The Los Angeles Plaza: Sacred and Contested Space

By William David Estrada | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
The Rise and Decline of the Mexican Plaza

When Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, Californiaborn Mexicans assumed control of the direction and affairs of Los Angeles and the Southern California region, which prior to independence was controlled by the colonial governor. Historian Herbert Howe Bancroft noted that the reaction to Mexican independence was widespread throughout Alta California. In April 1822, public festivities included taking an oath of allegiance in the main plazas at Monterey, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and other settlements.1 The Spanish flag was lowered and the flag of independent Mexico raised at central plazas throughout Alta California. Thus, Mexican independence elevated the status and symbolic significance of the pueblo and Plaza of Los Angeles, which briefly served as the capital of Alta California. As the heart of this Mexican pueblo, the Plaza was a place where secular and religious fiestas, commerce and political life were characterized by a collective significance, unifying the pueblo and rancho, reaffirming traditional loyalties, and defining Mexican Los Angeles as a whole.2

In addition to Mexican independence, other changes were taking place in the life of the Los Angeles pueblo during the 1820s. Cattle ranching and agriculture expanded. Overall population of the pueblo increased. The local political elite grew, and popular participation in the political process in-

-43-

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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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