The Los Angeles Plaza: Sacred and Contested Space

By William David Estrada | Go to book overview

CHAPTER EIGHT
Politics and Preservation

When the Great Depression waned and prosperity returned, Christine Sterling was still exerting administrative control over daily affairs on Olvera Street. She exercised the power to evict any merchant who did not yield to her authority, and when necessary, she fashioned potent images of Mexican romance and impending doom to gain the attention of elected officials and the press. This strategy proved effective in April 1940, when Olvera Street celebrated its tenth anniversary. Sterling seized the occasion by lobbying city hall on behalf of the Mexican marketplace. The Times extended its support by reporting that Sterling and a large female contingent of “helpless” merchants paid a visit to Mayor Fletcher Bowron and the entire City Council, who congratulated the party on the ten-year milestone.1 But the seasoned lobbyists had other items on their agenda. They presented the mayor with a petition containing more than 1,500 signatures requesting city officials to “protect and beautify the Plaza, ease traffic congestion, remove street vendors, and remove the vociferous fanatics [in the Plaza area] who [held] forth there.”2 And to make sure that their pleas for help were heard, Sterling walked to the podium to address the council. She expressed her appreciation for its previous support. However, before leaving she offered a subtle reminder of Olvera Street’s ability to affect public opinion if their request

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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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