The Violent Origin Story of Dodger StadiumHistorians in the News
tags: baseball, Los Angeles, urban history, public housing, urban renewal, Mexican American history, Chavez Ravine
Before Los Angeles had Dodger Stadium, it had Palo Verde, La Loma, and Bishop. They were three neighborhoods that made up the thriving, predominantly Mexican American community in what is now known as Chavez Ravine. And it was one of few places, due to redlining and racist land covenants, that Mexican American families could buy property and build wealth in Los Angeles.
But things changed in the late 1940s. The city characterized the area as “blighted,” setting the stage for a decade-long battle by residents to preserve the community against threats of eviction. The majority of residents were forced out so the city could build a public housing project. They were given little to no compensation for their properties — and were also told they could live in the public housing project once it was built. But ultimately, after public housing was deemed “a socialist plot” amid the Red Scare politics of the 1950s, the city’s plans for a public housing project fell through. Instead, the final, violent evictions of the 1950s cleared the way for Dodger Stadium.
The result is a complicated legacy. Through interviews with several former residents of the area, we explore the story of their neighborhoods in the video above. It’s one that’s often missing from the history of Los Angeles and has created a double-edged relationship for some Dodger fans.
If you want to learn more about the story, check out the oral history and archival project, “An Unfinished Story,” Eric Nusbaum’s book, Stealing Home, an NPR article on Chavez Ravine, or listen to 99 Percent Invisible’s episode on Chavez Ravine.
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