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Boyle Heights A New Holistic Landscape

Table of Contents


Overview Questions




Timeline of Boyle Heights


Making the Invisible Visible


Typology of Housing


Typology of Business


Typology of Recreation


Typology of Health


Preliminary Proposal


Past work / Case studies


Works Cited

Boyle Heights Acupuncture: A New Healthcare Landscape

How can Boyle Heights interweave new forms of urban metabolism through social, biophysical, and cultural processes?

What are the possibilities of post-modern Boyle Heights infrastructures?

How can Boyle Heights become VISIBLE by reinterpreting its rich past and aging infrastructure?

Health and Racism

Since 1875, Boyle Heights has been a distinctive gathering space of multi-ethnic communities searching to make a life in midst of inequality. This historic and current diversity in the community landscape has always been prone to fragmentation from the Los Angeles fabric through political, economic, and geographic forces.

These forces at hand came from modernization of the city, through top-down policy making, and through the funding of monolithic centralized infrastructures that became a part of a distinctive technological landscape. This landscape represented a core element in the development of the modern capital markets and was founded on the impulse to transform nature in the service of new society at the forefront of science, modernity, and progress, which failed to take into account specificity of local situations. Since Boyle Heights was a racially-mixed neighborhood, it was delegated as disposable, separated from the “functioning” world around it, and therefore subject to unregulated growth of infrastructure that began to cause a splintering in the community fabric.

Besides the freeways that criss-cross the site, one of the largest public infrastructural projects in Boyle Heights is the USC Medical center. One of the first hospitals to be open in Los Angeles, it exemplifies the “bacteriological city”, an interface between hygiene, centralized water systems, the “invented tradition” of capitalist healthcare, and a culture of dependence on a one-size-fits all source for healthcare.

Despite the scars left by the modernist infrastructural approach, Boyle Heights has made a powerful comeback since the 1940s through community activism and grassroots movements, which have unified and given the community a new identity. By taking into account the appropriate typology of the area, an acupunctural approach can be developed in order to address housing, business, recreation and access to healthcare.

Timeline of Boyle Heights

The relationship between “Health and Race� is diagnosed with institutionalized racism visible in Boyle Heights through urban renewal projects, transportation, health, and water infrastructure.

0-1780’s- Historical Water Drainage

Prior to the introduction of the Zanja Madre irrigation ditch, the Los Angeles River was an alluvial river that ran freely across a flood plain that is now occupied by Los Angeles, Long Beach, and other townships in Southern California. Its path was unstable and unpredictable, and the mouth of the river moved frequently from one place to another between Long Beach and Ballona Creek.

historical drainage

1780 1781 Plaza Za







Zanja Madre ,the first irrigation channel, is established.

Pueblo of Los Angeles is founded. Paredon Blanco (White Bluffs), now Boyle Heights, is within Pueblo boundaries.

1780-1870’s- Zanja Madre

1st establishment layout

Black White Hispanic Other non-Hisp.

The main vineyard district of the city of LA itself was distinct and compact: it ran along both sides of the river, mostly on the west or city side, from Macy street on the north to Washington street on the south, and from LA street to Boyle Heights going west to east.

California becomes a state.

Andrew Boyle purchases land on Paredon Blanco, plants vineyards, and builds a home on what becomes Boyle Avenue.

This section has long since been covered over by railway tracks, and warehouses. Nevertheless, the names that belong to its viticultural past persist. To the instructed eye, the contemporary street map of LA reveals generally unrecognized memorial to the early growers and winemakers who lived there long ago. Aliso street remembers Don Luis Vigne’s great sycamores and vineyards. In the same region, Keller Street, after Don Matteo Keller, and Bauchet Street, after Don Luis Bauchet, commemorate two of the vineyardists who once made the region green. Just across the river, Boyle Heights street reminds us of the Irishman Andrew Boyle, whose house on the heights looked on to his vineyards and cellars on the lands along the river below.



Black White Hispanic Other non-Hisp.

Bauchet street

Kellenst Street

Aliso Street



1780-1870’s- Zanja Madre

Prior to the modernization of the water system, the Zanja Madre irrigation ditch was introduced, which carried water from the river and natural pools into small earthen ditches toward agricultural lands. This system, though visible, was fragile, unreliable, and did not control seasonal flooding of the Los Angeles River. It also brought forth outbreaks of cholera, typhus fever, and other open-water diseases to the city.

Zanja Madre path

Boyle Heights circa 1877

Irrigation map circa 1884

Flooded areas circa 1852

First bridge built over Los Angeles River at Macy Street.

Andrew Boyle dies. His daughter Maria (Boyle) Workman inherits his property.

Boyle’s son-in-law William H. Workman subdivides the area for residential development and names it “Boyle Heights” in his honor.

Completion of first railroad line, Southern Pacific, to Los Angeles. In 1885, Santa Fe Railway extends into Los Angeles. Rail connections provide employment and bring new residents to Los Angeles.

