Maps: A Quick Look at the Changing Demographics of L.A., 1940 to the Present

Departures is KCET's oral history and interactive documentary project that thoroughly explores neighborhoods through the people that live there. In January, SoCal Focus is taking readers through the Richland Farms series one day at a time.

For a picture of demographics in Compton and its agriculture neighborhood Richland Farms, we look to the demographic maps of Los Angeles County (when viewing the above slideshow, be sure toggle "captions" on in the lower right-hand corner):

1940s: African-Americans mainly live just south of downtown Los Angeles and in the Watts area.
1950s: Following a 1948 court decision to strike down racially restrictive covenants, the two African-American population centers grow, along with new growth west of downtown and in the Pasadena area. Richland Farms also sees some African-American growth.
1960s: By 1960, the African-American community significantly dominates the South L.A. region and city proper, predominately west of Alameda Street. The Latino population east of downtown also sees growth. After the Watts Riots in 1965 (and during the Civil Rights Movement), more African-Americans move east of Alameda, including Compton and Richland Farms.
1970s: The inner-city begins to deteriorate during this decade. In Richland Farms, a younger generation of African-Americans begin to feel the term "rural" or "country" as a slur and some sell their land through the 1980s.
1980s: By 1980, the African-American community has seen more growth, but the Latino population greatly increases.
1990s: The Latino population surpasses all other ethic majorities in the city and some African-American neighborhoods become multi-ethnic urban enclaves. Latinos see Richland Farms as a home where they can live more sustainably.
2000: African-Americans push west in small parts of South L.A. as the Latino and Asian populations grow throughout the county.
2005: For a look of demographics between 2005 and 2009, check out the New York Times' recently published "Mapping America" project, which is based on the Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

For a look at the history of Compton's land since the 1770s, check out an earlier timeline and slideshow: A Brief Timeline of Richland Farms in Compton.

The Departures Richland Farms series is broken down into two parts as interactive murals: The Past and The Present. The above information is based on The Past's eighth mural hotspot.

About the Author

Zach Behrens is KCETLink's Editor-in-Chief of Blogs, where he oversees website editorial and advises on projects. When he does write, he mostly covers local government, environment, and the outdoors.
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