Skip to main content

Lacking for Leisure: Spatial Constraints in Non-White Communities in Los Angeles

Published onMar 19, 2024
Lacking for Leisure: Spatial Constraints in Non-White Communities in Los Angeles
·
history

You're viewing an older Release (#2) of this Pub.

  • This Release (#2) was created on Mar 22, 2024 ()
  • The latest Release (#4) was created on May 15, 2024 ().

This essay focuses on the historical forces that created functionally different gaming spaces and their placement in white and non-white communities in Los Angeles County, exposing and reinforcing the inherent problems with community investment.1 While I focus on structural changes in racially segregated communities and the dearth of normative game and recreative spaces in black and minoritized communities, Sean Smith’s work highlights how and why those spaces were imagined as principally white and associated with a safe environment. In combination, we look to demonstrate that both policy and social constructs helped to create functionally different types of gaming spaces in white suburbia that also looked to police and control those from outside the community. Our work explores not only the segregated history of Los Angeles, but the interplay of race and leisure over the 20th century.

The principal ideas were inspired by a variety of digital works, including Abigail Norris’ “Mapping Memphis” that examined the spatial connections of a black owned mortuary and the surrounding community in Memphis, Tennessee. Similar digital history projects map communities that are under-represented and help visualize economic and social connections and how historical spaces are often problematized by conscious and unconscious bias and racism. 2 I am primarily concerned with varied game and leisure spaces such as arcades, access to those game spaces, and their creation, lack of creation, or differential creation in relation to historical economic and structural racism throughout Los Angeles. In order to situate why and where gaming spaces were placed, this essay principally maps factory closures in relation to census data to situate the economic difference between communities and the extent that the changing economic structure of older neighbourhoods affected investment in leisure spaces, in this case gamed spaces with arcade cabinets, within those communities.

To help understand the reach and relevance of gaming spaces within communities, gamed spaces were categorized into four distinct types to visualize the qualitatively different types of spaces, the number of games they held, their associated attractions, and their proximity to a variety of communities (See Figure 1). Employing the term “gamed spaces” and a very specific definition of arcade has allowed us to differentiate a variety of spaces and their placement throughout Los Angeles County that highlights the intentionality of the location of different gamed spaces, whether or not they were nominally known as arcades or merely housed a few games. Primary game spaces or arcade spaces were distinctly that, arcades. Their primary and often singular attraction were the arcade games themselves. Secondary game spaces or gamed spaces would most often qualify as an arcade by most metrics, but the arcades were secondary, or at least parallel, to the main attraction. These sites contained larger arcades and were nominally family entertainment centres such as Chuck E. Cheese, Mini-Golf centres, or Go-Cart facilities. Tertiary game spaces or “spaces with games” may or may not have qualified locally as an arcade but housed games within larger businesses, such as bowling alleys, skating rinks, pizza parlours, or batting cages. These spaces often had fewer games and not only was the primary attraction something other than video games, but most activities were spent with the advertised attraction such as bowling or skating. The final space, quaternary, often what route operators referred to as “street,” were housed in liquor or convenience stores, laundromats, and restaurants, among other locales.

These gamed spaces, we argue, functioned as leisure spaces regardless of their location or type. Yet, the type and setting of the gamed spaces were consistently related to matters of class and ethnic distinctions. For example, larger arcades or their associated family entertainment centres such as Malibu Grand Prix, were located outside of racialized communities, leaving fewer and smaller locations for those outside of white suburbia.

Figure 1: Mapping showing location of arcades and gaming venues layered over the 1980 census data with density of black population in dark blue. Large Green: primary spaces; Medium Gold: secondary spaces; Small Pink: tertiary spaces; Quaternary Spaces: not included on map. Map created by author using 1980 Census Data layered with gamed spaces (Black, 1980.)

