Past, Present and Future; Boyle Heights on the Verge of Gentrification?

Open spaces, many faces, all around us have come and gone; memories frozen in time. This neighborhood called many names, has posed many fame on such films, but this is my reality, the place I have called home for many years, many of my childhood, adolescent and adult years. This is Boyle Heights, grab a map and locate downtown Los Angeles and there move your finger eastward, and you will find the working-class community in which the majority of its residents are predominantly of Mexican descent. There you will find a community rich in soul with much pride, along the many faces that tell a thousand stories with one glance about their native homeland and their current beautiful struggle.

This is a place that has remained to hold on to its cultural ties and has embraced it to the fullest with the local mom and pop spots ranging from Panaderias, Carnicerias, tortillerias, abarrotes and more all along the different stretched out streets of Cesar Chavez Avenue (formerly known as Brooklyn Avenue), 4th , Soto & 1st. With its past being tied to a kaleidoscope of cultures, from Japanese to Jewish immigrants and other Eastern European immigrants, not only were they the majority at the time with Mexicans being the minority, this later on changed with the surge of more Mexican and Central American immigrants inhabiting Boyle Heights.

On its verge to being the one neighborhood who has not been hit with as such gentrification as other surrounding neighborhoods such as Echo Park, Silver Lake and Highland Park, Boyle Heights seems to be the next target on the Gentrification hit list. With talks about transforming a local, historical landmark in the community, the Sears Tower is said to become a new up and coming shopping center with luxurious living spaces up above it and other retail spaces, but one must ask what this would do for the community.

Change is inevitable, but not only is this space a place of considerable dispute, but along the 1st street corridor hub where the local mariachi musicians meet, we have began to see sprinkles of gentrification with new “hip” night life places who have taken over some of the local mom and pop spots. Little by little it is becoming more apparent, if and when this continues, as it has in other nearby neighborhoods, what will this do for property owners and the majority of people who have lived in the community for decades as they are renters. With the high demand of such, many locals who rent will suffer as developers will come and take over. Is this a covert effort to displace our people from our community? Boyle Heights known for its hard-working class, and rich culture each and every street corner will have much to consider as the shadows of gentrification are slowly creeping in to the neighborhood.

The future of its people and community of Boyle Heights will depend on its united sole purpose of solidarity. Those exact memories I have growing up in this neighborhood, the many faces of those hard working people who have always been a proud group and instilled pride amongst our youth should not fade. Those same diligent people who through blood, sweat and tears build their businesses from the ground up are what make up our community of Boyle Heights, and should never let up. In the efforts for this push one must fight back because this is who we are; We are Boyle Heights.

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