Friday, April 06, 2012

Retro Friday: The Battle of Chavez Ravine

As the 50th anniversary of Dodger Stadium approaches, the L.A. Times re-visited the eviction of Chavez Ravine, widely seen as a black eye in the city's history (particularly in its treatment of Latino residents). The story interviews some of the surviving former residents of Chavez Ravine, and notes:

The Dodgers' move to Los Angeles in 1958 — playing their first several years at the Coliseum — was a seminal event, heralding what many saw as the city's arrival in the big leagues of world metropolises. But the removal of more than 1,000 mostly Mexican American families from Chavez Ravine to make way for the stadium is a dark note in L.A.'s history.

The last family was dragged away kicking and screaming and weeping, and the removals became a rallying symbol of Latino L.A. history and activism.

Many of the people evicted are long dead, but there are still more than a few aging witnesses to the episode.

An ill-fated attempt to build public housing on the land is what first led to Chavez Ravine's demise. But after those plans were scrapped, the decision was made not to allow residents to return. Above, a thorough history (with some great pics) of the story of Chavez Ravine.

1 comment:

Bob Timmermann said...

The residents weren't allowed to return for the most part because the terms of the agreement of the City of Los Angeles buying the property back from the Housing Authority (which is a state agency) prohibited the condemned property to be used for housing. In other words, you couldn't condemn land to build public housing, and then have the government change its mind and give it to private developers.

So the property had to be used, under Federal law, for a "public purpose." There was some debate about what that meant. Some wanted to move the zoo over to Chavez Ravine. Another idea was to use the area as a cemetery. Neither panned out.

Eventually, the city hit upon the idea of having a baseball stadium being put on the site. The Dodgers had proposed such an idea in New York, but Robert Moses didn't agree. The L.A. City Council didn't mind and so the Dodgers got their stadium.

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