Horse-drawn car line of first “inter-urban” rail system crosses into Boyle Heights to serve approximately 40 residences.

LA USC Medical center established.

1870-1920’s- Development of Housing and Transport

1870 1871 1875 1876 1877 1878

Black White Hispanic Other non-Hisp.

Chinese Exclusion Act prohibits immigration of Chinese laborers. Japanese immigrants are recruited to fill the need for cheap labor.

LA Medical Center connects with USC Medical Center

Los Angeles Cable Railway opens with line extending over the First Street Viaduct into Boyle Heights.

Beginning of the so-called “Golden Era� (1890s-1920s) for African Americans in Los Angeles. Migrants from South and Southwest find better opportunities for homeownership and employment in Boyle Heights and other parts of Los Angeles.

1880 1882 1885 1889 1890

Black White Hispanic Other non-Hisp.

Valencia tract further subdivided Boyle Heights. It was subdivided by Wirsching.

Russian Molokans, a dissenting sect of the Russian Orthodox Church, flee Russia due to persecution by Tzarist government and mandatory conscription during the Russo-Japanese War. Many settle in “the flats” of Boyle Heights.

After the San Francisco Earthquake, many Japanese Americans migrate south to Los Angeles. Little Tokyo becomes the center of community life.

Los Angeles City Council establishes zoning laws protecting westside communities from industrial development. Boyle Heights remains open to industrial development, which by the 1950s occupies approximately one-quarter of area. Workmen’s Circle/Arbeiter Ring, a Yiddish cultural and political organization, establishes its Southern California headquarters, the Vladeck Center, in downtown. The Center is later moved to Boyle Heights, where it serves Jewish labor unionists and activists.

1900 1902 1904 1906 1908

The Heights

The Flats

1913 1914

Congregation Talmud Torah purchases property on Breed Street in Boyle Heights, where they eventually build the Breed Street Shul, the largest and longest-running synagogue in the neighborhood.

The International Institute of Los Angeles organized in Boyle Heights to “assist foreign communities.”

Beginning this year and continuing until 1933, a series of monumental bridges crossing the Los Angeles River are designed and built. Six connect Boyle Heights to Downtown Los Angeles.

Mexican immigration to Los Angeles increases as many flee the turmoil of the Mexican Revolution. As downtown is developed, many other Mexican Americans move across the L.A. River into Boyle Heights and East L.A.

California Alien Land Law prevents ownership of land by “aliens ineligible for citizenship.”


1870-1920’s- Development of Housing and Transport

Boyle Heights became parceled up into tracts for single family residency. Due to the housing bust in the 30’s, the tracts were never fully developed. Because of the housing policies at the time, Boyle Heights became open to mulit-ethnic families, who were looking to make a home in the few places that they legally could. This settlement was made possible due to the railway, cable car and horsedrawn trollies that connected the Eastide with the Westside.

tract near Hollenbeck Park

tract near Brooklyn and Boyle

Boyle Heights map circa 1900s

topography of tract houses- Victorian style

topography of tract houses- Victorian style

1870-1920’s- Development of Housing and Transport

The railway cable and Pacific Railroad expanded rapidly during this time, enabling quick transit from one part of the city to another. Boyle Heights was fully integrated with the rest of the city.

Boyle Heights

expansion of railroad tracks

typology of a cable car

typology of a street car

1870-1920’s- Development of Housing and Transport

What’s today called the Cesar E. Chavez Avenue Viaduct was the second span realized as part of a major bridge-building program in Los Angeles begun in the mid-1920s (the one at Ninth Street, or the Olympic Boulevard Bridge, built by the North Pacific Construction Company, was the first completed). Lead by the Chamber of Commerce, a collection of groups started lobbying in 1923 for the replacement of six of the city’s outdated bridge.

Cesar Chavez Ave. Viaduct, 1923

1st Street Bridge, 1929

4th Street Bridge, 1924

6th Street Bridge, 1932

7th Street Bridge, 1910/1927

Olympic Bridge, 1925

Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School in Boyle Heights opens its doors to the first students.

Immigration Act of 1924, by employing prniciple of “national origins,” effectively prohibits immigration from Asia and limits immigration from Southeathern Europe.

Stock market crashes-Great Depression begins.

1920 Eastward movement of Japanese Americans along First Street from Little Tokyo into Boyle Heights increases.

Significant numbers of Jewish immigrants and their families move to Los Angeles from the East Coast and Midwest, eventually making Boyle Heights home to the largest Jewish community west of Chicago.

1920-1940’s- Rise of the Multi-Ethnic Community

1923 1924 1929

pockets of poverty

Beginning of deportation and coercive repatriation campaigns targeting Mexican Americans. One-third of those in Los Angeles, including some U.S. citizens and Boyle Heights residents, are encouraged or forced to leave for Mexico.

