My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working-Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920-1965
In the 1920s, thousands of white migrants settled in the Los Angeles suburb of South Gate. Six miles from downtown and adjacent to Watts, South Gate and its neighboring communities served as L.A.'s Detroit, an industrial belt for mass production of cars, tires, steel, and other durable goods. Blue-collar workers built the suburb literally from the ground up, using sweat equity rather than cash to construct their own homes.
As Becky M. Nicolaides shows in My Blue Heaven, this ethic of self-reliance and homeownership formed the core of South Gate's identity. With post-World War II economic prosperity, the community's emphasis shifted from building homes to protecting them as residents tried to maintain their standard of living against outside threats—including the growing civil rights movement—through grassroots conservative politics based on an ideal of white homeowner rights. As the citizens of South Gate struggled to defend their segregated American Dream of suburban community, they fanned the flames of racial inequality that erupted in the 1965 Watts riots.
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African Americans American Angeles Angeles’s became Bell Gardens beneﬁts blue-collar blue-collar workers Booster California Eagle Census Chicago churches civic civil rights Club Collins conﬂict culture December deﬁned Democratic Directory of South district early economic factories federal ﬁgures ﬁnally ﬁnd Firestone ﬁrst ﬁve Gate City Council Gate City Directory Gate’s groups Home Gardens Press homeowners homeownership housing Huntington Park industrial inﬂuence interview by author January John Sheehy July June June 19 June 20 labor Latino leaders living March Mattoon Act merchants neighborhood neighbors November ofﬁce percent plant political postwar race racial reﬂected Sanborn Map segregation September September 15 social South Gate City South Gate Press South Gate residents South Gate Tribune Southern California suburb suburban suburbia tion U.S. Bureau union United University Press Urban Wakeﬁeld Watts white-collar women workers working-class working-class suburbs
Page 4 - Since the city is the product of growth rather than of instantaneous creation, it is to be expected that the influences which it exerts upon the modes of life should not be able to wipe out completely the previously dominant modes of human association.