We have photo galleries featuring the community of Watts in other sections of our website. This morning we needed to update some shots as the community is going through a transition. It is home to three massive housing projects (Imperial Courts, Nickerson & Jordan Downs). They were built during World War II and offered housing for many military families who were White. It was thought of as a wholesome community. After the war and as Blacks fled the south seeking new opportunities and jobs. The defense industry were booming in Southern California and many landed in Watts and other communities in South Los Angeles. As typical of housing patterns, integration was the result of the migration so once Whites departed, they were replaced by Blacks and other minorities. Consequently those areas took on a negative connotation and defined by some as less desirable. The result was investment in the projects and the community came to a screeching halt and blight became an everyday reality the occupants had to deal with.
The projects are being removed in phases. They are being replaced by townhome style residences. Additionally a new shopping center called Freedom Plaza recently opened. Call it gentrification, relocation or whatever but the newness is created for a certain clientele, certainly not those who were residents before the development.
Freedom Plaza speaks to a larger social dynamic. Interestingly some new businesses have taken leases to show their commitment to diversity. I guess? One of those is OneWest Bank. More on this in a future post.
In addition to the newly created Freedom Plaza the photos below include some historic sites:
- Watts Coffee House/Mafundi Institute
- Mudhouse Farms
- Watts Towers complex (restored towers)
- Hawkins Famous Burgers