Mapping the existence and placement of these spaces provides insight into how gamed spaces propagated historical segregated social norms within Los Angeles County and the broader nation. When layered with census data and factory closures, the relationship between older, minoritized neighbourhoods are clearly highlighted. At the same time, the relationship between changing economic resources and jobs further reveals the way that investment of all kinds were moving away from the city core, leaving these areas with a dearth of opportunities for a variety of leisure activities, from ballparks and swimming pools, to the new gaming spaces that were emerging or being reinvented. In this way, gamed spaces offer another avenue to dissect the racialization of space and leisure, particularly for younger people. These spaces could have served as potential outlets where fewer outdoor and recreative spaces were available, but people in these economically distressed areas had fewer options or found it necessary to travel further into presumed safe neighbourhoods to engage with the popular space of the arcade.

As arcades of various sizes and types grew in popularity through the 1970s and 1980s, they were placed outside minoritized neighbourhoods, or at best on their periphery. Access to these spaces by black and other non-white youth required travelling into whiter neighbourhoods that regulated who and in what ways people could engage with these new leisure spaces. The perception that non-white youth were more dangerous than presumed typical white “delinquents” heightened fears of those who participated in the gaming spaces, leading to the policing of the newest recreative leisure spaces—arcades. Taken together, the picture of minoritized neighbourhoods and people were increasingly viewed as threatening and can be placed within a historical context of racial separation and late 20th century economic realignment. In this way, gaming spaces reflected broader social constructs that embodied white normative notions of safe spaces, while also highlighting the disparity of a variety of leisure spaces available to different ethnic and economic social classes. A recent study of green spaces in Los Angeles County noted the disparity in access to “urban green spaces,” and its relation to community health (Connolly et al). While the paper focuses on what I term recreational spaces (outdoor parks, beach, etc.), I would argue that gaming spaces, as with other associated leisure spaces, function as spaces that provide community connection, interaction, and social benefits. Like other leisure spaces in minoritized neighbourhoods in Los Angeles County, gaming spaces were fewer, smaller, and circumscribed access to many games. Yet, even in these environments, people within those communities created their own spaces with the available resources.

Spatial Disparity

Investment in recreative space had always prioritized white communities over non-white communities in Los Angeles and was facilitated by the segregated nature of the County. Neighbourhoods abutted one another that were inherently separate and separated through work, leisure, and opportunity. The divide was most stark along Alameda Avenue, “which in 1965 had become one of the most pronounced racial divides in any American City” (Soja 5). On one side were the black communities that lacked industrial and recreational development. On the other side sat “one of the largest pools of high-wage, unionized, blue collar jobs in the country” (Soja 5). The Kerner Commission, created after the 1965 Watts Insurrection, described Los Angeles as “’two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal’” (Avila 5). As Josh Sides notes in L.A. City Limits, the rigid segregation that existed in the Southland and specifically in Los Angeles was a result of many factors including restrictive covenants, redlining, economic racism, and a political structure that limited the ability of non-whites to move beyond or within certain spaces. According to the U.S. Census, by 1970 “low-income area residents constituted 20 percent of the city’s population” and African Americans made up 55 percent of that population (United States Census Bureau ii). Additionally, “30% of the residents of the low-income area were below poverty level as compared with only 9 percent of those living elsewhere in the city” (United States Census Bureau ii). Eric Avila notes that in 1970 there were fifty-eight cities in Los Angeles with “populations less than 1 percent black, containing 33 percent of the regional population” (45). The low-income neighbourhoods, which were primarily non-white, overlap almost directly with the census maps of 1980 that show a preponderance of African Americans living in the city and county core (“Black, 1980”). The core represents a highly separated racial space that lacked access to recreative spaces and additional land to build recreational spaces. Over time, this topography of place, rooted in “racialized fantasies,” idealized suburban space as homogeneously white with the corresponding “safeness” that implied it to white sensibilities (Avila).

