Comparison of Neighborhoods in South Phoenix
By: Shiva Delpazir

I visited an older neighborhood that was around 7th Avenue and Baseline. The first thing I noticed is a lot of yards are full of old cars, trashcans, old antique items, among other things. They all have hand made wood fences or beaten up chain link fences that stood about 4’ high. The residential area looked as if it had been custom built and appeared to be a lower class neighborhood. Although there were many children playing outside that day, the safety of the neighborhood is very questionable. I did not notice any types of surveillance devices or personnel around, and I questioned weather or not this neighborhood was very safe. Most of the inhabitants I saw in the neighborhood looked as if they are of Hispanic origin. Although this area looks as if it is very old and run down, it was alive with children and people walking around, even on a Friday afternoon.
            In an article by Dolores Hayden, The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History, about gentrifications and it’s effect on older cities being rebuilt. She points out the fact that gentrification is beginning to take over older neighborhoods in highly populated areas and while new homes and businesses are being built, landmarks and older buildings are being destroyed. She explains that although the neighborhood might begin to look newer or cleaner, all sense of culture and comfort to the current residents of the older neighborhoods is going to be lost, such as in New York and LA. Much like the Los Angeles neighborhoods that Hayden describes, the newer neighborhoods in South Phoenix seem to have little or no identity. The houses in these new subdivisions all look the same; they all have the same color, same structure, and they are all kept in top shape. Most of these new subdivisions are also controlled by homeowners associations, and these homeowners associations control the neighborhood so much that the neighborhood loses any sense of identity or culture that people bring to it.
             The harsh fact that most developers refuse to face is that most of the Hispanic residents of South Phoenix have brought their Mexican culture with them, or in the case of the Chiconos that have been here for many generations, the Mexican culture influence preceded the newcomers by a long shot. To an American who has no familiarity with the Hispanic culture, the neighborhood’s appearance could be a little bit startling to white Anglo middle and upper class individuals because of their ethnocentric views on other cultures that are not American. To a Latino, the other neighborhood’s appearance could in fact be normal and comfortable and the newer neighborhoods being built in South Phoenix could serve as a threat to the existing neighborhoods. It is true that the area is developing in South Phoenix and there are a lot of changes being made. But one must question whether or not the culture within the neighborhoods will be preserved once these new developers take over, and what rich cultural heritage may be lost in the process.


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