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La Plaza, as seen from the Pico House, c.1869. The "Old Plaza Church" is to the left, the brick reservoir on the right, in the center of the plaza, was the original terminus of the Zanja Madre.
La Plaza, as seen from the Pico House, c.1869. The "Old Plaza Church" is to the left, the brick reservoir on the right, in the center of the plaza, was the original terminus of the Zanja Madre.

Mexican Americans have lived in Los Angeles since the original Pobladores, the 44 original settlers and 4 soldiers who founded the city in 1781. People of Mexican descent make up 31.9% of Los Angeles residents, and 32% of Los Angeles County residents.

History

Overview

Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles Asistencia was founded in early 1784 within the burgeoning Pueblo de Los Ángeles as an asistencia (or "sub-mission") to the nearby Mission San Gabriel Arcángel.[1] The assistant mission fell into disuse over time and a Catholic chapel, La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Ángeles, was constructed in its place a mere thirty years later.

The city has witnessed a development of a Hispanic (mainly Mexican) cultural presence since its settlement as a city in 1769. Mexican-Americans have been one of the largest ethnic groups in Los Angeles since the 1910 census, as Mexican immigrants and US-born Mexicans from the Southwest states came to the booming industrial economy of the LA area between 1915 and 1960. This migration peaked in the 1920s and again in the World War II era (1941–45). In 1970, there were an estimated 815,000 Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles, sometimes they self-identity as Chicano in the mid and late 20th century.

The city's original barrios were located in the eastern half of the city and the unincorporated community of East Los Angeles. The trend of Hispanization began in 1970, then accelerated in the 1980s and 1990s with immigration from Mexico and Central America (especially El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala). These immigrants settled in the city's eastern and southern neighborhoods. By 2000, South Los Angeles was a majority Latino area, displacing most previous African-American and Asian-American residents. The city is often said to have the largest Mexican population outside Mexico and has the largest Spanish-speaking population outside Latin America or Spain. As of 2007, estimates of the number of residents originally from the Mexican state of Oaxaca ranged from 50,000 to 250,000.[2] Montebello was the first Spanish settlement in California in Los Angeles County.[3]

Early 20th Century

1900-WWI

Job contracts, sponsored by the US government in partnership with the Mexican government, initially motivated Mexican immigrants to migrate to Los Angeles.[4]

Post-WWI Era (1920s-30s)

Post-World War I fear of communism manifested itself in Los Angeles through an increased nationalistic, anti-immigrant sentiment. While prominent politicians such as former governor Hiram Johnson and activist Simon Lubin advocated for progressive policies, such as women's rights and labor rights, local politics of Los Angeles county and California at large leaned conservative, with governor Friend W. Richardson reallocating the Americanization programs to the California Department of Education in 1923. The goal of these Americanization programs was to assimilate immigrants into "the American way of life"[5] and particularly targeted Mexican immigrants because of their perceived ethnic proximity to Europeans relative to other immigrant groups, such as the Chinese and Japanese; the main way this was achieved was through the instruction of the English language. At first, these programs prioritized Mexican men, registering them through their workplaces, but because of the seasonal nature of farm work, teaching English successfully was not possible.[5]

Aligning with the American ideal of Republican motherhood, assimilation efforts were eventually redirected toward Mexican women, who were usually in charge of the home and more involved in community institutions like schools than Mexican men. The new goal of Americanization programs then became training Mexican women for domestic work, to help "alleviate the shortage of housemaids, seamstresses, laundresses, and service workers."[5] By making Mexican women, the homemakers, more American, Americanists hoped that Mexican culture would slowly phase out of immigrants' lives; for example, replacing tortillas with bread during meals. These efforts to push Mexican women into newly-profitable, domestic work outside the of the home was met with resistance, which Americanists attributed to machismo in Mexican culture. When naturalization rates of Mexican immigrants did not improve, Americanization programs shifted focus yet again to the implementation of Americanization curriculum in schools, in an effort to teach American values to American-born children of Mexican immigrants. Despite these programs promising full integration into American society, they only provided "idealized versions of American values"[5] and second-class citizenship, as Mexican immigrants continued to face economic disenfranchisement and their children received an unequal education to their white counterparts.[5]

WWII Era (1940s)

Agricultural labor shortages associated with World War II brought on another wave of Mexican immigration to Los Angeles. The bracero program, or guest worker program, was a partnership between the US and Mexican governments, as well as American farms, to bring Mexican agricultural workers to the United States through labor contracts. With a demand for workers that exceeded the supply of labor contracts, the bracero program inadvertently became one of the origins of undocumented immigration from Mexico to the United States.[6]

Today

Census Bureau map of Los Angeles County showing percentage of population self-identified as Mexican in ancestry or national origin by census tracts. Heaviest concentrations are in East Los Angeles, Echo Park/Silver Lake, South Los Angeles, and San Pedro/Harbor City/Wilmington.
Census Bureau map of Los Angeles County showing percentage of population self-identified as Mexican in ancestry or national origin by census tracts. Heaviest concentrations are in East Los Angeles, Echo Park/Silver Lake, South Los Angeles, and San Pedro/Harbor City/Wilmington.

