on the street
images are from approximately four months, starting in the spring of 2015 as highland park sleeps through the impending upheaval. its business as usual. analysing the situation in retrospect, it appears the collective consciousness of a group of land owners can see the changes and are starting to visualise the profit potentials in their minds. by early the following year many properties are up for sale. and, by the end of 2015 the landscape will be extraordinarily different.
we start on york boulevard across the street from cafe de leche where the first visible sign of gentrification arrived around 2009. its opening is a major event and can be qualified as revitalisation for sometime. it is the first new retail to open with a complete makeover, cafe de leche’s owners envisioned it as a multi-cultural and multi-racial hub. the aesthetic was decidedly contemporary and had more in common with an industrial upscale swork in eagle rock than a cafe antigua on figueroa. today it is fairly multi-cultural in some respects showing art from avenue 50 studio’s chicano artists, while the racial diversity of its customers is limited to their economic diversity, that is wealthy white and assimilated people of colour.
other businesses such as the restaurant “the wild hare” that displaced the chinese karaoke bar and restaurant may have opened and closed its doors before cafe de leche opened or, clare graham and the mor/york gallery that has been there since the 90s. neither operated traditional hours, so their presence went largely unnoticed. however, in around 2006, mor/york painted their name on the building exterior in a modern sans serif typeface and it was quickly tagged the next day. that low level resistance did not last long when johnny’s bar and the investor driven york opened up. the artist brian malman also contributed fuel to the change by staking claim for the art and creative class by appropriating the empty gas station lot signage. malman, an eagle rock resident replaced the old mobile station’s with his art statement, “form, line, here, art gallery,” in what appeared to be a support of the kristi engle gallery that relocated from downtown. in a coffee driven exercise i performed traffic counts from the corner of cafe de leche. in 2009 it was fair to say you could see an obvious 15-20 people of colour per hour coming and going from the bus stops to retail and the residential. today in 2016 it has become a destination street for consumers from around the city. its traffic is easily 50-60 people per hour mostly from their own vehicles or walking from residential.
figueroa street runs north and south. it is seemingly similar to an outsider’s eye. however, it has a stronger economic base that many of the businesses on york. the architectural scale is grander, the boulevard wider, lot sizes have more square footage and has institutional businesses. york developed as a tributary of figueroa. at one time figueroa had a rail line shuffling materials from eagle rock to los angeles. it is the elder of the two streets with the first church being built here in 1900 and with several other destinations such as the highland theatre, the ebell club, the mason’s lodge and many more local restaurants. york’s historic destination hubs share a similarity with the current spaces. mor/york gallery was formerly an open air style safeway store, while café de leche was a mid-century diner.
the greyhound becomes the epicenter of the figueroa gentrification wave. it displaces a sleepy, but cavernous pupuseria that served 99 cent pupusas and aguas frescas. a self-employed gardener could feed his family for twenty to thirty dollars. in contrast the new greyhound serves $11 draft beers and primarily serves a local and exclusive audience of assimilated latinos and wealthy whites from the hills. its presence was preceded by future studio by many years. however, the home of chicken boy as it is also known had deep community roots and accessible art despite being associated with the creative class that dominated york boulevard. the fitness gym pop physique opens shortly after the greyhound and foreshadows the future of figueroa with a clash of aesthetics and lifestyles.
because the previously mentioned scale and proliferation of figueroa’s “latino urbanism” it has not folded as quickly. highland park developed as a sub-economy of the surrounding wealthy enclaves of pasadena and glendale providing them with a domestic labour force. the gardeners and street vendors are highly visible on the streets and at the panederias and mercados of highland park, but we speculate they are undercounted in statistical data because of their cash economy. the population imported their native value system which is what we are now calling “latino urbanism” as a means to meet its own community needs. food service and entertainment make up 10%, manufacturing another 10%, but the largest workforce in highland park is clearly the health, education and social workers at twenty one percent. all these working class segments are being destabilised by the shifting wealth in the economy. unfortunately, unless they are land owners, they will be locked out of any benefits that will result from this economic shift. the same scenario awaits the core businesses of inexpensive restaurants, clothing stores, pharmacies, hair salons and dollar stores that anchor the vibrant street life. they will come under threat in the following year when values increase even further.
