RIP Santa Ana's Calle Cuatro (a.k.a. Fourth Street), 1916 (?)-2011

A couple of weeks ago, the carousel near the intersection of Fourth and Spurgeon streets in SanTana was unceremoniously dismantled. It had entertained thousands of kiddies over the years, but it didn't fit in with the plans of SanTana's Brave New Urbanists, who have salivated for decades at the thought of turning the area around it, the beating heart of Orange County's Latino cultural and shopping life for decades, into a hipster haven with no need for Mexican immigrants other than dishwashers and line cooks. 

The de-Mexification of Fourth Street continues.
fiestamarketplace.JPG
En mi viejo SanTana...
Sometime in the past couple of weeks, the plaza area in front of the historic Yost Theater was razed to begin landscaping improvements for the theater, which has big plans of its own, none involving the actual people who rescued the theater from oblivion. Gone is the gazebo. Gone are the benches where men have shot the breeze for decades, much to the consternation of those who said the preponderance of Mexican shops in the area constituted reverse discrimination. Their solution? Level those memories and look forward--and they're not racist because Latinos are part of the leveling, and pochos can patronize the new businesses that are coming! Like a coffee shop! And a sushi joint! And a barbershop where you can drink beer! Yeah!

Fourth Street as a Latino institution had a great run. As early as the 1910s, legal segregation forced Mexicans onto the stretch of Fourth Street to the east of Main; by the 1930s, that side was almost exclusively Mexican. As others lost faith in the viability of downtown SanTana, more Mexican entrepreneurs moved into the area, transforming it into an economic war chest for the city. It's those very businessmen and businesswomen who occupied the historic buildings when no other ethnicity would, saving one of Orange County's few true downtowns from the wrecking ball, and thus leaving it ripe for gentrification. The thanks they're getting for keeping the area alive? The boot.

The Great Recession has hurt many of the businesses on Fourth Street, but also key were those Brave New Urbanists, who complained loudly for years about the quinceañera shops, the mango ladies, the whole Mexican-ness of it all and are winning the all-important battles in convincing property owners and city fathers to see it their way and put forth a "renaissance" of the area. This district always annoyed a certain segment of SanTana, who have a twisted nostalgia about the place that puts the blame on Mexicans and none on those gabachos who had no faith in the city.

They are finally getting their way, while the rest of the most-Latino big city in the United States carries on, obvlivious.

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52 comments
714foo
714foo

its funny how all of u are bitching oh fourth street is changing and all that bull shit who gives a fuck if it changes or not cuz NO MATTER what its still gonna be mexican... cuz look at the neighborhoods surrounding fourth street u think white are gonna come to shop cuz its new?... NO! its still gonna be mexican culture cracking off no matter what so stop complaining......... start bitching if they do sum thing drastic like tear the neighborhoods down u know..

Gabacha
Gabacha

En mi viejo San Juan............ old song ! .En mi Viejo Santa Ana.................who's going to be the breave to write the NEW SONG ! and please make sure u write the true of 4TH STREET........... tHANKS Gustavo for your articles about Santa Ana, this has become the NEW DESCOLONIZACION OF THE 21 CENTURY.I hope thisnew generation that is aplauding the changes, will come here to shop and eat and support the merchants.

Jeannie
Jeannie

Happy to see!!!! I have been down to see Santa Ana, where I grew up. Had a teen shooting off a gun, that made me feel so sad for what Santa Ana is looking and feeling like now. As a little kid of about 8, I walked all over Santa Ana and felt safe! That was in 1958. Not now!! Happy to see so many great places still there! But the up keep was sad! Took a lot of pictures. Would love to see Santa Ana come back as the Great County Seat it is! With the Internet the city should get some interest going to go on the (Tours of Santa Ana). And things like this! Santa Ana Valley High School, Falcon, Class of 69!!!!

Thefool333
Thefool333

A gazeebo, benches, and a rusty "carousel" are gone. For the better part of a decade, I have passed this street at all hours. When it was dark, this is where prostitutes would hang out en masse. Looking around 4th St, which needs lots of work, this was an ideal candidate for renovation. What's the big problem with a face lift? Nothing of value was lost. Ad they are only trying to make it better.