As of 2010, about 2.5 million residents of the Greater Los Angeles area are of Mexican American origin/heritage.[7]

As of 1996 Mexican-Americans make up about 80% of the Latino population in the Los Angeles area.[8] As of 1996 the Los Angeles region had around 3,736,000 people of Mexican origins.[9]

There's a shift of second and third generation Mexican-Americans out of Los Angeles into nearby suburbs, such as Ventura County, Orange County, San Diego and the Inland Empire, California region. Mexican and other Hispanic immigrants moved in East and South sections of L.A. and sometimes, Asian immigrants moved into historic barrios to become mostly Asian-American areas. Starting in the late 1980s, Downey has become a renowned Latino majority community in Southern California, and the majority of residents moved in were middle or upper-middle class, and second and third generation Mexican-Americans. [10] The Mexican population is increasing in the Antelope Valley such as Palmdale.[11]

Suburban cities in Los Angeles County like Azusa, Baldwin Park, City of Industry, Duarte, El Monte, Irwindale, La Puente, Montebello, Rosemead, San Gabriel, South Gate, South El Monte, West Covina, Whittier and especially Pomona have large a Mexican population.[12][13]

Culture

Mexican Americans from Los Angeles have celebrated the Cinco de Mayo holiday since the 1860s. They, along with other Spanish-speaking peoples, celebrate the Day of the Three Wise Kings as a gift giving holiday.[14]

Another holiday that Mexican-American Angelenos celebrate is Dia de Los Muertos (the Day of the Dead), which typically lasts 3 days.

Zoot suits were a staple of Mexican-American attire in the 1940s. The wearing of soot suits represented rebellion against the injustices of society.[15]

Los Angeles was an epicenter of the Chicano civil rights movement during the 1960s, along with the Chicano art movement that ensued.

In the 1990s the quebradita dancing style was popular among Mexican-Americans in Greater Los Angeles.[16]

The El Centro Cultural de Mexico is located in Santa Ana.

Plaza Mexico is located in Lynwood. [17]

Two films, Tortilla Soup and Real Women Have Curves, portrays Mexican-American families in the Los Angeles area.

Another great film that portrays the life of a Mexican-American in Los Angeles is Stand and Deliver, which demonstrates the life of Mexican-American high school students and how they get through their academic struggles, with the help of their teacher, Jaime Escalante (Edward James Olmos).

Notable Mexican Americans from Los Angeles

See also

References

  1. ^ "The San Bernardino Asistencias by R. Bruce Harley". California Mission Studies Association. Archived from the original on June 13, 2006. Retrieved November 21, 2006.
  2. ^ "Sounds in Oaxacalifornia: Gala Porras-Kim Investigates Indigenous Tones, 18th Street Arts Center". Artbound – KCET – Los Angeles. 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
  3. ^ Bedolla, Lisa García (7 October 2005). Fluid Borders: Latino Power, Identity, and Politics in Los Angeles. ISBN 9780520938496.
  4. ^ Sanchez, George (1993). Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 39.
  5. ^ a b c d e Sanchez, George (1993). Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 87–107.
  6. ^ Cohen, Deborah (2001). "Caught in the Middle: The Mexican State's Relationship with the United States and Its Own Citizen-Workers, 1942-1954". Journal of American Ethnic History: 110–126.
  7. ^ Moreno Areyan, Alex (2010). Mexican Americans in Los Angeles. Arcadia Publishing. p. 7. ISBN 9780738580067.
  8. ^ Lopez, David E.; Popkin, Eric; Telles, Edward (1996). "Central Americans: At the Bottom: Struggling to Get Ahead" (Chapter 10)". In Waldinger, Roger; Bozorgmehr, Mehdi (eds.). Ethnic Los Angeles. Russell Sage Foundation. p. 280. ISBN 9780871549013.
  9. ^ Central Americans: At the Bottom: Struggling to Get Ahead, p. 281.
  10. ^ Carcamo, Cindy (2015-08-05). "Latinos' rising fortunes are epitomized in Downey". latimes.com.
  11. ^ Stringfellow, Kim (December 12, 2017). "The Shifting Demographics of Antelope Valley — And Development's Consequences". KCET.
  12. ^ Santillán, Richard A. (9 December 2013). Mexican American Baseball in the Central Coast. ISBN 9781439642443.
  13. ^ González, Jerry (15 November 2017). In Search of the Mexican Beverly Hills: Latino Suburbanization in Postwar Los Angeles. ISBN 9780813583181.
  14. ^ Kim, Ann L. (2000-01-06). "Armenians Won't Rush Christmas". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-07-02. Meantime, children in Mexico and many Latin American countries today celebrate El Dia De Los Tres Reyes Magos, or the Day of the Three Wise Kings. Families distribute gifts to commemorate the day that the three wise men brought gifts to the newborn Christ child. Christmas Eve is usually reserved for the religious celebration of the birth of Christ
  15. ^ Escobedo, Elizabeth Rachel (2013). From Coveralls to Zoot Suits : The Lives of Mexican American Women on the World War II Home Front. The University of North Carolina. p. 70. ISBN 978-1-4696-2209-5.
  16. ^ Simonett, Helena (2001-01-30). "2". The Quebradita Dance Craze. Banda: Mexican Musical Life Across Borders. Wesleyan University Press. p. 52. ISBN 9780819564306..
  17. ^ "plaza mexico".

Further reading