1930 1931 Kristalnacht (the night of broken glass) in Germany marks the beginning of open and intensified use of violence against Jewish people, culminating in the Holocaust. Boyle Heights residents respond by organizing protests and support efforts. Channelization of Los Angeles River begins.

California Sanitary Canning Strike becomes the first successful Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) food processing strike on the West Coast. Jewish and Mexican women living and working in Boyle Heights participate

1932 1938 1939

El Congreso, the first national Latino civil rights assembly, convenes in East L.A. with over 1,000 delegates. The resulting platform calls for an end to segregation in schools, employment, and housing; the right to join labor unions; and the right for immigrants to work and rear families in United States without fear of deportation.

Earthquake in Los Angeles

Roosevelt High School students protest administration’s suppression of free speech, which began with suspension of peers involved in publishing an independent student newspaper, The Roosevelt Voice.

Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School in Boyle Heights opens its doors to the first students.

1930-1950’s- Water Channelization begins

pockets of poverty

Los Angeles Hidden Natural Systems

ground water basins sub-basins

watershed boundaries sub-watershed boundaries

Los Angeles Hidden Artificial Systems

drainage areas maintained by LA County Flood Maintenance District

sewerage areas maintained by LA County Flood Maintenance District

Los Angeles County Systems

1920-1940’s- Rise of the Multi-Ethnic Community

Mutli-ethnic communities settled in Boyle Heights from early 1900’s to avoid prejudice in other parts of town.


Mexican immigrants

Jewish immigrants

Russian immigrants

Japanese immigrants

African Americans

Forced removal and incarceration of West Coast Japanese Americans begins per Executive Order 9066.

1941 1942 1943

First organized opposition by Boyle Heights residents to House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings in Los Angeles, which probe alleged communist influences by targeting activists and union leaders.

Santa Ana-101 Freeway opens from Aliso Street to Soto Street.

Edward Roybal, with the support of the Community Service Organization (CSO), becomes the first Mexican American elected to the L.A. City Council in the twentieth century. He represents the 9th District, which includes Boyle Heights. He later represents the area in Congress, where he serves until 1993.


Housing crunch hits Boyle Heights as U.S. servicemen & Japanese Americans recently permitted to return to the Wst Coast, settle in area.

San Bernardino-10 Freeway opens from Aliso Street to Indiana Street. It is the first of several that displace over 10,000 Boyle Heights residents.

Roosevelt High School student activists organize hundreds of other students from local schools in protest against the Board of Education for granting Gerald L. K. Smith a permit to speak at Polytechnic High School.

“Zoot-Suit Riots” explode in the streets of Downtown Los Angeles and surrounding barrios, including Boyle Heights

Bracero Program -Mexican contract workers are brought to the United States to fill the labor void left by incarcerated Japanese Americans and Mexican Americans leaving agricultural jobs for new opportunities in urban areas.

Opening of Aliso Village, one of the nation’s first racially integrated public housing projects, in Boyle Heights. Priority for housing is given to war-industry workers and later to returning servicemen. Soon after, Pico Gardens and Estrada Courts are built.

Boom in war-industry work draws migration of workers from other parts of the country to Los Angeles.

Japan bombs Pearl Harbor, prompting the United States to enter World War II.

1940-1970’s- Urban Renewal and Fight for Justice

1947 1948 1949

Ramona Courts

Aliso Housing

Pico Housing

pockets of poverty removed

Wyvernwood Apts.

Estrada Courts

1940-1970’s- Urban Renewal and Fight for Justice

Till the 1930’s, Boyle Heights housed some of the last remaining “slums” in the US. The federal government decided to eliminate these pockets of “slums” and redevelop the site as housing projects, which failed to take into account the unique site conditions the poor communities created. It was easy to clear the “slums” because of the “institutionalized racism” seen at the time. Rather than promoting individual investment in private home purchasing, the government routinely denied the urban dwellers bank loans, instead offering the ‘racialized’ group public housing as a modernist answer to cleansweeping the place and starting over.

Aliso Village, 1940 (demolished)

Ramona Courts, 1940

Pico Gardens, 1940 (demolished)

Wyvernwood Housing, 1939

Estrada Courts, 1942


East L.A. resident Sei Fujii, a Japanese immigrant holding property titles in Boyle Heights and East L.A., successfully challenges the California Alien Land Law in the state Supreme Court. The law is ruled unconstitutional.

Immigration and Nationality Act (McCarran-Walter Act) makes all races eligible for naturalization and establishes a national origins quota system for all immigrants.

Korean conflict begins.

Boyle Heights continues to be Los Angeles’s most ethnically diverse neighborhood. 1950

Infrastructure- separation of classes and districts

Infrastructure is not neutral but political, and the key to understanding its anatomy is visibility. In this society of risk, our dependence on technological networks otherwise taken for granted (electricity, water supply, elevators, air-conditioning) is only revealed by crises. In order to politicize infrastructure, to return it to its social and environmental context, it must be made visible. While the free is an example of visible infrastructure, there are associated invisible scars left on the community, such as the lack of accessibility to certain parts of the neighborhood.

