As the Dodgers gear up for Game 6 of the World Series — once again, on their home turf — it's worth remembering that before Dodger Stadium was a legendary baseball venue, it was known as Chavez Ravine.
The area was home to generations of families, most of them Mexican-American.
After the Dodgers made the deal to ditch Brooklyn, Los Angeles officials used eminent domain and other political machinations to wrest that land away from its owners.
It was ugly. It was violent. It remains the sort of living history that residents of a city don't like to remember.
Chavez Ravine was named after Julian Chavez, a rancher who served as assistant mayor, city councilman and, eventually, as one of L.A. County's first supervisors. In 1844, he started buying up land in what was known as the Stone Quarry Hills, an area with several separate ravines. Chavez died of a heart attack in 1879, at the age of 69.
By the early 1900s, semi-rural communities had sprung up on the steep terrain, mostly on the ridges between the neighboring Sulfur and Cemetery ravines.
What eventually came to be called Chavez Ravine encompassed about 315 acres and had three main neighborhoods — Palo Verde, La Loma and Bishop.
It had its own grocery store, church and elementary school. Many residents grew their own food and raised animals such as pigs, goats and turkeys.
Many Mexican-American families that were red-lined and prevented from moving into other neighborhoods, established themselves in Chavez Ravine.
Outsiders often saw the neighborhood as a slum. City officials decided that Chavez Ravine was under-utilized and ripe for redevelopment, kicking off a decade-long battle over the land.
They labeled it "blighted" and came up with a plan for a massive public housing project, known as Elysian Park Heights.
Designed by architects Robert E. Alexander and Richard Neutra and funded in part by federal money, the project would include more than 1,000 units — two dozen 13-story buildings and 160 two-story townhouses — as well as several new schools and playgrounds.
In the early 1950s, the city began trying to convince Chavez Ravine homeowners to sell. Many didn't want to, despite intense pressure from authorities. Officials often used the power of eminent domain to acquire plots of land and force residents out of their homes.
In 1953, the Elysian Park Heights project fell apart. The city's new mayor, Norris Poulson, opposed public housing as "un-American," as did many business leaders who wanted the land for private development.
The city of Los Angeles bought back the land, at a much lower price, from the Federal Housing Authority — with the agreement that the city would use it for a public purpose.
By 1957, only 20 families, holdouts who had fought the city's offers to buy and reclaim their land, were still living in Chavez Ravine.
In June of 1958, voters approved (by a slim, 3 percent margin) a referendum to trade 352 acres of land at Chavez Ravine to the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Walter O'Malley.
The following year, the city began clearing the land for the stadium. On Friday, May 9, 1959, bulldozers and sheriff's deputies showed up to forcibly evict the last few families in Chavez Ravine.
Crews eventually knocked down the ridge separating the Sulfur and Cemetery ravines and filled them in, burying Palo Verde Elementary School in the process.
The 56,000-seat Dodger Stadium opened on April 10, 1962, on a site that thousands of people had once called home.