The spatial disparity that existed between the newer, whiter neighbourhoods and older ethnically mixed neighbourhoods can be highlighted in the availability of open and investment ready property. The more urban and segregated spaces, left economically behind in a wave of white flight to new suburban neighbourhoods after World War II that reflected racial and economic fears, were fundamentally different spaces. As the city moved to the suburbs so did the recreative institutions including “ballparks, amusement parks, and other cultural institutions” (Avila 6). The newer and whiter suburbs included new local or regional parks, such as El Dorado Park in East Long Beach completed in 1968, a nearly 400-acre park created near a new suburban development. There was also the creation of Recreation Park in El Segundo in 1958 built to serve the growing population in the area that could access the new jobs from the aerospace industry. The trend was for investment into recreative spaces in new or growing suburbs that were predominantly white at the expense of older more minoritized neighbourhoods. As Lawrence Culver states, “The funding—or more accurately the lack of funding—for recreational spaces and amenities in nonwhite areas of the city and county functioned as a pernicious form of fiscal discrimination” that created stark racial differences for youth access to recreative and leisure spaces (Culver 76). The changing economic realities within many of the segregated communities—outward movement of wealth, lack of investment, and industrial collapse especially in the 1960s and 1970s—further isolated communities of colour from traditional leisure spaces such as parks and in new leisure spaces such as arcades or family entertainments centres that were developed in outlying suburbs, continuing a sense of social and racial distance.

Racial Segregation / Racial Tension / Racial Profiling

Underlying issues of race and class, and power and privilege, separated communities of colour from recreational and leisure spaces, thus associating socially constructed appropriate leisure with whiteness and safety. The history of Los Angeles not only prioritized open and recreative spaces in white neighbourhoods, but its peculiar history also prioritized large, open spaces outside of the downtown area. Large recreative spaces such as Griffith Park, Beaches, or the Angeles National Forest, all situated on the periphery of Los Angeles, were ways for the city to efficiently provide access to the outdoors, a model predicated on Los Angeles’ growth from a small town in the late 19th century that melded with new ideas about preserving land and a rising middle class that could afford the luxury and time to travel (Culver 61–63). Over the years, restrictive housing policies hemmed in a growing black population, and neighbourhoods such as Watts were often left bereft of recreational spaces. (Culver 76). Leisure and recreation for a growing white suburbia through the 1950s and 1970s then were bywords for safe spaces. Black communities did create their own versions of these leisure spaces, such as the resort community of Val Verde begun in the 1920s and known as the black ‘Palm Springs, yet their growth was often circumscribed or excised as in the case with Bruce’s Beach. Bruce’s Beach was a popular coastal retreat for the black community as Jim Crow policies prevented them from going to other public beaches. In 1924, the city of Manhattan Beach used their local power of eminent domain to take the land from the Bruce’s and fully prevent black people from enjoying the leisure of the beach. The association with these recreative spaces demonstrates how “leisure came to be so explicitly—and so problematically—linked with whiteness” (Culver 53) and would play a role in how new leisure spaces such as arcades would be perceived, regulated, and policed.

The extended recreative / leisure spaces were presumptively for all but were white spaces due to racialized attitudes, policies, and the distance from non-white communities. Those ethnic minorities that travelled to these spaces were thus seen as outsiders, a common theme when a group (ethnic or otherwise) travels outside their presumed neighbourhood. A 1961 race “riot” (as it was dubbed in the Los Angeles Times) in Griffith Park, a large, hilly natural space surrounded by urban / suburban Los Angeles, exemplifies the tension over recreative space that had often restricted access and was situated outside of older, segregated neighbourhoods. The occurrence took place during the Memorial Day weekend near the merry-go-round when a 17-year old African American teenager was accused of boarding the ride without paying. The situation quickly escalated with 75 police called in to “quell” the tension. Several of those involved could be heard stating out loud that “This is not Alabama” (“75 Policemen”). This was a reference to the highly racialized and Jim Crow policies of Alabama and their then governor, George Wallace, who was an avowed segregationist and racist by any metric. The racially charged altercation was also described, without a bit of irony, by Los Angeles Police Chief William H. Parker (1950-1966) as a “racial situation” that was “‘stimulated in part by the actions of southern ‘Freedom Riders’’” (“2 More Suspects Jailed”). While Griffith Park was not a specifically segregated space, the events of that day demonstrate the racial tension over leisure spaces and who belonged and who was considered a danger to the perceived safety of the park. These contested and policed spaces were primarily outside and typically recreative, but they demonstrate the types of spaces and connection to recreation that was by and large explicitly segregated or associated with and protected by the white majority in Los Angeles.

