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Unstable Women: Eminent Domain and Womanhood in 20th Century Los Angeles

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Abstract:

This work-in-progress explores four neighborhoods in twentieth-century Los Angeles that were condemned in eminent domain proceedings. Each neighborhood had been established by a different ethnic community with different class identities. The public land-use policies that allowed condemnation were built on the constitutional premise of “the public good;" this project explores the application of that term and the ramifications for women in particular. In a women’s history context, the early and mid-twentieth century tied women’s security and value to their family, home and community. What did it mean that these women’s homes were taken from them?

The 1924 removal of property from all African American residents in Manhattan Beach, including the only strip of coastline in Los Angeles where blacks could legally access the ocean, ended a vital and comfortable African American community there. The 1942 relocation of Japanese Americans from Terminal Island, Los Angeles Harbor, took place in a wartime context that was used to justify the seizure and destruction of all buildings and property within a week of removal. The 1950 condemnation of Chavez Ravine near downtown Los Angeles uprooted families of Mexican Americans who had lived an idyllic rural life there for generations. In 1959, between the Los Angeles Airport (later Los Angeles International Airport) and the Pacific Ocean, the city began condemning the homes of upper middle-class white families in Playa del Rey where lawsuits against airport expansion and increased jet engine noise were proliferating (the removal process was completed in 1975).

While the larger study emanating from this work will be complex in the intersections of race, gender and class, this poster will provide the descriptive backdrop - illustrations of the neighborhoods and their residents, a map of their locations relative to each other, and charts providing income, occupation and other attributes based on census data. Few visuals exist from the African American community but newspaper articles, maps, and other relevant material provide some visual reference for the community. Visual materials abound for the other three communities. In keeping with the intended focus on women’s experience of eminent domain, the poster will include visual representations of social norms or expectations for women that emphasized family, home and community, at the same time that the women in these communities had these things forcibly removed from them.
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Association:
Name: American Historical Association
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http://www.historians.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p123903_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Walsh, Eileen. "Unstable Women: Eminent Domain and Womanhood in 20th Century Los Angeles" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, Hilton Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott, and Hyatt Regency, Atlanta, GA, Jan 04, 2007 <Not Available>. 2013-12-16 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p123903_index.html>

APA Citation:

Walsh, E. P. , 2007-01-04 "Unstable Women: Eminent Domain and Womanhood in 20th Century Los Angeles" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, Hilton Atlanta, Atlanta Marriott, and Hyatt Regency, Atlanta, GA <Not Available>. 2013-12-16 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p123903_index.html

Publication Type: Poster
Abstract: This work-in-progress explores four neighborhoods in twentieth-century Los Angeles that were condemned in eminent domain proceedings. Each neighborhood had been established by a different ethnic community with different class identities. The public land-use policies that allowed condemnation were built on the constitutional premise of “the public good;" this project explores the application of that term and the ramifications for women in particular. In a women’s history context, the early and mid-twentieth century tied women’s security and value to their family, home and community. What did it mean that these women’s homes were taken from them?

The 1924 removal of property from all African American residents in Manhattan Beach, including the only strip of coastline in Los Angeles where blacks could legally access the ocean, ended a vital and comfortable African American community there. The 1942 relocation of Japanese Americans from Terminal Island, Los Angeles Harbor, took place in a wartime context that was used to justify the seizure and destruction of all buildings and property within a week of removal. The 1950 condemnation of Chavez Ravine near downtown Los Angeles uprooted families of Mexican Americans who had lived an idyllic rural life there for generations. In 1959, between the Los Angeles Airport (later Los Angeles International Airport) and the Pacific Ocean, the city began condemning the homes of upper middle-class white families in Playa del Rey where lawsuits against airport expansion and increased jet engine noise were proliferating (the removal process was completed in 1975).

While the larger study emanating from this work will be complex in the intersections of race, gender and class, this poster will provide the descriptive backdrop - illustrations of the neighborhoods and their residents, a map of their locations relative to each other, and charts providing income, occupation and other attributes based on census data. Few visuals exist from the African American community but newspaper articles, maps, and other relevant material provide some visual reference for the community. Visual materials abound for the other three communities. In keeping with the intended focus on women’s experience of eminent domain, the poster will include visual representations of social norms or expectations for women that emphasized family, home and community, at the same time that the women in these communities had these things forcibly removed from them.

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