It’s a rare to see a sports team encapsulate a city and be a part of it’s culture. Baseball, despite being labeled as slow and boring, seems to always unite and make this type of mark on a city.Whether it’s the Cubs with Chicago, the Red Sox with Boston, the Yankees with New York or the Dodgers with Los Angeles (and so many more) these teams stand for so much more than just the win/loss record at the end of a season. As the cliche goes, a trip out to the ballpark is a trip that will always be cherished and remembered, after all baseball is America’s past time for a reason.
However, being an Angeleno, I am predisposed to be a Dodger guy and for that reason, we will focus on the Dodgers, and that fair, I mean, I think I’ve had enough of the world talking about the Cubs for one lifetime.
So back to the Dodgers… the Dodgers mean so much to the City of Angels. Whether it’s Vin Scully were talking about, or the days of Sandy Koufax or Fernando Venezuela, to be considered a true Angeleno you must resonate with something related to the Dodgers. I’m a sucker for nostalgia so maybe that’s just me. Regardless, being such a diverse city, it serve as a rare but often occasion for people of all background to come together, enjoy the same entertainment, and root for the same outcome, which naturally brings people together. Dodger stadium has been the venue for such an occasion since the 1960’s so for many people it’s been a place of joy for decades and will be only be remembered that way. That’s great and all, but that’s only one side of the story.
For many Angelenos, Dodger stadium will be remembered as the label for the theft of what was their home, know as Chavez Ravine.
It all started with the Housing Act of 1949, under President Truman, which among other things allowed for the creation of public housing. The Los Angeles mayor at the time, Fletcher Brown, wanted to remove all the “blight” in the city, which pretty much meant to get rid of all the slums.
At the same time, a sprawling area known as Chavez Ravine was home to many hispanics that had been there for decades, with much of the houses in their being built by hands by ancestors. The area was known to have a strong sense of community but nonetheless got written off as a slum. Due to Chavez Ravine being surrounded by freeways, with easy access to downtown Los Angeles or the beach, the area was targeted as a place to expand public housing. All the current residents were promised that they’d get first dibs on the new units and that they would be taken care of. Some people were convinced by this that they should leave, but others, citing their families building the homes and living their forever would not leave their homes and had to be forcefully removed under the power of eminent domain.
As the houses were set to be built, a new mayor was elected and all the plans fell through, but still the area was highly desirable piece of land and was not going to leave the government’s hands. So what did they do… as I mentioned in my previous posts, what governments do when people are struggling, Which is unfortunately build new stadiums. Yes they built dodger stadium and basically screwed over all the people that lived there. So next time you’re eating a dodger dog, just remember, that this place isn’t so jolly after all.
For more on the story, please watch this video, which touches upon the story of Chavez Ravine and the individuals who lives it impacted.