East Los Angeles Interchange is built to eventually connect six freeways.

Immigration Act of 1965 abolishes national origins quota system for immigration.

1961 1965

Eastside student “Blowouts� protest the public education system and call for improved facilities and culturally-relevant school curriculum.

Pomona-60 Freeway opens from East L.A. interchange to Third and Downey streets.

Golden State-5 Freeway opens from Sixth Street and Boyle Avenue cutting through Hollenbeck Park.

1960 1968

Hollenbeck Park

Self-Help Graphics & Art is established on Brooklyn Avenue in Boyle Heights by Sister Karen Boccalero and a group of artists. Organization moves to Gage Street in East L.A. in 1978.

Communist governments come into power in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, precipitating a large exodus of refugees from Southeast Asia to the United States.

1970 National Chicano Moratorium is organized to protest the Vietnam War and the high rate of Latino casualties. Thousands march through East L.A. Journalist Ruben Salazar is killed by L.A. County sheriffs in police crackdown in area.

Economic conditions and civil strife in Mexico and Central America lead to increased immigration to the United States. Los Angeles is a primary destination.

1970-1990’s- Height of Chicano Rights Movement and Activism

1973 1975

1970-1990’s- Height of Chicano Rights Movement and Activism

Demolnstrations- Chicano MOratorum The Chicano Moratorium was a movement of Chicano activists that organized anti-Vietnam War demonstrations and activities in Mexican American communities throughout the Southwest and elsewhere from November 1969 through August 1971. “Our struggle is not in Vietnam but in the movement for social justice at home” was a key slogan of the movement. It was coordinated by the National Chicano Moratorium Committee (NCMC) and led largely by activists from the Chicano student movement and the Brown Beret organization.

Photos of protesters, 1970

An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 from around the nation, Mexico and Puerto Rico marched through East Los Angeles on August 29, 1970. The rally, however, was broken up by local police, who said that they had gotten reports that a nearby liquor store was being robbed. They chased the “suspects” into the park, and declared the gathering of thousands an illegal assembly. Monitors and activists resisted the attack, but eventually people were herded back to the march route, Whittier Boulevard.

Posters for protests

Protesters on Whittier Blvd., Boyle Heights, 1970

1970-1990’s- Height of Chicano Rights Movement and Activism

Chicano Arts Movement- ASCO The Chicano arts movement became a significant unifier between politics, history, labor, and culture, which was stimulated by the restlessness and ambitions of the Chicano and Mexican residents. This group was a rebellious spirit that tried to make their invisible culture and art come to visibility, as well as expose the political and social problems through site-specific performance art. The name Asco in Spanish means nausea. The name reflects the reaction that their artwork incites in the spectator. The subject of their work was the “normative landscape and official culture of Los Angeles”. With their site-specific performative art, the group was able to produce awareness to the urban displays of police violence, Chicano discrimination and mistreatment . This directly applies to the idea of ‘place’. Places of constrain, such as ghettos, concentration camps, could be perceived as “political territories,” where the rules and regulations that preside over the space can be seen as “enforcement of territory”. A counter-space was created through their art as a way of reclaiming what has been taken away from the Chicano community. They wanted to bring to light what Chicanos called the “phantom culture,” which was their marginalized and invisible culture.

Instant Mural, 1974

A few of their famous performative works of art where “Stations of the Cross,” “Walking Mural,” “Project Pie in De/Face”, ”Instructional Destruction Projects,” “Instant Mural,” “Boulevard Nights,” and “Asshole Mural.”

Walking Mural, 1972

Map depicting the performances on Whittier Blvd.

In their performance “First Supper (After a Major Riot)”, describes the 1970 Chicano Moratorium in nearby Laguna Park, which was an anti-Vietnam and pro-social justice demonstration that turned into a violent riot due to police brutality. This “First Supper” depicts a “secular” resurrection of “non-space” and returning to Whittier Street and starting a new political demonstration, after years of demonstrative suppression. Another performance, “Walking Mural,” was a “counter spectacle”, a glamorous reversal of power and a retrieval of “social space” in their community. First Supper (After a Major Riot), 1974

1970-1990’s- Height of Chicano Rights Movement and Activism

Community Centers- Self-Help Graphics Self-Help Graphics was formed during the birth of the Chicano Movement and still showcases up-and-incoming Chicano artists. It is also a center for the community and hosts a series of performances such as the Day of the Dead festival. Throughout its long history, this non-profit has worked with numerous celebrated artists such as the group ASCO, the Los Four, and the East Los Streescapers. It also focuses to give training and exposure to new artists through workshops and exhibits. The artists that work at Self-Help Graphics are creating counter-space and making visible the invisible social conditions of the marginalized residents through media such as street art, printmaking, and spoken word. They challenge the preconceived notions of graffiti as vandalism by exhibiting aerosol murals in their gallery space. They also create egalitarian art through print-making, which allows SHG to circulate numerous prints to museums, while keeping some for their own collection. A class on origami at SHG

artwork from exhibit

artwork from exhibit

artwork from exhibit

Immigration Reform and Control Act is signed into law, creating legalization (amnesty) program and employer sanctions.

