Spatial Conflicts and Urban Renewal in a Southwest City
On March 1, 1966, the voters of Tucson approved the Pueblo CenterRedevelopment Project – Arizona’s first major urban renewalproject – which targeted the most densely populated eighty acresin the state. For close to one hundred years, tucsonenses had createdtheir own spatial reality in the historical, predominantly MexicanAmerican heart of the city, an area most called “la calle.”Here, amid small retail and service shops, restaurants, andentertainment venues, they openly lived and celebrated their culture.To make way for the Pueblo Center’s new buildings, city officialsproceeded to displace la calle’s residents and to demolish theirethnically diverse neighborhoods, which, contends Lydia Otero,challenged the spatial and cultural assumptions of postwar modernity,suburbia, and urban planning.
Otero examines conflicting claims to urban space, place, and historyas advanced by two opposing historic preservationist groups: the LaPlacita Committee and the Tucson Heritage Foundation. She gives voiceto those who lived in, experienced, or remembered this contested area,and analyzes the historical narratives promoted by Anglo Americanelites in the service of tourism and cultural dominance.La Calle explores the forces behind the mass displacement: anunrelenting desire for order, a local economy increasingly dependent ontourism, and the pivotal power of federal housing policies. Tounderstand how urban renewal resulted in the spatial reconfiguration ofdowntown Tucson, Otero draws on scholarship from a wide range ofdisciplines: Chicana/o, ethnic, and cultural studies; urban history,sociology, and anthropology; city planning; and cultural and feministgeography.
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