Downtown Orange County: Manufactured Multiculturalism in Santa Ana

Authors: Michelle Cadwell*, Port of Long Beach
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: Collective Memory, Space, Place, Consumer Culture
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom D, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The bright white water town overlooking Santa Ana boasts promises of, “Downtown Orange County.” Driving on the 5 FRWY North, commuters are greeted by Santa Ana, as the county seat location to all Orange County departments. Exiting two of the three main downtown Santa Ana exits, drivers are greeted historical lamp lights and manicured green belts as you pass Floral Park. Within a 10-block span, drivers are visually treated with gritty downtown, filled with graffiti and boarded-up windows, and manicured buildings spaces that home the Orange County School of the Arts buildings. These checkered landscapes become a narrative for manufactured multiculturalism in Santa Ana. Santa Ana elite-classed historical preservation choices presently continue. With 560 historical registered properties and two historical districts, the Anglo-American minority resident controlled groups continue to regulate historical viability within Santa Ana. Through adaptive reuse and urban renewal, Downtown branding is creating a unique sense of manufactured place. Instead of cultivating Latino heritage, businesses and artists become an import strategy. This research exemplifies the larger civic service goal of “urban frontiersmen” that embrace pioneer-centered heritage, thus creatively edging out other cultural influences of Santa Ana’s community landscape. Santa Ana’s corporate multiculturalism, changes collective memory, shared authority and displaces the city’s pure cultural iconography. Examining Santa Ana’s late nineteenth-century Chinatown and present Latino heritage considers how Orange County Elite shift geographic boundaries of non-Anglo groups with the historical use of Geographic Information System technology. Thisresearch discusses cultural reconciliation opportunities through mobile applications to explore Santa Ana’s cultural history

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