Maps can be a very powerful tool for re-presenting history. Or erasing it. Other than the slightly ghosted street grid surrounding the prospective baseball diamond and its circular moat of parking, there is not even a hint here of how the bounded “CITY-OWNED AREA” came to be city owned.
The story of Chavez Ravine’s controversial urban renewal is not unique to Los Angeles, nor is it entirely unique within Los Angeles. And like most examples of displacing urban redevelopment, it’s not a simple story either, with its mix of public and private winners and losers. Not only did the Dodgers eventually get a new West Coast home—and for cheap—but Los Angeles got one of its great architectural icons, beloved by generations of Angelenos, and local taxpayers seem to have gotten a decent deal, too, especially when compared to more recent efforts of cities luring professional sports franchises with shiny new stadiums. But if we want to acknowledge the full story, including the viewpoints of the dispossessed, we need to see through the present-day landscape. We need to remember that drawing the maps of the future entails erasing, at least in part, the maps of the past.
A map of Dodger Stadium soon after it was first proposed for Chavez Ravine in 1957. Part of the Los Angeles Examiner Collection in the USC Digital Library.