When I Think of Home: Images from L.A. Archives

The Community and Cultural Enclaves of L.A.

Los Angeles County is home to 10 million people and hundreds of cities, communities, and neighborhoods. Los Angeles is also known as one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the United States, which is reflected in its many cultural enclaves and communities.

The earliest of Los Angeles enclaves include Chinatown, Frenchtown, Greek Town, Little Italy, Little Tokyo, and Sonoratown. Only Chinatown and Little Tokyo exist today. The second wave of ethnic enclaves in Los Angeles began following the 1968 enactment of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. It ended an immigration-admissions policy based on race and ethnicity, and gave rise to large-scale immigration, both legal and unauthorized. The enclaves are products of both historical racial discrimination and self-segregation driven by mutual, ethnically specific interests. Ethnic enclaves provide protection from hostile elements in society, aid in the retention of cultural norms (including language), and offer immigrants economic opportunities such as employment and business ownership. 

One of the communities featured in the exhibit include the city of Watts and its famous Watts Towers. The artist Simon Rodia titled the structural art piece, “Nuestro Pueblo,” meaning “Our Town.” Los Angeles has myriad communities including LGBTQ, activist groups, campus communities, and women’s groups. These diverse communities and cultural enclaves that make up Los Angeles have a long history striving for acceptance, equality, and empowerment. Explore the items on display to catch a glimpse of the significant events and communities of Los Angeles.


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