Bill H.R. 442 is signed into law, calling for government apology and reparations to Japanese Americans incarcerated in America’s concentration camps during World War II.

1986 1987

Demolition of Aliso Village and Pico Gardens housing projects begins and residents are dispersed. Reconstruction of housing units proceeds according to nationally-implemented new plan, Hope VI.

Brooklyn Avenue is renamed Avenida Cesar Chavez. The new name is dedicated in a ceremony at Cinco Puntos (Five Points).

Proposition 187, designed to clamp down on undocumented immigrants, is passed by California voters. 25,000 people march through East L.A. to City Hall in protest.

Roosevelt High School presents diplomas to former students who did not graduate during World War II because they were drafted into the military or were forcibly removed from the neighborhood due to Executive Order 9066.

1994 1995 1997

2000 L.A. County approves plans for an Eastside light rail from Union Station, through Little Tokyo, and over the First Street Bridge into Boyle Heights and East L.A.

U.S. Census reports Boyle Heights population at 82,533. Ninety-five percent is identified as “Latino/Hispanic.”

Breed Street Shul Project, Inc., a subsidiary of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California, assumes the title of the historic synagogue, which was declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. The project involves local neighborhood organizations in restoring the building for use as a museum and cultural center.

1970-1990’s- Latino Boyle Heights: Beginning of a New Era


1970-1990’s- Latino Boyle Heights: Beginning of a New Era


Less than high school


High school

Historically, Boyle Heights has been the entry point for various ethnic immigrants. In the 1940’s the neighborhood was home to Jewish and Japanese Americans. For the past two decades, however, it has been home to mostly Latino immigrants. While more and more second generation Latinos are planting their roots in Boyle Heights, the neighborhood is still an immigrant community, 53 percent of its total population, and 38 percent of the households are linguistically isolated. Boyle Heights is still a low income working neighborhood with the poverty rate averaging at 33 percent whith the overall poverty rate in Los Angeles being at 22 percent. The median income for the area is $33,253 in contrast to the median income for Los Angeles being approximately $53,000. Homeownership in the area is also much lower at 11%, compared with the greater Los Angeles of 39%.


Some college

Bachelor’s degree

Master’s degree or higher




21,136 16,756

Boyle Heights is one of LA LISC’s targeted Sustainable Community areas. To-date, LISC has invested $13 million primarily on affordable housing developments which have served to add significant inventory to the community’s critical supply shortage. It is a community undergoing a transformation and is caught between past economic struggles, political inequality and the onset of gentrification.

12,756 8,834 7,144

10 or less






65 and up

Own 24.1%

White 2.0%

Asian 2.4%

Other 0.7%

Black 0.9%

Rent 75.9% Latino 94.0%

Occupied housing units Ethnicity

Widowed 2.1 % Divorced 4.9%

Never married 43.1%


Married 50.0%

7,166 Males Widowed 7.7 % Divorced 5.7% Never married 35.0%

3,290 2,505 Married 51.5%


Females 20 or less




125 and up

Household income in thousands of 2000 dollars

Boyle Heights- Making the Invisible Visible

Inequality- Access and Exclusion In earlier periods, the advent of the reason was predicated on the non-local, non-situated, nonmaterial utopia of mind and matter, it is now possible to dissipate those phantoms and to observe them moving in side specific spheres and networks. Modernism was good at displacing, at migrating, eliminating entities, at vacuum cleaning, breaking with the past, but if you ask it to place, replace, sustain, accompany, nurture, care, protect- in brief, inhabit and deploy- none of the reflexes we have learned from its history are much use. What the modernist agenda left Boyle Heights with is a questionable health landscape. Yet, through site specific typologies, such as housing, commerce, recreation, and health, Boyle Heights has created counter-spaces to help alleviate the scars.

USC Medical Center- inaccessible to neighborhood

Industry belt- inaccessible / disconnected

Green space- least in the city, mainly near schools

Water as border

Smoggiest city in California / tire and brake particulates

Non-places / forgotten areas

Boyle Heights- Making the Invisible Visible

Typology of Resistance Boyle Heights typology should be given a fair architectural overview to find its unique, flexible site conditions that could have a future impact on a possible design method. By looking at the usual aspects of life in Boyle Heights, such as housing, commerce, recreation and health, one can get a good visual of the resilient and flexible typologies at work.

Public Housing

Business / Commerce on Cesar Chavez Ave.



