Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Place for the People's History

A People’s Guide to Los Angeles by Laura Pulido, Laura Barraclough, and Wendy Cheng. Published by University of California Press, 2012.

Of all the guidebooks you could pick up for insightful entries on what to see and where to go in Los Angeles, A People’s Guide to Los Angeles provides for your thirst to understand the people’s struggles as its citizens. Its historical information notwithstanding, this guidebook is happily light on dates and so emphasizes the meaningful aspects, the people's history reasons for visiting or learning about a place.

A regional map is the front illustration for every one of the book’s 7 sections, clearly identifying locations in the larger context of Greater Los Angeles. You can easily see, for example, that the Port of Los Angeles Liberty Hill Plaza, Bethlehem Steel Shipyard, and the Former Japanese Community (on Terminal Island) are within minutes of each other and very close to the 110 Freeway. Sites in this area are associated with such divers twentieth century struggles as racial discrimination, labor union strikes, endangered species repopulation, recognition for ethnicity, and historical military bases, to name a few. At the end of each entry mention is made of sites and restaurants you could visit close by. So after the discussion of labor strikes so important to the Port of Los Angeles and Liberty Hill Plaza, the Harry Bridges Institute and the Los Angeles Maritime Museum are listed. As well in this section you’ll find The Drum Barracks Civil War Museum and the San Pedro Bay Historical Archives, all with addresses and phone numbers and web site urls where applicable.

If you drive south on Harbor Boulevard, right to the coast, you'll arrive at White Point Preserve and Education Center, one of the southern-most sites on the regional map for The Harbor and South Bay. Not only is the area of interest for its two-level feature, both high above the Bay and at tide level, but it also has a peoples' history. A lower stretch of rocky coastline includes Royal Palms County Beach, which used to host Japanese fishing and fish-processing in the early 20th century and later a resort with hotel and spa. Then during World War II there were U.S. military operations in the area. Now a Superfund site for reduction of hazardous waste, the Preserve serves as a nature educational site and museum. See the web site for the Preserve for more information. Notes after the entry for White Point mention the Cabrillo Beach and Marine Aquarium and Point Fermin Lighthouse—sites available within minutes’ drive of the Preserve.

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