Flashback Fridays: Chavez Ravine (Part 1)

Photo of Chavez Ravine by Don Normark.

Ever heard of Chavez Ravine? A lot of people haven’t (even those who live right next to it) as it doesn’t really exist anymore. It was the neighborhood that the city of L.A. bulldozed in order to build Dodger’s Stadium. But that’s a whole other ball of wax, and a piece of history that will definitely be addressed in my next post. But I figured (what with baseball season beginning this week) it would be timely to write a Chavez Ravine-related post.

Julian Chavez was the man after which Chavez Ravine was named and the original “owner” of the land on which Dodger’s Stadium now sits. Chavez came to California from New Mexico in the 1830s. At the time, California was part of Mexico and was transitioning from being dominated by Spanish-owned missions to being divided into ranchos. During this period, one had only to petition the ayuntamiento (city council) and ask for a piece of land. In this way, Chavez acquired the 83 acres of land near downtown in 1844 that became known as Chavez Canyon.

His land was used by the county as the site of a pest farm/isolation hospital (I can only imagine that this would be a place that they sent people to die) during the 1850s and 1880s when there were local smallpox outbreaks. It was primarily used to house Chinese and Mexicans who suffered from the disease. A smallpox hospice was on the site of Dodger’s Stadium. Isn’t this interesting?!?!

In 1846, California passed from Mexican to American hands. Six years later, in 1852, Chavez was elected to the first L.A. County Board of Supervisors. He continued to serve the city in various roles until his death in 1879.

Stay tuned for next week’s installment of Flashback Fridays: Chavez Ravine!

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