IMAGERY – Olvera Street Market Salesman, 1938


“In the midst of the Great Depression of the 1930s, Paseo de Los Angeles – later referred to as Olvera Street – was created through the efforts of Christine Sterling and the City Boosters in the oldest section of the city. Olvera Street was an imagined Mexican Landscape not unlike the renowned tourist districts of Mexican border cities (Arreola and Curtis 1993). The theme was “Old Mexico,” pitting a timeless, romantic, homogenous Spanish-Mexican culture against industrialization, immigration, urban decay and modernity itself. The street featured rows of curio shops, house museums, and Mexican eateries staffed by costumed Mexican merchants. As a constructed place, Olvera Street was the product of a social and economic agenda established by civic elites to transform downtown Los Angeles through the removal of undesirable residents. The opening of Olvera Street and the preservation of the old Plaza also popularized an emerging creation mythology for Anglo Los Angeles stemming from the defeat of Mexican forces in 1847, a heroic birth legend in which Sterling emerged as a symbolic mother figure and guardian of the city’s birthplace.”

Excerpted from Los Angeles’ Old Plaza and Olvera Street: Imagined and Contested Space, by William D. Estrada © 1999

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One Response to “IMAGERY – Olvera Street Market Salesman, 1938”

  1. norma carlyon says:

    This is and was my favorite place forever. I live on Catalina Island, so, unless dressed in ‘colors’ I don’t see a difference between Hispanics or Caucasians except the Hispanics treat their grand parents and great grandparents with the greatest of respect!
    I used to play with tons of kids when my dad was on location at Union Station; he let me wander no further than the fountain… that was alot before the headlines were “Child Missing” or “Kidnapped”.
    Now I can get there for $1.20, from Long Beach. what a deal. Guess I am heading there now.
    Thanks for the article.

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