Typology of Housing Projects

From slum-clearances to“Garden City” The Ramona Gardens project was designed by Housing Architects Associated, made up of Ralph Flewelling, George J. Adams, Lewis Eugene Wilson, and Eugene Weston Jr. in 1940. It was built on 32 acres (13 ha) with 610 apartment units in over 100 buildings Designed by architects David J. Witmer and Loyall F. Watson and completed in 1939, the “superblock” Wyvernwood development contained 1102 units in 143 buildings spread over approximately 70 acres. More than seventy-five percent of the property was devoted to open green space, lawns, trees, and recreational facilities. Landscape architect Hammond Sadler laid out the Modernist landscape. Estrada Courts was designed by the Housing Authority for the City of Los Angeles by Witmer and Watson, Robert Alexander and Winchton Risley. It was built in 1941 with 214 units, 31 buildings,

Current Public Housing in Boyle Heights

Despite the idea of “garden city” as a necessary respite from the noise and pollution of the busy city, all three of the public housing are adjacent freeways, making the projects as unhealthy environment to live in, despite its garden-like atmosphere. The layout also does not interact with the adjacent urban grid, causing the “garden city” projects to feel isolated from the rest of the neighborhood and easier to gate-off the community with heavy gating and security cameras, which was something the original architects did not intend.

“Garden City”

Ramona Gardens

Wyvernwood Apts.

Estrada Courts

Wyvernwood Apts.

The landscape was engineered to foster interaction within the community by incorporating active recreational facilities and encouraging residents to engage the landscape and one another. Mature trees are interspersed throughout open parkland and lawn. Buildings open out onto common greenspace areas, further enhancing the community feel. Outdoor amenities include playgrounds and asphalt walking trails, which provide passage throughout the shared space as well as room for neighbors to stroll and children to ride their bikes. The open lawn areas are often the site of impromptu soccer games and family gatherings.

Estrada Courts

Ramona Gardens

The buildings are modular, double-story Modernist multi-family complexes, that repeat in orientation and placement to create a unified, geometric layout. Originally the design was modeled after the urban ideas of the Athens Charter, the new houses are modeled after the charter for the New urbanism.

parking on-site meandering through housing blocks

gated-off community

grass landscape

modular block structure

balconies- attached

dense housing, horizontally spread out

similar back-to-front relationship between individual units

windows with bars

painted color -tans

tripartide system first fl, 2nd fl, roof

From“Garden City” to Chicano City The Estrada Gardens is still a place of great historical power as well as political and ideological tension. This is evident in the residents’ effort to take back their living conditions through the medium of street art, especially murals on walls. The Estrada Court’s Public housing project is the home of numerous murals that first appeared in the early 1970’s. Through murals, the artists reinterpreted the negative image of “the projects” to concepts of home and family. These murals can be found on almost every portion of the buildings and structures. Several of these murals, which are almost exclusively painted by Mexican Americans– date back to the 1970’s during the height of the Chicano Power struggle. The Estrada Court murals are a powerful portrayal of counter and public art with strong political and historical messages that take into account its position as a place of power and resonance.

UNTITLED Frank Lopez 1973 Portraits of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy in front of an American flag. Between the two men is an eerie list of comparisons.

TRIBUTE TO THE FARMWORKERS Alexandro Maya 1974 the United Farmworkers Union flag being raised over cultivated field by modern day agricultural workers, a Spanish soldier from the era of the Conquest, and a pre-Columbian Native American.

UNTITLED Ernesto de la Loza 1975 Pastel-hued landscape

UNTITLED Tony Nunez 1976 Landscape with bears

METHAMORPHOSIS David Rivera, George Menchaca, Louie Lopez, Jaime Rodriguez, Alberto Rincon 1977 Fantasy featuring butterfly people

MORATORIUM: THE BLACK AND WHITE MURAL WIllie Heron and Gronk 1973 A phot-realist montage portraying the 1970 anti-Vietnam War Chicano Moratorium, as well as imagery condemning police brutality in the barrio. In 1980 Herron returned to paint (in color) he and his wife embracing in the mural’s lower right corner.

IF WE COULD SHARE Lydia Dominguez 1976

UNTITLED Daniel Haro 1973 Mural of screaming woman

Resiliency: Camouflaging Barriers

Chicano City and Chicano Arts Movement Just as ASCO in the 1970’s commented on the content of Chicano murals in Instant Mural or tagged their name on public infrastructure such as LACMA and other buildings to bring awareness to inequality in the arts, a similar counter-spectacle happened around Boyle Heights.

Murals depict

Walls that usually represent physical borders and boundaries seen everywhere in Boyle Heights become reinterpreted as empty canvases. The empty walls of the modernist structure may attempt to repair the struggle of inequality and repression, but by camouflaging it with a rich painting that denotes religious, political, historical stories, the community overcomes the struggle, while making sure that history won’t be forgotten.


history violence religion


DREAMS OF FLIGHT David Botello 1973 The artists’ first solo mural reveals some of his childhood fantasies

Typology of Business on Cesar Chavez Ave.

