Immigrant neighborhoods of the early twentieth century have commonly been viewed as segregated, homogeneous slums isolated from the larger "American" city. But as Mark Wild demonstrates in this new study of Los Angeles, such districts often nurtured dynamic, diverse environments where residents interacted with individuals of other races and cultures. In fact, as his engaging account makes clear, between 1900 and 1940 such multiethnic areas mushroomed in Los Angeles.
Street Meeting, enriched with oral histories, reminiscences, newspaper reports, and other sources, examines interactions among working-class Mexicans, Chinese, Japanese, Jews, Italians, African Americans, and others, reminding us that Los Angeles has been a multiethnic city since its birth. This study further argues that these ethnic interactions played a crucial role in the urban development of the United States during the early decades of the twentieth century.
Mark Wild is Assistant Professor of History at California State University, Los Angeles.