How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Boyle Heights, the 'Ellis Island of the West Coast'

Today's Patt Morrison show on KPCC featured a segment on one of my favorite Los Angeles neighborhoods, Boyle Heights.

The neighborhood has been a part of my life since childhood, having grown up not far away in Huntington Park. We shopped at the Sears on Olympic Boulevard, took our sick to White Memorial Medical Center on Cesar Chavez Avenue. For all its problems, this is a part of town that holds memories for many an Eastside-raised Angeleno. The show dedicated a special interactive web page to the Boyle Heights segment, with video and other elements, and this description:

It’s the Ellis Island of the West Coast, the community in which the first immigrants from a myriad of different ethnic and religious groups settled and one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Boyle Heights, at one time home to Jewish and Japanese immigrants and now predominantly Latino, is the focal point for how the city of Los Angeles has served low income families and whether future development will protect those most vulnerable residents.

There are interviews with city leaders, health and housing workers and others with a stake in Boyle Heights. They talk about the past, present and future of the neighborhood, where the real estate boom displaced some residents and there is fear of more displacement from gentrification.

I only did a little bit of work here, interviewing mariachi Juan Rojas (no relation), one of the many musicians in Boyle Heights' Mariachi Plaza. Videographer Grant Slater filmed and edited.

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