How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

American snapshot: Hollenbeck Park

Photo courtesy of Steve Saldivar


It used to be a common sight, people reading newspapers in the park. It isn't so much anymore, but this reader on a recent Saturday embodies the research: Latinos remain more loyal to print media than their non-Latino American counterparts, one of the reasons why Spanish-language media has fared better overall than English-language outlets in the media industry downturn.

Add fallen leaves, green grass and a bench in Boyle Heights' Hollenbeck Park for a perfect reading spot.

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American snapshot: Downey

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Veladoras at Fresh & Easy? In Downey, yes.

Seeing these the other day made me do a slight double take, as Fresh & Easy's stock tends to be uniformly predictable from store to store - the same few brands, the same pricey pre-made salads, the same packaged organic apples.

But the fact that the candles were on display at the grocery chain's store in Downey, a suburb whose largely middle-class Latino population has more than doubled in the past two decades, made perfect sense. It's yet another small example of an evolving Southern California, a place where organic fruit and veladoras coexist under the same roof.

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American snapshot: Hermosa Beach

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC


Driving around the South Bay today in search of wind damage, I came across something you don't often encounter on the left coast, or much anywhere west of the Midwest. This display of Swedish American pride in an apartment window on Hermosa Avenue came replete with a traditional Christmas ornament (squint and you'll see it), a straw animal figurine.

Let the holiday glögg flow. With more wind predicted, a cup sounds pretty good at the moment.

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