Documentary Week on Ask Chris: Chavez Ravine: a Los Angeles Story


This week on the Ask Chris blog, we’re going to highlight some of our favorite documentary films about Los Angeles.  So many of the people who knew the stories of Chavez Ravine are gone. If you were born when the first evictions took place on the land that is now Dodger Stadium, you would be collecting Social Security today. Director Jordan Mechner finished his short film Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story in 2004 while many of the key witnesses were still around to give testimony.

The black-and-white photos of sheriff’s deputies forcibly evicting the Arechiga family from their home have become part of the clip reel of Los Angeles history, but the actual story of how 350 acres near Elysian Park acquired for low-income housing became a baseball stadium is much more complex (and heartbreaking) than a simple real estate transaction.

The sad saga includes architect Richard Neutra, the House Un-American Activities Committee, and the tragic tale of an idealistic city employee trying to improve living conditions for the poor and ending up behind bars. Generations have held the Dodgers responsible for the loss of this neighborhood. The truth is much more complicated.