While Los Angeles Police Chief Parker denied any discriminatory activity by the department, tension in the changing communities and their relationship with the police department, an extension of the white power structure in the city, faltered and exemplified the declining economic and educational circumstances of these neighbourhoods (“Parker” 13–16). Simply put, Parker and future LAPD Chief Edward Davis (1969–1978), saw the problem as one of crime. Parker stated at a meeting with the Federal Commission on Civil Rights that “Negroes commit 11 times as many crimes as Caucasians,” directly implying that it wasn’t the police department but the community themselves that were at fault (“Parker” B2). A sign of the department’s extremism included posting material from the John Birch Society, an ultra-far-right conspiracy laden group begun in 1958, on their bulletin boards (Soja 6). When individuals such as future Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley complained about the postings, he was summarily dismissed as overreacting. Racialized fear mongering combined with unfair housing policies and attitudes, as seen with the initial passage of Prop 14 in 1964 that would have nullified fair housing policies, highway development through mostly minoritized neighbourhoods, and changing economic and work opportunities worsened the overall structural issues in South Central and the surrounding areas. The Watts Insurrection of 1965 exposed many of the endemic issues and a few years later in 1973 the Los Angeles Times would describe Compton as a “ghetto of poverty, crime, gang violence, unemployment and blight,” thus confirming to white Angelenos their belief that black and minoritized people had created a culture of poverty and crime in their own neighbourhood (Sides, “Straight into Compton” 596).

Institutional Challenges

These segregated spaces were also affected by a decaying infrastructure and economy brought on, in part, by deindustrialization in the post-World War II era when jobs and shopping cores were moving to the new suburbia. Many of the neighbourhoods that surrounded the red-lined areas of Watts, Willowbrook, and South Central had originally been working class white communities. Cities such as South Gate, Huntington Park, Inglewood, and Compton saw significant change in their ethnic make-up after several important USSC decisions in the late 1940s and 1950s that reversed the legality of housing covenants that restricted groups such as Blacks, Japanese, and Latinos from buying and renting in white neighbourhoods (See Figure 2). Still, these neighbourhoods would remain largely segregated even as fear was stoked by community members and the Los Angeles Times—“For years, the story has circulated that certain Negro organizations are dedicated to “block-busting,” forcing the sale of homes in white neighbourhoods to Negro buyers with the goal of infiltrating the area” (“L.A. Negroes” 2). Such attitudes suggested the blame for integration was on the growing black community and that the “infiltration” would lead to bad outcomes for white residents. By 1970, the population of Compton, for example, had become predominantly black as white families, and their businesses, moved to the outlying suburbs where new schools, shopping centres, and jobs were increasingly located. These demographic changes created a shift in community resources and unwillingness for banks to provide investments. As Josh Sides writes, “undoubtedly, the most salient feature of the economy in the 1970s was corporate disinvestment in the large-scale production capacity of the nation.” (Sides, L.A. City Limits 180). Part of this disinvestment had to do with how the central city and its immediate communities were viewed and had changed from 1950–1970. Mike Davis points out that “after 1965[…] the handful of large retailers in Southcentral Los Angeles took flight while viable small businesses were asphyxiated by discriminatory bank ‘redlining’ practices” (242). Consequently, black and other non-white community members were often forced to travel outside their neighbourhoods to access services that had left—food, medicine, leisure. This form of disinvestment coupled with banks’ and local political institutions’ reticence to invest in these areas created a stagnant economic and environment, unfriendly to business. The Los Angeles Times reported in 1975 that in the prior fiscal year 109 businesses quit Lynwood, and that the“Recreation and Parks Commission has had a 100% turnover,” while the “seven-man Planning Commission has lost four members” (Barber). The white flight from these communities in the 1970s and 1980s harmed how the neighbourhoods were viewed and limited the extent to which banks and other lending institutions perceived them as viable investments.

