Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Los Angeles: City of the Future?

Los Angeles: City of the Future?:
While its earliest promoters dubbed Los Angeles a "city of the future," most of the city's history can be defined in terms of ethnoracial tensions. Founded by the Spanish Empire in 1781, the town (pueblo) became controlled by the United States at the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848. At that time, it contained a deeply-rooted Mexican community who had established huge haciendas for ranching and other agricultural purposes. As the twentieth century dawned, however, Anglo Americans began moving to Los Angeles in droves, especially since the city's Mediterranean climate and cheap land proved appealing. Yet this mass influx of Anglo Americans began to alter many of the local Mexican-American cultural customs. Sonoratown, which was one of the city's first Mexican-American barrios, became racially isolated and spatially separated due to de facto segregation. And when African Americans started migrating to Los Angeles in large numbers, particularly after World War II, the city's ethnoracial tensions exploded into race riots (Watts - 1965). Even though Asian Americans constituted an important demographic in Los Angeles' social history, it was the racial tensions between the trifecta of blacks, Mexicans, and whites that often brought the city to Hell and back. And in addition to its ethnoracial tensions, much of the city's form (8-lane freeways, large-scale tract housing, etc.) might one day inhibit its general functionality.

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