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(Photo Story) Landscapes of Gentrification

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Group Picture

On May 11, students, friends and siblings pose for a group photo with Dr. Graves. Photo credit: Blake Berry

While exploring landscapes of gentrification, a small group of CSUN students went on a “taco tour” led by CSUN geography Professor Dr. Graves. The group was made up of predominantly geography majors and explored parts of east Los Angeles, a place that has bared witness to waves of immigration, and a variety of ethnic and cultural groups that once claimed this area as home.

Observations

On May 11, Dr. Graves informs Madeline about the area of east Los Angeles and its culturally diverse history. Photo credit: Blake Berry

Walking Through Boyle Heights

The group is lead through East LA by no one other than Dr. Graves, as they make there way to the first taqueria on May 11, 2019. Photo credit: Blake Berry

Guisados

Dr. Graves orders a sample platter containing different types of tacos for everyone participating in the trip on May 11. Photo credit: Blake Berry

On Saturday, May 11, Dr. Graves and students met up at Mariachi Plaza located in the Boyle Heights district of the city, just east of downtown. Here they started their tour on foot and towards the first taqueria of the day, Guisadoras.

Commuting back to the station

Dr. Graves and field trip group members navigate the streets of Boyle Heights as they head back to Mariachi Plaza. Photo credit: Blake Berry

As they walked around many of the students were quick to point out areas of the city that looked to be subjected to gentrification.

Jims

We came across Jim's Drive-thru. A place where both tacos, pastrami and burgers are all on the same menu. Photo credit: Blake Berry

In an excerpt taken from a textbook by Dr. Graves called “Introduction to Human Geography: A Disciplinary Approach,” “Gentrification is a process that usually begins with people of lower social status gradually improving a neighborhood until people from higher social status consider it a desirable location and begin occupying it.”

In a place that has experienced such a diverse number of ethnic communities settle, live and move away such as the city of east LA, it makes geographers like Dr. Graves feel like a kid in a candy store.

Conversation

Daniel and Dr. Graves converse about ethnic diversity of east LA and its possible future. Photo credit: Blake Berry

Tacos from Mares

Fish Tacos from El 7 Mares. "Best fish tacos in East LA" according to Dr. Graves. Photo credit: Blake Berry

Daniel seen here talking to Dr. Graves at our third and final stop of the tour, El 7 Mares, for some fish tacos. Daniel is a CSUN grad student and heard about Dr. Graves’ tour through an email he was sent. Daniel told me that it’s great that Dr. Graves offers these tours every once in a while for students, explaining that some people have to pay for these types of things and will still never get the same experience as the one Dr. Graves provides.

Cesar E Chavez Ave.

On May 11, 2019, the field trip lead the group through the streets of East LA. Photo credit: Blake Berry

East Los Angeles has seen Italians, Germans, French, Russians, Armenians and Japanese move in and out of the city over time. Many of these groups were fleeing from turmoil and repression that was present in their homeland. Repression of Jews throughout eastern Europe brought an influx of Jewish immigrants into the city. The Jewish population kept rising through the end of WWII. At the same time, Mexico’s unstable government and economy forced a number of the immigrants to leave their lives behind and come north.

Old Synagogue

On May 11, Dr. Graves stands in front of an old and now abandoned synagogue. Just one of the many remnants of the huge Jewish community that once lived here. Photo credit: Blake Berry

As Dr. Graves led us through a section of the city, he would constantly remind us that many aspects of both Japanese and Jewish communities can still be seen in the landscape today although it is now mostly catered to the Hispanic culture. During our tour we saw a Japanese temple, an abandoned synagogue, as well as fast food restaurants where both pastrami sandwiches and burritos shared a place on the menu.

Reading Russian

Daniel, Dr. Graves, Robert O'keefe and Son look at a sign written in Russian while waiting for the Metro Rail. Photo credit: Blake Berry

After a long day of walking, talking and eating, the members of the group that still remained, including Dr. Graves, took the LA Metro train back to north Hollywood Station. There everyone said their goodbyes and thanked Dr. Graves for the experience and good times. This is not the first time Dr. Graves has held a trip like this before.

Dr. Steve Graves

Dr. Graves waits for the Redline back to North Hollywood Station on May, 11, 2019. Photo credit: Blake Berry

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