Figure 2: Advertisement for new suburban development in Torrance CA depicting a literal transcription of white homes next to “Fine Schools!” (Source: Palos Verdes Peninsula News, June 9, 1966, 23).

Not only were the various neighbourhoods within central Los Angeles segregated and becoming more so, but they were also the communities most heavily impacted by job loss. As Figure 3 demonstrates most factories were situated in areas of the city / county adjacent to or populated by minoritized communities. Buoyed by the access to reasonable jobs and industry in the area in the immediate post World War II era, even if those jobs were suffused with rampant racism, they had allowed minoritized communities in these areas to gain access to housing and climb the economic ladder. As industry and jobs left the area, and with little to no ability to move to where many newer forms of employment had emerged (read: the new suburbia), these communities of colour were disproportionately affected by factory closures and mass lay-offs. The factories and businesses ranged in size from large producers such as Ford Motors (1,700–2,000 employees) to smaller establishments like Past Brewing (300 employees). Something lost in the data is that the job loss began years before the final closure of these businesses. For example, when Chrysler shut down operations in 1971 the official job loss total was between 1,100 and 1,300 employees. However, only six years prior in 1965 Chrysler had employed over 2,100 individuals. Similarly, when the GM plant, which closed permanently in 1982, had “appeared on the edge of extinction” since 1973 “as it went through five re-tooling programs” that shed workers each time (Harris E1). By 1979, however, the plant was letting go of employees in cycles before its final shuttering. Within a four-year period, from 1978 to 1982, approximately seventy thousand jobs were lost within this segregated economic zone (Sides, L.A. City Limits 181). Additionally, these industries fed other local industries and job creation, heightening the impact of job loss throughout the community. Chrysler itself was associated with at least 75 other Los Angeles companies, and the repercussions of its closure, like other factories, was devastating. As Josh Sides notes “the proportion of black male workforce working as operatives in manufacturing firms began to fall in the 1960s[…] with more than a third of its population employed in manufacturing industries, Compton was probably affected more than any other black area” (Sides, “Straight into Compton” 593). And while Compton may have been disproportionately affected, as a case study it demonstrates how the loss of jobs combined with disinvestment and a lack of white interest and political concern, marked these communities as at the edge of usefulness for white Angelenos. Cities such as South Gate had an unemployment rate of 15% by 1983, and “total welfare payments more than doubled between 1964–1969 while AFCD trebled” (Chazanov; Soja et al. 11). In sum, these spaces were separated from economic growth and opportunities, which furthered their social distance. As such, gaming spaces in these neighbourhoods would be local, smaller, and subject to the creativity of those who could create spaces for the youth in the area.

Figure 3: Map showing some of the major and mid-size factory closures and layoffs from the early 1970s to early 1980s: Chrysler (Commerce, 1971); B.F. Goodrich (Commerce, 1975; Uniroyal (Commerce, 1978); U.S. Steel (commerce, 1979); Norris Industries (South Gate, 1979); Ford motors (Pico Rivera, 1980); Firestone (South Gate, 1980); Goodyear (South Central, 1980); Bethlehem Steel (Vernon, 1982); General Motors (South Gate, 1982). Map created by author using Social Explorer 1970 Census Data layered with factory site closures (“Black, 1970”; “Black, 1980”.

