The Los Angeles Plaza: Sacred and Contested Space / Edition 1

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Overview

City plazas worldwide are centers of cultural expression and artistic display. They are settings for everyday urban life where daily interactions, economic exchanges, and informal conversations occur, thereby creating a socially meaningful place at the core of a city.

At the heart of historic Los Angeles, the Plaza represents a quintessential public space where real and imagined narratives overlap and provide as many questions as answers about the development of the city and what it means to be an Angeleno. The author, a social and cultural historian who specializes in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Los Angeles, is well suited to explore the complex history and modern-day relevance of the Los Angeles Plaza. From its indigenous and colonial origins to the present day, Estrada explores the subject from an interdisciplinary and multiethnic perspective, delving into the pages of local newspapers, diaries and letters, and the personal memories of former and present Plaza residents, in order to examine the spatial and social dimensions of the Plaza over an extended period of time.

The author contributes to the growing historiography of Los Angeles by providing a groundbreaking analysis of the original core of the city that covers a long span of time, space, and social relations. He examines the impact of change on the lives of ordinary people in a specific place, and how this change reflects the larger story of the city.

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What People Are Saying

William Deverell
This is a much needed, much anticipated book. The entire history of Los Angeles can be told, as William Estrada has done in this superb study, through careful investigation of the city's historic Plaza. The city and its countless stories of human drama, significance, and meaning come alive in this careful, exacting investigation. The very heart of Los Angeles at last has its biographer.
William Deverell, Director, Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West
Douglas Monroy
William Estrada deftly and warmly guides us through the 'real history' of the Plaza district as well as the effort to create some 'ersatz authenticity.' Through these pages, we see how the Plaza has been a site of ongoing contestation, tragic loss, and redemption. His complicated and ambiguous stories of the place brilliantly enable us to renew our affection for and understanding of the historic heart of Los Angeles.
Douglas Monroy, Colorado College, author of Rebirth: Mexican Los Angeles from the Great Migration to the Great Depression
William Deverell
This is a much needed, much anticipated book. The entire history of Los Angeles can be told, as William Estrada has done in this superb study, through careful investigation of the city's historic Plaza. The city and its countless stories of human drama, significance, and meaning come alive in this careful, exacting investigation. The very heart of Los Angeles at last has its biographer.
Douglas Monroy
William Estrada deftly and warmly guides us through the 'real history' of the Plaza district as well as the effort to create some 'ersatz authenticity.' Through these pages, we see how the Plaza has been a site of ongoing contestation, tragic loss, and redemption. His complicated and ambiguous stories of the place brilliantly enable us to renew our affection for and understanding of the historic heart of Los Angeles.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292717558
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 342
  • Sales rank: 1,263,442
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

WILLIAM DAVID ESTRADA is Curator of California and American History and Chair of the History Department for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
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Table of Contents

Foreword
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Chapter 1. Cultural and Historical Origins
Chapter 2. The Rise and Decline of the Mexican Plaza
Chapter 3. From Ciudad to City
Chapter 4. Homelands Remembered
Chapter 5. Revolution and Public Space
Chapter 6. Reforming Culture and Community
Chapter 7. Parades, Murals, and Bulldozers
Chapter 8. Politics and Preservation
Chapter 9. The Persistence of Memory
Notes
Bibliography
Index
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2008

    A reviewer

    This is a 'must read' for anyone who wants to understand the real history of the western United States. The topic is Los Angeles, a city settled 22 years before the 1803 Lewis and Clark expedition, that many of us were taught, and believed, 'discovered the west'. William Estrada¿s 'The Los Angeles Plaza', is a scholarly, but very readable, history of Los Angeles, from it¿s beginnings as a small pueblo of 44 people, through becoming today¿s major metropolis of roughly 4 million. And what a surprising history it is!!!! Estrada¿s book does an excellent job of reviewing original documents to show us how wrong many of our commonly accepted assumptions have been, beginning with the pueblo¿s founding in 1781. Los Angeles was one of two successful pueblos founded by the Spanish government, despite protests from the missionaries, who considered the pueblo a threat to their established missions. He points out that the pueblo was an open society with intermarriage between local settlers and the native inhabitants, and contrasts it with the social impact of the other two types of settlements in Spanish California ¿ the presidios (military bases) and missions. As a result, the local Indians learned Spanish and integrated into the life of the pueblo at a far faster pace than at the missions or presidios. The book examines the city, California¿s largest before the Gold Rush, as it existed under the Spanish, became the state capital under Mexico, and transitioned into an American city after the American Army¿s conquest in 1846. Estrada offers insight about the ¿Wild West¿ period in Los Angeles, with lynch mobs and public hangings, before the arrival of the railroads dramatically changed the city¿s society, and started the rapid growth that has existed into the present. The 1920¿s and 1930¿s brought their own form of turmoil to Los Angeles, as the Plaza gradually lost its place as the focal point and center of the city. A truly fascinating book.

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    Posted January 26, 2014

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