This article looks at restaurants as urban forms of public space in which ethnic entrepreneurs act as place-makers. The author highlights El Nayarit, a Mexican restaurant in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles, from 1947 to the present, as a nucleus of a community where racial, ethnic, class, and generational boundaries were breached. This restaurant and its spin-off enterprises also helped to define the neighborhood as ethnic space. In contrast, urban redevelopment and gentrification, beginning in the 1990s, have resulted in erasure of the area’s history and the sense of space in which ethnic identity and multiethnic bonds were once fostered.
The Importance of Place and Place-Makers in the Life of a Los Angeles Community: What Gentrification Erases from Echo Park
Natalia Molina is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty Diversity and Equity and Associate Professor of History and Urban Studies at University of California, San Diego. Her work sits at the intersections of race, culture, and citizenship. Her first book, Fit to be Citizens? Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879-1939, garnered the Hundley Award from the American Historical Association. In her newest book, How Race Is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts (University of California Press, 2014), Molina uses a relational approach to race and coins the term racial scripts to highlight the ways in which the lives of racialized groups are linked across time and space and thereby affect one another, even when they do not directly cross paths.
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Natalia Molina; The Importance of Place and Place-Makers in the Life of a Los Angeles Community: What Gentrification Erases from Echo Park. Southern California Quarterly 1 February 2015; 97 (1): 69–111. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/scq.2015.97.1.69
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