The closing of a variety of factories and industries also instituted an odd conjunction with spatial omission. Factory and industry closure often meant that these spaces was left neglected and unused. When Chrysler closed it left 86 acres unoccupied; when American Standard in Torrance shut down, it left 48 acres with empty buildings that would be shuttered for years. This was also true when Uniroyal Tires closed its City of Commerce factory in 1978. Located immediately adjacent to the recently constructed 5 freeway, the facility wouldn’t be repurposed as the Citadel Outlet mall until 1990, leaving the factory space unused for 12 years. The empty space was a literal hole in the community. These shuttered factories left behind harsh visual representations of loss and omission. Retooling and remaking these factory landscapes took time and money, yet the lack of investment within those regions was limited and took years, if at all, to complete the transformation. While newer suburban communities had open space to develop new recreative parks to meet the sensibilities of the new suburbs and white family ideal, older and racially mixed neighbourhoods found empty factories and businesses. Each community had space, but only one served the interests of its community.

The continued outward migration of whites from working class neighbourhoods to outlying areas also increased school segregation, further distinguishing the non-white communities as outsiders and others. The number of segregated schools increased substantially throughout the 1960s and 1970s as calls for busing stalled and white families resisted attempts to integrate their new neighbourhoods. In a piece published in 1968, the Los Angeles Times noted that “Twenty-one schools became segregated in the Los Angeles district during 1967[…] and as a result 91% of the district’s Negro students go to segregated Negro schools and 55% of the Mexican-American students attend schools with a majority of Mexican-American students” (“Segregation Rises” OC A1). School districts re-formed or new districts were created to siphon off white students or to increase the white student population. Examples of this include the creation of the La Cañada Unified School District in the early 1960s and the movement of “of predominately white Noyes, Burbank, and San Rafael Elementary Schools from the Muir attendance area,” which had a large proportion of Black students. The principal of Muir High School resigned in 1968 citing the loss of “students with high scholastic ability due to the shifting of attendance areas,” read as a loss of white students, and “outsiders” agitating against “‘prejudices against Negroes in the school’” (Lee). A case nearer to central Los Angeles occurred in Inglewood in the late 1960s. An attempt to bridge the divide and integrate a white school east of Prairie Ave. and a school west of the street that was 17% black met resistance by two school board members “who do not believe racial imbalance is a real problem” (McCance). One school board member, Ted F. Merrill, stated that “‘the problems at the moment are discipline and venereal disease. I will fight any bussing system,’” and that some ministers were “‘squawking about integration’” (McCance). The argument over busing and integration in Los Angeles highlights the separation within the city and it shows how the idea of busing students to other neighbourhoods was seen as a dramatic change that would negatively impact white communities. This rhymes with how various spaces were policed and situated as more appropriately white, with white being a code word for what was deemed safe and appropriate.

Freeways further served as a geographic boundary and were a potent symbol of Los Angeles’ segregationist stance. The freeway system in Los Angeles was the icing on the segregationist’s cake, adding to the city what years of racist policies, Covenants, Codes, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) and concerned homeowners could never fully accomplish. In 1944, Federal-Aid Highway Act allocated funds for 1,938 miles of freeways in California. In Southern California planners used the opportunity, with full federal support, to obliterate as much as possible the casual mingling of the races and to divide activist ethnic communities into even smaller pockets of the city denuding their voice and their ability to organize. The system also favored expensive personal transportation over public transportation, isolating communities of colour from suburban spaces of leisure and work.

