Why can’t we create our own Olvera Street in Santa Ana?

Olvera Street

Could an Olvera Street type attraction work in Santa Ana?

Why doesn’t Santa Ana promote Latino culture the way Los Angeles does with their very successful Olvera Street?

In 1810, year of the commencement of the war of Mexican Independence (1810–1821), Jose Antonio Yorba, a sergeant of the Spanish army, was granted land that he called Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana. Yorba’s rancho included the lands where the cities of Olive, Orange, Irvine,Yorba Linda, Villa Park, Santa Ana, Tustin, Costa Mesa and unincorporated El Modena, and Santa Ana Heights, are today. This rancho was the only land grant in Orange County granted under Spanish Rule. (Wikipedia).

Latinos have been here for generations.  But our city leaders act like anything Latino is radioactive.  Can we do something similar in Santa Ana despite our failed city leaders?

Olvera Street Picture

“Olvera Street is the birthplace of the City of Los Angeles, otherwise known as El Pueblo Historic Monument. The colorful village features 27 historic buildings with a traditional Mexican style plaza area. Wander around the marketplace and shop for souvenirs including handcrafted Mexican wares typical of old Mexico,” according to the Olvera Street website.

The real shame is that we COULD have gone with an Olvera Street type concept years ago, likely to huge success, but Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido went the gentrification route instead with the Artists Village.  I don’t think anyone can argue that the Artists Village has been a huge success, as it hasn’t.

But Olvera Street has been quite a success indeed.  Here is how Wikipedia sums it up:

In the midst of Downtown industrialization, Olvera Street is a quaint, colorized, and non-confrontational environment. Olvera Street is successful in depicting the quaintness of Mexican culture. The Avila Adobe aside, however, the buildings on the street date from at least a hundred years after the founding of the city in 1781, and have little if any authentic association with the city’s founding, or with its former status as a Spanish, then Mexican outpost. Olvera is really a named alley, unusual in Los Angeles, rather than a true street. This can be seen from the fact that most of the buildings originally had their main entrances and addresses on the adjacent and parallel Main and Los Angeles Streets. In addition, the frontages along Olvera Street are uneven, as is typical with alleys.

As a tourist attraction, Olvera Street is a living museum paying homage to a romantic vision of old Mexico. The exterior facades of the brick buildings enclosing Olvera Street and on the small vendor stands lining its center are colorful piñatas, hanging puppets in white peasant garb, Mexican pottery, serapes, mounted bull horns, oversized sombreros, and a life-size stuffed donkey. Perhaps the single most widespread image of this version of old Mexico is the painting or ceramic statue of the Mexican campesino reclining against a giant saguaro cactus. Olvera Street attracts almost two million visitors per year.

Santa Ana could do this even better by including cultures from throughout Central and South America.

Consider the huge crowds that show up to the Orange Street Fair every year.  Imagine what we could do in our downtown area with Latino-flavored restaurants, vendors, and entertainment including mariachi music, boxing and lucha libre?  It would be awesome!

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.