Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What Started the Riots?

While working on the map for Zoot Suit I had moment or realization about the landscape of Los Angeles. I typed Sleepy Lagoon into the search bar and expected the map to shift to a small area of forest or some kind of quarry with a swimming area in it. The last thing I expected to see was a few factories and an express way.

After reasoning to myself that this must have been an error that google maps made I searched the area and found a river but nothing that would resemble what was described in the play as “a reservoir. An old abandoned gravel pit.” (Pg 38) I was astounded at how drastically the area must have changed since the occurrence. Part of that stems from being from Chicago, where the landscape hasn’t changed much since Mrs. O’Leary’s cow knocked over a lantern and burnt down the city. However, it did make me wonder what about the changes in L.A.’s physical landscape makes and remakes its mythology.

I thought the Zoot Suit riots took place because of crimes like those at Sleepy Lagoon coupled with media sensationalism. However, while making the map I began to wonder how much the city's landscape itself started the riots. The one question that I felt connected these riots and landscape of the city was wondering whether the people who participated in the Zoot Suit riots incite the riots to change the landscape of the city, or does the changing landscape of the city itself help incite riots the Zoot Suit riots?

-Jose Acevedo

1 comment:

L.A. Stories said...


A site which collect some information about Sleepy Lagoon (including, briefly, what's there now) here:

And then this site from PBS about the Zoot Suit Riots, with some interesting images and other archival material: