Framework

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May 8, 1959: Aurora Vargas is carried by Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies after her family refused to leave their house in Chavez Ravine. The photo was taken by Los Angeles Mirror-News photographer Hugh Arnott.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Hugh Arnott / Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

Apr. 14, 1959: Residents of Chavez Ravine, with houses on the site of the Dodgers' ballpark, crowd between dwellings on Malvina Ave. waiting for the next move in on an eviction battle.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: John Malmin / Los Angeles Times

May 8, 1959: A bulldozer razes the Arechigas family home in Chavez Ravine immediately after family members, who had refused to leave, were forcibly removed.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times Archive/UCLA

May 8, 1959: Los Angeles City Councilman Edward Roybal, center, talks with members of the Arechiga family, who continued to camp out on the site of their home after it was razed.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: George Fry, Jr. / Los Angeles Times

May 10, 1959: Members of the Arechigas family look for personal belongings in the rubble that was their home in Chavez Ravine.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Steve Fontanini / Los Angeles Times

May 11, 1959: Victoria Angustian, of the evicted Arechiga family, sits at a City Council hearing with her daughters Ida, 7, left, and Ivy, 5, as well as her father, Manuel Arechiga. Angustian told the City Council that her family only wanted to be treated fairly.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: John Malmin / Los Angeles Times

May 13, 1959: After bulldozers destroyed their Chavez Ravine home, Victoria Angustian stands in the doorway of her family's trailer. With her are Manuel Angustian; children Ivy (sweeping) and Ira; and family matriarch Avrana Arechiga.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: John Malmin / Los Angeles Times

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Chavez Ravine evictions

May 8, 1959: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies carry Mrs. Aurora Vargas from a house during the eviction of residents in Chavez Ravine.

Most residents of Chavez Ravine had been relocated in the early 1950s, but a proposed public housing project was scrapped. The City of Los Angeles obtained the property, then traded the land to the Los Angeles Dodgers for the old Wrigley Field property in South Los Angeles.

In 1959, with construction of Dodger Stadium slated to begin, negotiations with holdout Chavez Ravine residents failed, leading to evictions.

Under a headline “Chavez Ravine Family Evicted; Melee Erupts,” the Los Angeles Times reported on May 9, 1959:

There was a melee in Chavez Ravine yesterday as forcible eviction of a few residents there began.

The action erupted only seconds after an army of sheriff’s deputies, accompanied by three large moving vans, arrived at the Arechiga family’s residences at 1767 and 1771 Malvina St.

The deputies. led by Capt. Joe Brady, were armed with a writ of possession recently issued against the Arechigas by the Superior Court.

According to City Atty. Roger Arnebergh, the Arechigas have been occupying the property rent-free since 1953 following its acquisition by condemnation by the City Housing Authority in 1951.

The city purchased the property in 1955. It is intended to be part of a recreational facility that will include a baseball park for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

It has been a long skirmish.

And yesterday the battle was joined in earnest.

It including a screaming, kicking woman (Mrs. Aurora Vargas, 38, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Manual Arechiga) being carried from the house…children of the family wailing hysterically as their sobbing mother, Mrs. Victoria Angustian, 29, struggled fiercely in the grasp of deputies…the 72-year-old matriach of the family, Mrs. Avrana Arechiga, hurling stones at deputies as movers hustled away her belongings…an obstreperous former neighbor, Mrs. Glen Walters, screeching defiance at the deputies and finally being forcibly ejected from the battleground, handcuffed, and taken to a squad car…..

Mrs. Vargas was the last to leave — making good her threat that “they’ll have to carry me.”

The fray lasted about two hours. After the eviction, bulldozers leveled structures on the property. Members of the Arechigas family returned and lived on the property to protest of the eviction and bulldozing.

The eviction was heavily covered by the media, both television and print.  Several Los Angeles Herald Examiner images are online at the USC Digital Library. Search under ‘Chavez Ravine evictions.’

Also check out this new photo gallery Remembering Chavez Ravine on former residents.

5 Comments

  1. April 4, 2012, 7:21 pm

    This was wrong then and it is still wrong. If they had been white and upper class they would not have been evicted

    By: ecofem13@yahoo.com
  2. April 5, 2012, 11:46 am

    Your article brings back memories, unbelievable …we were here. Our family witnessed evictions, sheriffs presence, newsmedia including Television Reporter on Channel Five…Clete Roberts.
    Today some of us have written prepared by university students doing research on subjects such as Social Issues, Housing, Human conflicts. It must be mentioned that the surrounding Solano Canyon came very close to the same experience Chavez Ravine residents went throught.
    marinela501@sbcglobal.net

    By: marinela501
  3. April 5, 2012, 3:57 pm

    Sounds like the property owners had been compensated for the land in the early 50's. And the remaining residents were renters. It was truly a major spectacle back then; my parents tried to explain it to us kids at the time. We all sided with the residents not understanding the full story. Those were indeed different times but I am not sure how different things would be today. It just appears that Chavez Ravine was the last of the shanty neighborhoods remaining within the borders of downtown Los Angeles. Something very similar happened a few decades earlier when the original Chinatown was bulldozed to build Union Station. Its poor residents were equally evicted in the name progress. It's good to interview those who lived through this.

    By: rafaelc@racen.com
  4. June 7, 2012, 1:24 am

    woah calm down , you prevent my comment showing just because I highlighted the fact that you missed a few obvious typos ??

  5. January 9, 2014, 2:02 am

    I agree. This is just sick and inhumane! The courts should have stopped this trash! I hate when governments do this. They act like the bullies they are! This shold have been stopped. Makes me so upset when I see things like this go on.

    By: loritg

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