show the station in any scenes (save for the opening credits), although Quark does appear briefly on the Defiant's viewscreen in his bar's backroom.
Chris Brynner, Vin, Lee and Bernardo Calvera are all named after characters from the classic 1960 film The Magnificent Seven. Brynner also takes his name from Oscar-winning actor Yul Brynner who plays Chris Adams in the film. B.C. was named after first assistant director B.C. Cameron.
Sisko tells Bashir that he could use a shave after spending a couple of days in the Sanctuary; ironically Sisko grows a goatee later this season, debuting in "Explorers" and he keeps it until the end of the series.