Saturday, February 23, 2008

Déjà vu

Ever gone somewhere for the first time and had the feeling that you've been there before?
That's what happened to me Saturday as we walked among the colorful murals covering walls and supports under the San Diego-Coronado Bridge in Barrio Logan, San Diego's oldest Latino neighborhood.

I just as easily could have been under the elevated stretch of Interstate 10 along North Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans in the heart of the city's African-American community.
Barrio Logan and the neighborhoods lining North Claiborne Avenue share a similar history. They were both major communities for minority populations throughout the 20th century, and they both suffered devastating declines in more recent decades after highways were cut through their hearts.

Now, the underbellies of highways in both places serve as gathering spots for what's left of the communities, and the surrounding concrete provides a canvas for vibrant murals of their heroes, histories and civil rights battles. The red tack marks Barrio Logan in this Google Earth image of central San Diego.
This gathering of indigenous Mexicans in Chicano Park reminded me of the Mardi Gras Indians in New Orleans who meet under the I-10 overpass on Fat Tuesday. (Here's a video of the scene during Mardi Gras 2008.)

Look here and here to read more about these two communities.

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