A handy, 'Lucky 13' check-list for Dodger fans to test their knowledge of what happened in Chavez Ravine so that Dodger Stadium could be built.
We all know that all of us Dodger fans love our team — right? And no one can blame us for that — also right? But there are a few things we should probably stop and take a moment to consider, not about our Dodgers, but about what took place on the land on which Dodger Stadium is built. So it's not such a bad thing to take the opportunity to understand some history — right?
First, though, let's stipulate that when we say "Chavez Ravine" here, we're talking about the communities of la Loma, Palo Verde, and Bishop that were home to thousands of people who were uprooted and evicted from their homes. Much of their land is now occupied by Dodger Stadium and its parking lots.
1. More than 1,100 families were evicted from their homes in la Loma, Palo Verde, and Bishop.
It's true. There were about 415 families in la Loma, 575 in Palo Verde, and 110 in Bishop who were evicted from their homes, many of them forcibly.
2. A majority of the people who were evicted were of Hispanic origin, and most of the adults were born in México.
Evidence from census records between 1900 and 1940 proves that the families that were evicted were about 73% Hispanic, and that most of the adults were from México.
3. In order to justify taking the land, the City had to characterize the entire Chavez Ravine area — the three communities of la Loma, Palo Verde, and Bishop — as a 'slum' area.
This blatant racism made it easier for the City to justify their condemning the Chavez Ravine communities and taking the land — by force is necessary.
4. Two elementary schools were destroyed.
One was Palo Verde Elementary School and the other was Paducah Elementary School. The Palo Verde school was simply buried under tons of earth to build the pad for additional parking for Dodger Stadium.
5. El Santo Niño, a Catholic church that had existed since early in the 20th Century, was destroyed.
The church of el Santo Niño was located in what is now the Dodger Stadium parking lot beyond center field. It was founded early in the 20th-Century; the earliest reference is a photograph taken in 1925.
6. A convent of Catholic nuns, the Sisters of the Society of Mary, fell victim to the evictions.
The convent of the Sisters of the Society of Mary was located in a beautiful Victorian house at the intersection of Effie Street and Paducah Street in Palo Verde.
7. Chavez Ravine had its own stores.
There were several stores in Chavez Ravine. Families did not have to go to downtown Los Angeles for much of their shopping.
8. Many residents of Chavez Ravine had gardens and raised their own food to help feed their families.
Most of the homes in Chavez Ravine had small gardens. They grew a variety of things, including corn, beans, tomatoes, and chiles in order to help feed their families.
9. In addition to their gardens, other residents of Chavez Ravine raised animals, too.
Among the animals raised by residents of Chavez Ravine were chickens, turkeys, goats, cows, and horses.
10. Many residents believed they were not given a fair price for their homes.
Although the eviction notice of 1950 promised that residents were to receive a fair appraisal for their homes, the prices they were offered often did not match what the residents believed was fair, even if they were willing to leave and not be forcibly evicted.
11. The last evictions took place in 1959, just days before construction began on Dodger Stadium.
One of the most heavily-documented evictions was that of the Aréchiga family in Palo Verde. The Aréchigas fought the eviction for nearly nine years before they were dragged out of their home by armed Sheriff's deputies. But they were not the only residents of Chavez Ravine who were displaced. Some of the survivors call themselves los Desterrados and they have a reunion each Summer in Chavez Ravine.
The following images have no captions; the images speak for themselves.
12. How much of the land that was forcibly taken from more than 1,100 largely Hispanic families was actually used to build Dodger Stadlum?
Was it really necessary to wipe the homes of 1,100 families off the face of Chavez Ravine to build Dodger Stadium? Look at the outlines of the communities. Isn't it possible that all of la Loma (the yellow outline on the right) and Palo Verde (the blue outline) could have been saved? Just who were these powerful people trying to get rid of, and why? Did it have to do with the color of their skin?
Lucky 13. Finally, let's be clear: Dodger Stadium is not in Chavez Ravine.
Dodger Stadium sits between Sulphur and Cemetery Ravines. There is an actual Chavez Ravine, but it is to the west of the stadium. Stadium Way today follows the original trail up Chavez Ravine to Frogtown.
So, Dodger fans: by all means, enjoy Dodger baseball, and we wish the Dodgers all the best this season; but please, be aware that, when you are in the stadium, you are on sacred ground — it is the ground on which thousands of people once lived, worked, and played.
An afterword. Chavez Ravine in media
Gratefully, Chavez Ravine has not been completely forgotten. In addition to los Desterrados and others, these are some of the ways the heartbreaking story of the Chavez Ravine evictions has been portrayed in print (photographs and text), on the stage, in in music.
About the Author
Bouett is a retired research scientist and registered professional
engineer who now conducts historical and genealogical research
full-time. A ninth-generation Californian, he is particularly interested in the displacement of the nearly 1,100 families that lived in the Chavez Ravine communities of la Loma, Palo Verde, and Bishop to make way, ultimately, for the construction of Dodger Stadium. His ancestors arrived in California with Portolá in 1769 and came to Los Angeles with the founders on September 4, 1781.