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The Troubled Past of Dodger Stadium and Chavez Ravine

A brief look at the history behind one of LA's most beloved landmarks

Spring has come at last. The (woefully insufficient) rains have passed, love is in the air, and America's national pastime has returned. With the baseball season now underway, Dodger fans throughout Los Angeles eagerly await another 81 games at Chavez Ravine. Even without chewing tobacco, Dodger Stadium is easily one of the most iconic and best-loved cultural landmarks in the city. But it wasn't always so universally admired.

As a history of Chavez Ravine by KCET points out, the area was once home to a Mexican-American community composed of hundreds of families. In 1950, however, the city picked Chavez Ravine as the site of a new housing project known as Elysian Park Heights. In spite of protests from community members, the city used powers of eminent domain to buyout residents--with promises they would have the first shot at the new housing--until the ravine was nearly abandoned.

Ultimately, however, plans for the housing project were abandoned, and promises to devote land in the ravine to public use were broken. By 1957, only 20 families remained on the property. The following year, city voters approved a deal awarding the land to the Dodgers by a margin of only 25,000 votes.

In 1959, law enforcement officials forcibly evicted the community's last remaining residents, famously dragging one woman from her house as she protested its impending destruction.

Though the construction of Dodger Stadium was rife with contention, the video below (also from KCET) illustrates the long history of Chavez Ravine with colorful animation and an appreciation for how its use has shaped the city.

Dodger Stadium

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