In a guest piece for LAist, Glen Creason, the Los Angeles Public Library’s longtime map librarian and author of “Los Angeles in Maps,” explores the vibrant history of immigrants in early Los Angeles, and their seminal role in building the city. He has also shared a number of maps from the Los Angeles Public Library’s archive.
By Glen Creason
In reflecting on the current abomination of officially sanctioned national xenophobia and bigotry, we should remember that Los Angeles—despite today’s widespread protests—is a city where such base behavior is both familiar and deeply rooted in our history.
One does not have to dig too deep to find incidents like the Chinese Massacre of 1871, which featured gleeful public lynching in the Pueblo, the shunting of non-whites into the early barrio of Sonoratown and the concerted effort of carpet-bagging Americans to erase the Spanish-Mexican roots of the Ciudad de La Reina de Los Angeles.
Early local papers contained anti-Irish and anti-Italian sentiments along with jokes and cartoons about Mexicans, Indians and blacks who were portrayed as shiftless and lazy, despite the fact they practically stuck together the infrastructure of the growing city with their sweat.