Plaza Olvera

À PROPOS DE CE PROJET

On the 26 observations made, 15 of them include actors from different background. Almost all of them engaged people from different background, mainly White and Latinos. This is not surprising. The largest part of the users are Regulars (Latinos) or Tourists (White). The fact that the Plaza represent a historical and cultural site based on a (imaginary) Mexican past, attracts a great number of Latinos.

 

The Regulars are certainly the group which is mostly present there. Since they include a large part of aged (or retired) Latinos, it is not surprising that interactions involving individuals from different age group include people from 60 years old and more. Their presence at the Plaza is marked by flânerie and oisivity, which is a different rythm than the Tourists and the Marginals, always moving around. Furthermore, the Tourists evolve in groups, quite often supervised by a guide and under a tight schedule. The pattenrs of use of the Regulars and the Tourists are so different, it is unlikely that they interact together. Half of the interactions occurs between man and woman. On a regular week day, they can be noticed amongst the tourists (White) or with their lovers (Latinas). The fact that they come accompanied limits the opportunities for interaction. But this may also reflect the latina culture omnipresent on this site, for which public life is the matter of man.

 

Due to the strong presence of Regulars and their own rythms, encouraged activities and behaviors are quiet and discreet, such as people watching, reading, eating a snack, napping, discussing in small groups. Activities that are discouraged by other users, through a disapprobing look or a turned back, are quite the opposite : sleeping of a bench, screaming, running, coming in big numbers (except for school visits and tourists, because they are well supervised).

 

The Plaza Olvera represent this old Los Angeles, this plaza in the style of Old Mexico, a bit festive, a bit farniente. The Regulars are Latino men, discussing under the big Moreton Bay Fig tree, and contribute to give this space a particular southern colour. Rythms and non-verbal exchanges safeguard this atmosphere. Although totally constructed in the 1930s, the representational role of the Plaza for the Angelinos and the tourists is efficient, appreciated, and reproduced daily. There are few attempts to change this atmosphere. Contestation are punctuals, rare and quickly controlled by the Regulars.

 

Overall, the Plaza is a place very quiet, and not much generates mistrust. Incivilities are rare, so are inappropriated behaviors and violent interactions, despite the lack of formal control by guards or police officers. The atmosphere of the Plaza, its users, their rythms and movements imply the behavior to be adopted.

ABOUT THIS PROJECT

The Plaza Olvera represents this old Los Angeles. It is a plaza in the Old Mexico style, a bit festive, a bit farniente. Retired or soon-to-be retired Latino men compose the biggest group that frequents the plaza on a daily basis. Their presence at the Plaza is marked by flânerie and lounging around under the big Moreton Bay Fig trees, and lends this space a particular southern hue.

 

Due to their strong presence and their own rhythms, the Latino men encourage quiet and discrete activities and behaviour, such as people watching, reading, eating a snack, napping, discussing in small groups. This atmosphere was entirely created in the 1930s, and has been reproduced daily since then, thanks to the presence of those Latino men and to the many events organized on the site.

 

This is specifically what attracts many tourists, who have a very different rhythm and behaviour, quickly crossing the Plaza or coming in large groups. This is tolerated by the regular users, because they are supervised and under a tight schedule. The patterns of use of the regulars and the tourists are so different that it is unlikely that they will interact together. Generally speaking, screaming, running and coming in big numbers are discouraged, through a disapproving look or a turned back. But expressions of disapproval are brief, rare and quickly controlled by the regulars.

 

Overall, the Plaza is a very quiet place, and does not generate much mistrust. Incivilities are rare, and so are inappropriate behaviours and violent interactions, despite the lack of formal control by guards or police officers.