Local officials rerouted the elaborate designs of freeway engineers— often at considerable city expense— to destroy thousands of homes in racially diverse communities. As Gilbert Estrada suggests in “If You Build It, They Will Move,” mixed-race Boyle Heights was gutted by freeways (the 5, 10, 101, and 60 freeways would eventually bisect the neighbourhood). In the process, the 21-acre Hollenbeck Park was razed, and four lanes of freeway replaced the only outdoor recreation space for thousands of Boyle Heights residents. In addition to the park’s loss, over 60 homes and even more small businesses that serviced these communities were destroyed to give white suburbanites better access to suburban malls. When Los Angeles’ communities of colour tried to protest the destruction of their neighbourhoods they were ignored or shut down by the courts. Conversely, suburban or wealthy residents like those in Beverly Hills, San Marino/South Pasadena were often successful in their attempts to halt construction or reroute the freeway to poorer, communities of colour. By the late 1970s and early1980s (the highpoint of the video game arcade), the freeway system in Los Angeles was nearly complete and so too was the segregation of the city. Ironically, because of the pushback from wealthy white residents who would not stand for the freeway in their neighbourhoods, only 61% of the system was built, leading to the unwieldy traffic patterns that plague the city today. This system, at least for ethnic minorities and African Americans, restricted rather than facilitated their movement and further segregated the city, isolating communities of colour from spaces of leisure, arcades, shopping, and entertainment all of which had moved to the suburban periphery as a result of white flight and deindustrialization.

Conclusion

The diversity of Los Angeles County is complicated by its large population and geographic size, encompassing over 4,000 square miles and 88 cities. The size of the county and the maze of neighbourhoods rooted in segregated policies highlight stark differences in access to recreative and leisure spaces. As gaming and arcades grew through the 1970s, the larger and more obvious arcade spaces emerged in middle-class idealized suburban spaces. The reasons for these developments appear as opposite sides of the coin. On one side, there was available land for malls, mini-golfing, and larger entertainment centres. On the other side, investment dollars flowed to these new developments at the expense of older, minoritized neighbourhoods. Coupled with these investment “realities” was the cultural proposition that the new suburbs were a safe refuge from the increasingly impoverished core of the city. There were few to no new leisure spaces, gamed or otherwise, created or developed in minoritized neighbourhoods. As a result, gamed spaces were more varied or deeply buried in non-normative and segregated neighbourhoods. Defining and discovering these “hidden” gamed spaces will reveal a lot about how various communities created their own leisure environments, and identifying these atypical spaces is essential in mapping and understanding the association between race and recreational play spaces. As Gregory Hise has written, “social space affects social relations; zoning regulations confer both monetary and symbolic value on land; the social and spatial are intertwined” (549). This topography of place intersected with a topography of race that helped configure the make-up and differentiation between the inner-city and the growing suburban hubris of Southern California (Hise 550).

The census and mapping data clearly shows a concentration of minoritized people into spaces that were older, under-funded, and often lacked basic recreative infrastructure. People in these neighbourhoods found themselves on the outside and distanced from the venues that proliferated near the newer and white suburbs. Their choices were to play in the small spaces within their neighbourhoods (e.g. liquor stores, laundromats) or prepare to be policed within the larger, more game-centric spaces that were already perceived as problematic spaces that invited juvenile delinquency. Legal and extra-legal practices helped shape the corresponding reality that marked older neighbourhoods with older facilities (and housing), little excess land, and marginal outside investment. New arcades in newer developments, often housed in mini-golf, family entertainment centres, or multi-entertainment complexes, afforded themselves to a more benign sensibility. The lack of investment and available space meant that older, more segregated communities often found their arcade games in smaller venues. The reality of differentiated game spaces speaks to the historically racialized topography of Los Angeles County that shaped where and how people lived, worked, and played. The larger project will map a variety of gaming and leisure spaces, factory and business closures, vacant lots, and school segregation overlaid with census data to show the effect of both policy and social decisions that created functionally different types of gaming and leisure spaces in minoritized communities. In this way, the full effect of racialized policies will be situated in a broad historical context that tells the story of how the development of differentiated gamed spaces affected minoritized communities in Los Angeles County.

Works Cited

“2 More Suspects Jailed in Riot at Griffith Park.” Los Angeles Times, June 1, 1961, pg. B1.

“75 Policemen Quell Riot in Griffith Park.” Los Angeles Times, May 31, 1961, pg. 1.

