The Los Angeles Plaza: Sacred and Contested Space

By William David Estrada | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

Devra Weber

The book you are holding is about Los Angeles’ historic heart, the Plaza, the Placita, a space of contested memories, forgotten histories and their reclamation. The Los Angeles Plaza is personal and evocative for those who grew up in the city. The book triggered my own memories of growing up in L.A. By the early 1950s, my Los Angeles–born father was taking me (and my pet of the moment) to the annual blessing of the animals at the Placita church. My mother took me to Olvera Street’s Christmas posadas, after days of carefully rehearsing songs of the posadas from a tattered songbook. Filtered through the eyes of my Anglo bohemian parents and Chicano neighbors, the Placita, Our Lady Queen of the Angels Church, and Olvera Street played a central part in forming my notion of Los Angeles and my sense that it was at its core a Mexican city. The realization that some of my notions were based on myths, stereotypes, and orchestrated dreams—well, that would come later.

The Los Angeles Plaza expands an understanding of the city for all readers. Estrada’s own multigenerational familial memories of the Placita were and are a jarring disjuncture from the institutional histories imposed on him during school trips that obliterated the Mexican L.A. he knew. The book challenges such institutional memories through an evocation of historical

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The Los Angeles Plaza: Sacred and Contested Space
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter One - Cultural and Historical Origins 15
  • Chapter Two - The Rise and Decline of the Mexican Plaza 43
  • Chapter Three - From Ciudad to City 81
  • Chapter Four - Homelands Remembered 109
  • Chapter Five - Revolution and Public Space 133
  • Chapter Six - Reforming Culture and Community 169
  • Chapter Seven - Parades, Murals, and Bulldozers 203
  • Chapter Eight - Politics and Preservation 231
  • Chapter Nine - The Persistence of Memory 259
  • Notes 271
  • Bibliography 311
  • Index 329
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