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Urban Design

Planetizen Takes a Look at Latino Urbanism


Josh Stephens has written an interesting and intelligent article over at Planetizen entitled, "Out Of The Enclave: Latinos Adapt, And Adapt To, The American City."Intentionally or not, the article shows that Latino communities existing inside urban areas are way ahead of the rest of the curve when it comes to creating public spaces in the misdesigned urban areas we call home.  In short, while the rest of America was building cities around the car, they were fighting to reclaim public space in communities abandoned by Caucasians that weren't built with public gatherings in mind.

To wet your appetite, here's an excerpt from the article.  Now get to reading, there's going to be a pop quiz on Monday:

Latinos are also prolific gardeners, especially in places wherecommunity gardens are accessible, and they use temporary farmersmarkets as community gathering places rather than just venues to buyproduce. And whereas homeowners association guidelines often dictatewhat shade of paint a suburban house may wear, Latino neighborhoods areadorned with murals, hand-painted storefronts, and other“do-it-yourself design interventions,” according to Rojas.

Though it may look like idle loitering, Latino social life and evencommerce take place on streetcorners, strip-mall parking lots, andsidewalks, many of which are cramped and narrow yet provide crucialspace in which day laborers find jobs and street vendors sell food andwares from pushcarts and vans. And because their rates of car ownershipare relatively low, Latinos tend to use sidewalks for the novel purposeof walking.

“Latinos are going to continue to take advantage of any open spacethat’s available,” said Los Angeles City Council Member Ed Reyes. “Wecome from a cultural tradition of mercados and central plazas.”

Photo: Planetizen

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