Posts Tagged ‘Christine Sterling’

IMAGERY – Olvera Street Market Salesman, 1938

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“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