Monday, December 9, 2013

Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw - Melissa Moore

        When I first arrived in L.A I admit that I thought it would be similar to any modern day bustling city. I thought that this huge and wondrous state would be as diverse as my home Philadelphia or even as diverse as its east coast counterpart, New York. I was unpleasantly surprised to find out that the city is very evidently segregated by not only class but race. This separation is so drastic that one can drive from one neighborhood to the next and literally see only one race in each section of the city. It is not weird to see this in the city that I live but not this drastically. I began to notice the lack of African American people during my commute to my internship as well as just hanging out in various parts around the city. I began to wonder where all the black people were. So I asked my older cousin who happened to live out here where the black people had gone and he told me South Central L.A which meant Crenshaw, Compton, Inglewood, Ladera Heights and Baldwin Hills. I was immediately intrigued by Baldwin Hills because BET Networks where I had interned had had a show that filmed on location there years ago. So one day he picked me up and we drove through this section of the city. It had an amazing view of Hollywood, tons of beautiful of homes, and weirdly enough large oil pumps. Apparently the area had for quite some time been used for drilling petroleum and finding oil wells. My cousin mentioned that “white flight” was the cause of the racial lines but for the most part white people are moving back into the neighborhood. I still did not see very many though. As far as the architecture of the homes they seemed felt way more open and inviting. Very few of them had the high gates and high bushes that fence off the homes of places like Beverly Hills. The houses even looked a little more uniform than anywhere else I had seen in the city. But I suppose that the more expensive homes were further up the hills, hidden away.

       I wanted to visit the Museum of African American Art but because of their hours unfortunately I was unable to. It was still nice however to ride through this part of the city and see all the black owned businesses and even the middle class and upper class black homes. Diversity has been such a big part of my life that seeing defined sections of the city really kind of shocked me. Through some research I was also able to find that the first Olympic Village was built there to house the athletes in the 1932 Olympics. It was later destroyed. There was also a damn collapse in Baldwin Hills in the 60's killed five people and destroyed 65 homes. It is interesting to walk through these neighborhoods and compare them to other parts of the city. It truly is a surprising, unique and individual place.

Melissa Moore

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