Heart of Community Business Cesar Chavez and Soto- The corner is considered by locals and some historians as the Eastside’s premier intersection. To them, it has more importance than Hollywood and Vine or Wilshire and Rodeo. They see it as a vibrant place that was at the center of the country’s biggest Jewish community west of Chicago before World War II and the nation’s largest concentration of people of Mexican descent after it. Despite the change of the street name and the language heard on it, the intersection evokes an intimate sense of neighborhood that is often missing in Los Angeles. The retail environment suffers because of the community’s isolation from other nearby communities because it is physically separated by communities to the both by a freeway and hilly terrain and from the west and south by railroad lines and large industrial sectors. Local residents are the primary customers of most businesses. Its physical isolation is an example of both the connectedness of the community by also of the segregation faced bv the barrio.

Chavez Independently-owned Stores There are many great community-based businesses on Cesar Chavez, like the world-renowned Candelas Guitars, Mercadito, King Taco, etc. But most of the retail establishments are small Mom and Pop businesses owned by families that live in the neighborhood. Therefore, pedestrian traffic is greater than other parts of the city, which preserves the continuity of the streetscape. There are currently no regional shopping centers in Boyle Heights.

food chain

flower store

travel company

Cesar Chavez


tamale store


shoe store

pawn shop

tattoo parlor

food restaurant



shoe store

Typology of Independently-owned Stores These photos depict the typical storefront on Cesar Chavez Ave., which still hold small traces of an older Boyle Heights. The storefronts are usually reclaimed businesses in old brick or stuccoed spaces, public art on one side, safety bars, onestory structures that hand-crafted feel to them.

Murals seen on businesses could be grouped into nonpolitical, political, and religious categories. The religious symbolism Virgin of Guadalupe seen regularly on streets. Other thematic non-political subjects include Aztec imagery, wolves, hearts and death masks. Political murals usually depict political stories. The murals also depicts stories of hope, preservation, and the idea that a small seed of hope and action can break through the seemingly monolithic barriers.

independently owned

1 story

brick or stucco material

multi-colorful exterior

Signage usually in Spanish

hand-painted mural on a part of the bldg. depicting product that could be purchased in store, or a religious or Aztec representation of culture.

Signage -hand-painted, back-lit, or plasticusually an addition on the building

metal safety bar for protection

Resiliency: Independent and Local Shops

Chicano Markets The community is directly involved in its local commerce, and the people that shop at local businesses are usually neighbors. These markets depict the true typology of the shopper in Boyle Heights- small, independently-owned, handcrafted, hybridized shops that serve the needs of the community. As a whole, these markets sustain the needs of the community and give off a small-city feel that is not felt in any other place in Los Angeles. They do not cater to any corporate agenda and tend to keep the money within the neighborhood. They also challenge the preconceived notions of graffiti as vandalism by exhibiting aerosol murals throughout. Public displays of artwork within their commerce goes hand in hand. The brick 1-story shell offers an egalitarian space, where everyone has the same space to sell goods as everyone else, which makes it a true local capitalist system. The few issues at hand are the lack of access to good-quality, organic, and fresh produce in some areas.

Storefronts depict history unique signage symbolism non-corporate advertisement family-oriented

Typology of Areas of Recreation

Parks of Boyle Heights There are only two large parks in Boyle Heights- Hillenbeck park and Hazard Park. Both have been severely cut in size with the introduction of modernist agendas such as freeway building and development, leaving the neighborhood with he least parks places in the entire state, as well as the smoggiest city in the entire state. Both parks hold spaces for picnics and recreational sports.

Nevertheless, the smaller parks are usually located adjacent to schools, to promote better air quality for the kids during their hours of recreation.

Hazard Park

Hollenbeck Park

Hollenbeck Park scarred by freeway Hollenbeck Park is one of the few open green spaces in East Los Angeles. The park was once an idyllic place for recreation and community gathering. The construction of a freeway through the lake in the park destroyed its serenity. Hollenbeck Park remains popular picnic spot for the residents. The old dock where leisure boats were rented in the past still remains.

Resiliency: Nature’s Ability to Survive

Hazard Park Hiding a Wetland Hazard Park is tucked away behind County USC Medical Center and Bravo Medical High School and is bordered by North Soto St. one theory suggestst that the old arroyo de los pasos is the source of the waterfor the creek. another hints that a section of the old zanja madre irrigation system, was built shorly after the city’s founding in 1781, provides the wetland’s water. still another suggests that the hazard water is from springs. Founded in 1884, the park is named for former Los Angeles Mayor Henry Thomas Hazard and was a popular place for outings at the turn of the last century. The 2-acre section, which was once part of a railroad easement through Hazard, has some vegetation that thrives in water, such as cattails, willows and sedges. In addition, researchers have found fresh-water snails and crayfish. Several years ago, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff members discovered a variety of birds, including the Anna’s hummingbird, the northern mockingbird and the American crow, in Hazard. There is also a small reservoir that sits on hill above Hazard Park. After its construction, the reservoir was ringed by large mounds of earth piled around it which could be viewed from all over the city, sullying the beautiful views of the neighborhood. After numerous grievances, the reservoir had been made a “swimming hole for boys and a resort for dangerous men.”

