History of the Mexican Americans in Los Angeles

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
La Plaza, as seen from the Pico House, c.1869. The "Old Plaza Church" is to the left, the brick reservoir on the right, in the center of the plaza, was the original terminus of the Zanja Madre.

Mexican Americans have lived in Los Angeles since the original Pobladores, the 44 original settlers and 4 soldiers who founded the city in 1781. People of Mexican descent make up 31.9% of Los Angeles residents, and 32% of Los Angeles County residents.


Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles Asistencia was founded in early 1784 within the burgeoning Pueblo de Los Ángeles as an asistencia (or "sub-mission") to the nearby Mission San Gabriel Arcángel.[1] The assistant mission fell into disuse over time and a Catholic chapel, La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Ángeles, was constructed in its place a mere thirty years later.

The city has witnessed a development of a Hispanic (mainly Mexican) cultural presence since its settlement as a city in 1769. Mexican-Americans have been one of the largest ethnic groups in Los Angeles since the 1910 census,[citation needed] as Mexican immigrants and US-born Mexicans from the Southwest states came to the booming industrial economy of the LA area between 1915 and 1960. This migration peaked in the 1920s and again in the World War II era (1941–45).

The city's original barrios were located in the eastern half of the city and the unincorporated community of East Los Angeles. The trend of Hispanization began in 1970, then accelerated in the 1980s and 1990s with immigration from Mexico and Central America (especially El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala). These immigrants settled in the city's eastern and southern neighborhoods. By 2000, South Los Angeles was a majority Latino area, displacing most previous African-American and Asian-American residents. The city is often said to have the largest Mexican population outside Mexico and has the largest Spanish-speaking population outside Latin America or Spain. As of 2007, estimates of the number of residents originally from the Mexican state of Oaxaca ranged from 50,000 to 250,000.[2]


Census Bureau map of Los Angeles County showing percentage of population self-identified as Mexican in ancestry or national origin by census tracts. Heaviest concentrations are in East Los Angeles, Echo Park/Silver Lake, South Los Angeles, and San Pedro/Harbor City/Wilmington.

As of 2010, about 2.5 million residents of the Greater Los Angeles area are of Mexican American origin/heritage.[3]

As of 1996 Mexican-Americans make up about 80% of the Latino population in the Los Angeles area.[4] As of 1996 the Los Angeles region had around 3,736,000 people of Mexican origins.[5]

There's a shift of second and third generation Mexican-Americans out of Los Angeles into nearby suburbs, such as Ventura County, Orange County, San Diego and the Inland Empire, California region. Mexican and other Hispanic immigrants moved in East and South sections of L.A. and sometimes, Asian immigrants moved into historic barrios to become mostly Asian-American areas. Starting in the late 1980s, Downey has become a renowned Latino majority community in Southern California, and the majority of residents moved in were middle or upper-middle class, and second and third generation Mexican-Americans. [6] The Mexican population is increasing in the Antelope Valley such as Palmdale.[7]


Mexican Americans from Los Angeles have celebrated the Cinco de Mayo holiday since the 1860s. They, along with other Spanish-speaking peoples, celebrate the Day of the Three Wise Kings as a gift giving holiday.[8]

Another holiday that they celebrate would be Dia de Los Muetros (the day of the dead), which typically lasts 3 days.

Zoot suits were a staple of Mexican-American attire in the 1940s and represented rebelling against the injustices of society.[9]

Los Angeles was an epicenter of the Chicano civil rights movement during the 1960s, along with the Chicano art movement that ensued.

In the 1990s the quebradita dancing style was popular among Mexican-Americans in Greater Los Angeles.[10]

The El Centro Cultural de Mexico is located in Santa Ana.

Plaza Mexico is located in Lynwood. [11]

Two films, Tortilla Soup and Real Women Have Curves, portrays Mexican-American families in the Los Angeles area.

Another great film that portrays the life of a Mexican-American in Los Angeles is Stand and Deliver, which demonstrates the life of Mexican-American high school students and how they get through their academic struggles, with the help of their teacher, Jaime Escalente (Edward James Olmos).

