Multicultural LA: Travel the World with LA Style
LA is one of the most diverse cities in the world. With well over one-third (39.7%) of its population being foreign born and the vast majority of its natives having family that immigrated to the city from other parts of the US and the world. LA has become one of the largest multicultural hubs in America. LA is known for having a variety of ethnic enclaves and multicultural neighborhoods, each with its own rich and complex history.
Olvera Street is one of the oldest streets established in Los Angeles. Established in 1858, the street is famous for its restaurants, street vendors, and public establishments. Olvera Street has a rich Mexican American history and culture and has served as a safe haven for the Mexican American community in the city since its inception. The city of Los Angeles was established in 1781 on what is now referred to as Olvera Street. Mexico established independence from the Spaniards and from that time until the end of Mexican rule, Los Angeles was a thriving Mexican city. Los Angeles was an economically prosperous city largely due their agriculture. After the US obtained the land, residents of this enclave fought to maintain the area’s heritage. Old pueblo style buildings were refurbished and revitalized and Olvera Street was established. Olvera street boasts a modern marketplace heavily influenced by the large Mexican American population that call the city home. On Olvera Street one can find some of the best authentic Mexican cuisine outside of Mexico as well as hear the sounds and take in the sights of the Mexican-style Market. The street is particularly famous for its brightly lit streets, vibrant marigolds, and beautiful altars created in ohmage to the dead on Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
Situated between Wilshire Boulevard and Palos Verdes, Crenshaw Boulevard is the heart of black Los Angeles. During the early 20th century, there was a building boom in LA as people from around the country and the world flocked to the city in pursuit of opportunity. During the early to mid-20th century, racially restrictive covenants in the city were struck down, allowing residents of color to move into the growing neighborhoods on the southside of the city. Black Angelenos found success on Crenshaw Blvd, setting up their own businesses, schools, churches, etc. and grew the neighborhood into a prosperous middle-class community rich with black culture. Crenshaw Blvd is also a multi-ethnic hub, as many Japanese Americans and other immigrant groups found refuge and fellowship in the community, creating successful businesses and bonds with black residents in the area as well. The “Great Wall of Crenshaw” is painted with immaculate murals that pay tribute to the street’s rich black history and culture. Surrounding neighborhoods such as Leimert Park have become centers for black art, history, and culture in the city.
Located in Downtown Los Angeles near Dodger Stadium, LA’s Chinatown was established in the 1880’s. At this time the transcontinental railroad, the railroad that would eventually connect the eastern US to the west was still under construction and the central Pacific railway company began to hire Chinese immigrants to finish the western portion of it. Like many immigrant groups, the Chinese immigrants faced racial violence and discriminatory policies that limited where they could work and live. Chinatown faced many financial struggles and was destroyed and rebuilt many times. Around the 1950’s many racial covenants preventing Chinese immigrants from owning property in certain areas were struck down, allowing Chinese immigrants more mobility in the city. Community efforts to revitalize Chinatown were underway. Many Chinese Americans began to build businesses and establish their lives in the area. Hollywood set and propmakers added to the design of the New Chinatown, blending together Chinese and American themes to create an ‘exotic’ but uniquely Chinese American neighborhood. Some notable infrastructures in the area include the China Town Gateway (The Dragon Gate), the Wishing Well, the Statue of Sun Yat-Sen, and the New Chinatown main plaza. Chinatown is a vibrant and diverse community. It is also a tourist destination and highly sought out for development, which comes with its ups and downs. Many of its low-income residents have been pushed out because of rising cost of living, and many activists are fighting to keep the community affordable for its native residents.
Maria is a writer at Enki Tech, a Downtown Santa Monica technology company that specializes in the development of high-quality, user friendly software, web platforms and mobile apps.