The Los Angeles Plaza
Sacred and Contested Space
376 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
Sales Date: April 1, 2008
376 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
2008 — Gold Award in Californiana – California Book Awards – Commonwealth Club of California
2010 — NACCS Book Award – National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies
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.
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
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
- 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