Notable Mexican Americans from Los Angeles[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Acuña, Rodolfo (1996). Anything But Mexican: Chicanos in Contemporary Los Angeles. Verso Books. ISBN 1859840310.
  • Alarcon, Rafael; Escala, Luis; Odgers, Olga, eds. (2016). Making Los Angeles Home: The Integration of Mexican Immigrants in the United States. U of California Pres. ethnographic and statistical perspectives in a study of Mexican immigrants' strategies for economic, political, social, and cultural integration
  • Balderrama, Francisco E.; Santillan, Richard A., eds. (2011). Mexican American Baseball in Los Angeles. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9780738581804.
  • Lewthwaite, Stephanie (2009). Race, Place, and Reform in Mexican Los Angeles: A Transnational Perspective, 1890-1940. University of Arizona Press. ISBN 9780816526338.
  • Monroy, Douglas (1999). Rebirth: Mexican Los Angeles from the Great Migration to the Great Depression. U of California Press. ISBN 9780520920774.
  • Lopez, Eduardo F. (2016). "Catholic Education for Mexican Americans in Los Angeles: A Brief Historical Overview" (PDF). Journal of Catholic Education. 19 (2). doi:10.15365/joce.1902082016.
  • McConnell, Eileen Díaz (2015). "Hurdles or walls? Nativity, citizenship, legal status and Latino homeownership in Los Angeles". Social Science Research. 53: 19–33. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2015.04.009. PMID 26188435.
  • McConnell, Eileen Díaz (2015). "Restricted Movement: Nativity, Citizenship, Legal Status, and the Residential Crowding of Latinos in Los Angeles." Social Problems". 62 (1): 141–162. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  • Melero Malpica, Daniel (2008). Indigenous Mexican Migrants in the City of Los Angeles: Social Networks and Social Capital Among Zapotec Workers (PhD). UCLA. ISBN 9780549484936.
  • Rendón, Maria G. (2015). "The urban question and identity formation: The case of second-generation Mexican males in Los Angeles". Ethnicities. 15 (2): 165–189. doi:10.1177/1468796814557652.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The San Bernardino Asistencias by R. Bruce Harley". California Mission Studies Association. Archived from the original on June 13, 2006. Retrieved November 21, 2006.
  2. ^ "Sounds in Oaxacalifornia: Gala Porras-Kim Investigates Indigenous Tones, 18th Street Arts Center". Artbound – KCET – Los Angeles. 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
  3. ^ Moreno Areyan, Alex (2010). Mexican Americans in Los Angeles. Arcadia Publishing. p. 7. ISBN 9780738580067.
  4. ^ Lopez, David E.; Popkin, Eric; Telles, Edward (1996). "Central Americans: At the Bottom: Struggling to Get Ahead" (Chapter 10)". In Waldinger, Roger; Bozorgmehr, Mehdi (eds.). Ethnic Los Angeles. Russell Sage Foundation. p. 280. ISBN 9780871549013.
  5. ^ Central Americans: At the Bottom: Struggling to Get Ahead, p. 281.
  6. ^ Carcamo, Cindy (2015-08-05). "Latinos' rising fortunes are epitomized in Downey". latimes.com.
  7. ^ Stringfellow, Kim (December 12, 2017). "The Shifting Demographics of Antelope Valley — And Development's Consequences". KCET.
  8. ^ Kim, Ann L. (2000-01-06). "Armenians Won't Rush Christmas". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-07-02. Meantime, children in Mexico and many Latin American countries today celebrate El Dia De Los Tres Reyes Magos, or the Day of the Three Wise Kings. Families distribute gifts to commemorate the day that the three wise men brought gifts to the newborn Christ child. Christmas Eve is usually reserved for the religious celebration of the birth of Christ
  9. ^ Escobedo, Elizabeth Rachel (2013). From Coveralls to Zoot Suits : The Lives of Mexican American Women on the World War II Home Front. The University of North Carolina. p. 70. ISBN 978-1-4696-2209-5.
  10. ^ Simonett, Helena (2001-01-30). "2". The Quebradita Dance Craze. Banda: Mexican Musical Life Across Borders. Wesleyan University Press. p. 52. ISBN 9780819564306..
  11. ^ "plaza mexico".

External links[edit]