Park opportunities restored wetlands restored community identity enhanced riparian habitat

Typology of Healthcare Landscape

Elitist Approach to Healthcare The LA USC Medical Center is a 600-bed public teaching hospital located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. It is jointly operated by Los Angeles County and the University of Southern California. Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center is one of the largest public hospitals and medical training centers in the United States, and the largest single provider of healthcare in Los Angeles County. The hospital was always a visible symbol of modernist thought of hygiene and design. It sits like an “ivory tower” on a hill on a campus-like setting, with clear borders around its site. It is also completely disconnected from the adjacent urban grid, and does not hold any community programs on its site. The hospital is also ill-equipped in handling people who don’t speak English well, which causes language barrier between the barrio and the campus. Just the sole image of “illegal immigrants” deters many from seeking healthcare.

modernist answer to health

ivory tower on hill

inaccessible to all

no connection with neighborhood

New Addition

Historic past

Current, built 1950

Resiliency: Local Preventative Healthcare

Local Pharmacies Due to the lack of accessible healthcare, Boyle Heights has one of the largest independently run pharmacies, that also serve the purpose of minimal preventative healthcare. It combines the pharmaceutical power of Western medicine with the herbal power of Mexican medicine in one location.

public art on exterior

combines pharmacy with other businesses such as food court, convenience store, local produce, alternative medicine, etc.

brick cladding

ambiance of small-town pharmacy from 1950’s

large signage

Boyle Heights- The First Stitch on a Scarred Landscape

Boyle Heights is poor health. The solution is a holistic, bottom-up approach to create a healthy and sustainable community without fear of gentrification. The community has developed a methology of grassroots activism to deal with infrastructural fragmentation, which needs to be incorporated into future development. Just as murals cover walls once considered dividing barriers, existing infrastructure may be redesigned in order to provide site-specific services and therefore be “taken back” by the community. Development of community advocacy for youth, immigration, education, affordable housing and business development should come through the development of dedicated spaces. Outreach programs must be implemented in order to foster and develop awareness of the necessity for preventative healthcare. The health of the residents is proportional to that of the community and that is the essence to this approach.

Looking into the future, the Chicano population is destined to become the “new poly-lingual society,” with Anglos in the minority. If those communities look at their neighborhoods through the material, social, cultural, and imaginative lens, then those features will be expressed in the future city to convey public history in the urban landscape, as well as the new and developing “histories of American cultural landscapes and the buildings within them”.

Works Cited “Asco: Elite of the Obscure, A Retrospective, 1972-1987” LACMA. LACMA. Web. 04 Oct. 2011 “Boyle Heights, Los Angeles.”,_Los_Angeles. Wikipedia, 23 Sept. 2011, Web. 04 Oct. 2011. Chavoya, Ondine. “Internal Exiles: The Interventionist Public and Performance Art of Asco.” Space, Site, Intervention: Situating Installation Art. Ed. Minnesota: Univ Of Minnesota Press. 2000. 189-205. Print. Davis, Mike. City of Quartz. Vintage: First Edition edition, 1992. Print. Fox, Howard. “SoCal Content: The Big Picture.” Catalog LA: Birth of an Art Capital 1955-1985. Chronicle Books, 2007. 30-48. Print. Grenier, Catherine. “Experimental City.” Catalog LA: Birth of an Art Capital 1955-1985. Chronicle Books, 2007. 17-30. Print. Hayden, Dolores. The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997. Print. Knight, Christopher. “Art review: ‘Asco: Elite of the Obscure, 1972-1987’ at LACMA” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 09 Sept. 2011. Web. 04 Oct. 2011. Kwon, Miwon. One Place after Another: Site Specific Art and Locational Identity. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004. Print. “Self Help Graphics and Art”. Wikipedia, 15 Sept. 2011, Web. 04 Oct. 2011. “Your Art Disgusts Me: Early Asco 1971-75”. East of Borneo, 18 Nov. 2010. Web. 04 Oct. 2011.

Graham, Stephen. “Placing Splintering Urbanism” University of Paris. Web. 04 Oct. 2011 Ananya, Roy. “The 21st Century metropolis- new geographies of theory ” Department of City of Regional Planning. Univ Of Berkley Press. 2000. Print. Maltzan, Michael. Cultural Infrastructure. Vintage: First Edition edition, 1992. Print. Gandy, Matthew. “Rethinking Urban Metabolism: Water, Space, and the Modern City.” Urban Metabolism. Carfac Publishing, 2004. Print. Allen, Stan. Infrastructural Urbanism. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1987. Print.

Boyle Heights Rx: A New Holistic Landscape  

A look at the discriminatory history of Boyle Heights in Los Angeles, California. The booklet questions whether Boyle Heights can interweave...