“2,000 Workers Out, Close Chrysler Plant.” July 16, 1970. Pg. 28

Avila, Eric. Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2006.

Barber, Mary. “White Exodus Beginning to Take Toll on Lynwood Civic Leaders.” Los Angeles Times. September 7, 1975. Pg. SE1.

“Black, 1970.” Map. Social Explorer. Social Explorer, n.d. Sep 2023, based on data from U.S. Census Bureau, tabulated by DUALabs.

“Black, 1980.” Map. Social Explorer. Social Explorer, n.d. Sep 2023, based on data from U.S. Census Bureau.

Chazanov, Mathis. “South Gate Struggles to Get $250-Million Delphi Project Launched.” Los Angeles Times. September 1, 1983. Pg. SE1.

Connolly, Rachel, et al. “The association of Green Space, Tree Canopy and Parks with Life Expectancy in Neighborhoods of Los Angeles.” Environmental International. Volume 173, 2023. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2023.107785.

Culver, Lawrence. The Frontier of Leisure: Southern California and the Shaping of Modern America. New York: Oxford University Press. 2010.

Davis, Mike. City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles. New York: Vintage. 1992.

Estrada, Gilbert. “If You Build It, They Will Move: The Los Angeles Freeway System and the Displacement of Mexican East Los Angeles, 1944–1972.” Southern California Quarterly, vol. 87, no. 3, Oct. 2005, pp. 287–315. https://doi.org/10.2307/41172272.

“Fine Homes! Fine Schools!” Palos Verdes Peninsula News, June 9, 1966, 23.

Harris, Scott. “South Gate Plant Shut Down by GM: 2,550 Employees Are Laid Off Indefinitely – Forever, Some Fear.” Los Angeles Times. March 24, 1982. Pg. E1.

Hise, Gregory. “Border City: Race and Social Distance in Los Angeles.” American Quarterly. September, 2004, pp. 545–558.

“L.A. Negroes Only Part of Over-All Minority Problem: Concentration of Race Here is Fifth Largest in United States.” Los Angeles Times. January 24, 1961. Pg. 2.

Lee, Austin. “Muir Principal Quits, Blames Deterioration: Venable Deplores ‘Adult Pressure Groups, Lack of Funds, Student Loss, Race Problems.’” Los Angeles Times. June 13, 1968. Pg. SG1.

McCance, William J. “State Raps Inglewood on School Segregation: Changes Suggested to Improve Balance of Races in District.” Los Angeles Times. June 30, 1968. Pg. CS2.

Norris, Abigail. Mapping Memphis. https://mapping-memphis.com/. Accessed 23 March 2023.

“Parker Angrily Denies Racial Discrimination: Presents Charts of City Districts, Tells of Undesirables Shipped Into Los Angeles.” Los Angeles Times. January 27, 1960. Pg. B2

“Segregation Rises in L.A. Schools, ACLU Charges.” Los Angeles Times. May 7, 1968. Pg. OC_A1.

Sides, Josh. L.A. City Limits: African American Los Angeles from the Great Depression to the Present. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2006.

Sides, Josh. “Straight into Compton: American Dreams, Urban Nightmares, and the Metamorphosis of a Black Suburb.” American Quarterly, September 2004, pp. 583–605.

Soja, Ed. “Los Angeles 1965-1992: The Six Geographies of Urban Restructuring.” Center for Social Theory and Comparative History, Annual Colloquium Series: The City. 1994.

Soja, Ed, et al. “Urban Restructuring: An Analysis of Social and Spatial Change in Los Angeles.” Economic Geography. April, 1983, Vol.59, No. 2. Pp. 195–230.

“The Closing of the Chrysler Plant.” Los Angeles Times. May 27, 1971. Pg. D14.

United States Census Bureau. 1970 Census of Population: Supplementary Report, Low-Income Neighborhoods in Large Cities. Issued May, 1974.

Comments
0
comment
No comments here
Why not start the discussion?