Hispanic Spaces, Latino Places: Community and Cultural Diversity in Contemporary America

By Daniel D. Arreola | Go to book overview

12
SE VENDEN AQUÍ:
Latino Commercial Landscapes in
Phoenix, Arizona

Alex Oberle

In his definitive study of the American Southwest, Donald Meinig (1971) delineates the region based on its combined Anglo, Hispanic, and Native American heritage. This tricultural influence situates the Southwest within the boundaries of New Mexico, Arizona, and Far West Texas. Meinig’s Southwest encompasses several major cities that strongly reflect the region’s Spanish and Mexican roots. Santa Fe, with its world-renowned plaza and centuries-old Palace of the Governors, is often characterized as the prototypical southwestern city. In Albuquerque, Old Town represents the city’s Spanish colonial heritage. El Paso’s landscape has been distinctively influenced by its common border with Mexico and connections with its sister city, Ciudad Juárez. Tucson contains a number of Hispanic landmarks, such as the San Xavier del Bac Mission and the flat-roofed adobe buildings that line the narrow streets in its Mexican-era central city barrio neighborhoods.

Phoenix, however, is quite different. Its history is dominated by the achievements of more contemporary Anglo settlers and entrepreneurs whose canal building, agriculture-based prosperity, and business influence are part of urban lore. While there are Mexican and Mexican American neighborhoods in the city, these landscapes are decades rather than centuries old and are not very visible in a city where rooftop air conditioning units, palm-lined golf courses, and glass and steel office buildings dominate not only the skyline, but also street corner vistas.

Yet even this landscape is not what it once was. While Phoenix’s large expatriate midwesterner and easterner populations quietly worked through the economic boom of the go-go 1990s, the city’s population structure was rapidly changing. Even before the U.S. Bureau of the Census released the

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