(see image captions for more info)
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in the process of covering the changes gentrification brings to highland park i have discovered the many overlooked details we all pass by everyday. this is a continuing series of images found in the streets.
this is a proof set only and have not been retouched for print, but please inquire if you are interested in purchasing archival prints. we can also create a custom triptych or diptych for your individual space in a variety of sizes or mounts.
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from the series, “the love train” and assorted street sessions. the bulk are from new years eve 2013, but some from as early as 12.14.12 through early 2014. this series is constantly growing and changing from every moment on the street with a camera. this is the third edit for some of these, while others get added or dropped.
street photography is beat poetry written while swimming in the current. it is a flip chart of time and a record of a city or space for a decade or an era, that is if it survives the day after… this series of street photographs explores the la metro. style, culture and aesthetics constantly change, but people do not. we are afraid, we are voyeurs and exhibitionists, we are together on the train or bus and we do human things. we come and go worrying about things and forgetting more than we worry about. the human race is to the finish line of death. with that eventuality comes all the fears and joys of being human. this series of images on the metro explore how we use this constructed space or our city hive to fulfill our own needs of comfort and dreams.
in the beginning my early street images were distant from what i was searching for. on the road to making these images i found the guilt and pity of street photography. we peer into the intimacy of other’s lives seeking the beauty of being. that i am human and sometimes lapse in the pursuit is my fault. i forget they are gifts given to me by the subjects and not something to be taken. this time we spend running and in transit between moments of connection and contemplation trying to get to the next one, and the next one. the rich strut through the subway, the lovers embrace, the homeless find refuge while the poor are trying to get home. the train, the car, the bus is our solace as it is our window to the world.
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07.04.13. york boulevard runs through the northern section of highland park as the primary east-west artery of the community. it disappears at the arroyo seco bridge where the street turns into pasadena avenue. after a brief turn on pasadena avenue it becomes mission street which is also the east-west artery for south pasadena. before the goldline this road ran seamlessly between these two photographs and these two neighbourhoods.
the socio-economic differences between the two subjects is evident. to further illustrate the dichotomy of south pasadena and highland park when these images were taken, homes in south pasadena were a solid $500-$600k, while highland park’s were barely reaching $300k and rents ranged from $700-$850 per month. as of this day rent for a one-bedroom apartment in highland park has doubled to more than $1500 dollars, homes are listing in the $700k range, while south pasadena remains stable and has inched up incrementally. the problem is not the land values, but the unequal consequences for long time residents and people living on the margins of society. highland park has a 38% poverty rate and starting around 2014 homelessness, evictions and rent increases exploded.
these images and text are part of a series that explores gentrification in highland park. the multi-year study is part if the sin turistas archive and collective.
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from street sessions 07.20.13, 07.27.13, 12.02.13, 06.05.14 and 07.30.14.
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abstracts and fragments from the arizona landscape.
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lunch with my sister august 27, 2013.
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these few images are from the sin turistas workshop project that i organise and instruct. the student works can be found on our facebook page, but these are some of mine that were shot during various sessions.
highland park is an old neighbourhood of los angeles that is rapidly changing. it appears to be facing a similar fate as in brooklyn, new york. the residents in highland park were primarily 70% latino in the mid 2000s. their environment is rapidly being replaced by a hip, young, urban and middle class white environment. while the latino population has fallen a small amount, the white population has exploded leaving latinos at 53% of the population. the changing landscape has raised nieghbourhood’s property values and shifted the business services. these rising values have started to displace the most vulnerable.
this set of images goes back and forth from both groups, just as the arguments go back and forth between economic development versus displacing the existing economies. this topic is a personal project. i grew up in northeast los angeles of which highland park is the northern most area. i have been watching this change since i was a boy from one immigrant group to another.
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published, an assignment about retail on montana avenue.