Synopses & Reviews
When the interstate highway program connected Americaandrsquo;s cities, it also divided them, cutting through and destroying countless communities. Affluent and predominantly white residents fought back in a much heralded andldquo;freeway revolt,andrdquo; saving such historic neighborhoods as Greenwich Village and New Orleansandrsquo;s French Quarter. This book tells of the other revolt, a movement of creative opposition, commemoration, and preservation staged on behalf of the mostly minority urban neighborhoods that lacked the political and economic power to resist the onslaught of highway construction.
Within the context of the larger historical forces of the 1960s and 1970s, Eric Avila maps the creative strategies devised by urban communities to document and protest the damage that highways wrought. The works of Chicanas and other women of colorandmdash;from the commemorative poetry of Patricia Preciado Martin and Lorna Dee Cervantes to the fiction of Helena Maria Viramontes to the underpass murals of Judy Bacaandmdash;expose highway construction as not only a racist but also a sexist enterprise. In colorful paintings, East Los Angeles artists such as David Botello, Carlos Almaraz, and Frank Romero satirize, criticize, and aestheticize the structure of the freeway. Local artists paint murals on the concrete piers of a highway interchange in San Diegoandrsquo;s Chicano Park. The Rondo Days Festival in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the Black Archives, History, and Research Foundation in the Overtown neighborhood of Miami preserve and celebrate the memories of historic African American communities lost to the freeway.
Bringing such efforts to the fore in the story of the freeway revolt, The Folklore of the Freeway moves beyond a simplistic narrative of victimization. Losers, perhaps, in their fight against the freeway, the diverse communities at the center of the book nonetheless generate powerful cultural forces that shape our understanding of the urban landscape and influence the shifting priorities of contemporary urban policy.
and#160;andquot;Eric Avila's in-depth research and his sheer passionate commitment to the subject should make this one of the rare books that succeeds in replacing a widely-accepted narrative.andquot; andmdash;Robert Fishman, University of Michigan
andquot;A must-read cultural history of the 'invisible freeway revolts' through which city people of color have demanded social justice in the midst of aggressive urban reforms. Avila provides timely lessons for scholars and urban planners, pointing us to pay closer attention to the aesthetic and expressive forms of these protests, so necssary to achieve spatial justice in American cities.andquot; andmdash;Arlene Davila, New York University
About the Author
Eric Avila is associate professor of history, Chicano studies, and urban planning at UCLA. He is the author of Popular Culture in the Age of White Flight: Fear and Fantasy in Suburban Los Angeles.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Invisible Freeway Revolt
1. The Masterandrsquo;s Plan: The Rise and Fall of the Modernist City
2. andldquo;Nobody But a Bunch of Mothersandrdquo;: Fighting the Highwaymen During Feminismandrsquo;s Second Wave
3. Communities Lost and Found: The Politics of Historical Memory
4. A Matter of Perspective: The Racial Politics of Seeing the Freeway
5. Taking Back the Freeway: Strategies of Adaptation and Improvisation
Conclusion: Identity Politics in Post-Interstate America