Salvadorian003
Salvadorian003

kick all the gang bangers out starting with the lopers

Fifi
Fifi

I have a buss in Downtown Santa Ana, since 1981, remember...........the East side, the Blood Bank, the Busses , Bars, Hotels.... ? well the West -side, was improving with the help of Mayor Young and Grisset, long time ago.Now... we have this new Downtown Inc, association imposing another fee to your property tax. Any change is good, but be INCLUSIVE NO EXCLUSIVE....... IN the 1980, they included everyone it didn't matter ur nationality, Today is different, this Association is destroying the CALLE CUATRO, this is a historical street of Santa Ana., generetions of hispanic and anglo, has gone for years, supporting the Merchants and the comunity.I remember when a City Manager, after cleaning the East-side, said " NO MORE BARS IN SANTA ANA" What happen ? Lets be productive, lets help the CAlle CUATRO, to be what has been for the last 15 years, a FAMILY ORIENTED comunity.

Lurch14m
Lurch14m

Im a fifth generation Spanish descent and my family have lived in Santa ana since its founding days. At the beginning fourth street was built by white settlers from the east. And if they decide to take back what they had left from the past by all means let them! Fourth street is such a drag on Santa ana's reputation and appearance, and change is what Santa ana is in most need of. I strongly support this action, and hopefully Santa ana will be restored to its former glory it once was. I don't know how many old family's that lived in Santa ana have moved to other citys because of Santa ana's "mexicanation". I mean the sight is poor to see! Fat drunk Mexican men in tight jeans,half buttoned shirts, with a huge gallon hat; and women pushing a basket with a group of kids trailing behind! Time for change!

Sa Mexi
Sa Mexi

You are smart enough to know that we need to evolve as people and citizens of SA. Why are you downplaying the development of urbanization? The city needs it and the young professionals and Do-ers that develop in our city need urban places to spend, visit and live; cause now, they’re going somewhere else. I WOULD LIKE TO ASK A MEXICAN.I thought I saw your ask a Mexican column in the OCW. Quite honestly I was a little disappointed that you, a UCLA grad 2nd Gen Mexican would even considered making a living from this nonsense. Yeah, I’m sure you could hold your own on kitchen table conversations of history and immigration and you can obviously cause controversy (simply by the fact that I’m responding to this article shows that you could get a professional to stop what they are doing to comment on your latest RIP SanTana). Have you ever asked yourself, what good does column do? What real good does it do? It’s a real joke. I would bet that 90% of the people that read the OCW are white. What does this tell the white person; especially coming from an educated Latino, UCLA? C-mon, put your talents to use, you’re smart, talented, could talk well, but it’s a waist to see someone like you do this. You are college educated, from UCLA, that is awesome!!!! But this is what you decide to do with your life.

mexicans are too damn fat
mexicans are too damn fat

hahaha... face it you mexicans are too damn ugly... how many 300 pound hombres in tee shirts and holding a can of beer can this city take.. not to mention your fat women in spandex... ugg...

Gil
Gil

What's that - their going to build for the hip hipsters “Obera Street Landa” there sponsored by Taco Bell?

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

Gimme a break. The big bad white man is pushing out the brown brother. If that area is so foking important to Mexi-Santa Ana culture, then save it. Do something about it. Quit acting like the VICTIM.

Samantha
Samantha

WHAAAT!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?THIS SUCKS!

Let SanTana be what it is! White people will always flock to the hills, Fullerton , Orange and all those places. La Cuatro is for us!

Guey
Guey

Lame. What a shame. Fourth Street means so much to me and I'm sure to a whole bunch of other Santa Ana OG's. Culture is the fruit of life and I guess boutique restaurants and shops are, but they lack authenticity and flavor of what they're supposedly trying to represent. You can't beat the peddlers trying to get you to by phone cards, fresh tacos from the the taqueria, swap meet-like shopping experience, cowboy boots, cheap LEEVIS, and scorpion belt buckles. From my last visit home, I dig the scene that's down there right now (Live in West Virginia ), seems like a perfect balance. There's already a Starbucks, what next? Rest In Peace, Calle Cuatro.

gabriel san roman
gabriel san roman

So much for a future fully embraced SanTana version/vision of elay's Olvera Street...por ahora.

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

Gus's faux-mexi outrage is a joke.

latina
latina

oops, I mispelled Mexican lol, funny me, on my bottom paragraph

Latina
Latina

ok wait a min hold on! I am Mexican American and I was brought up with my tradicions but as time goes by ppl forget their traditions and its ok, u dont have to keep up with the Mexican culture, we live in this country so its time for some change, if ppl want to keep up the Mexan tradition and do it hard core they might as well go back to Mexico, and It is a good idea that they change 4th street, its time for a change, business there is very bad, they are not making any money have u guys been there lately?? Its really bad

coral cactus flower
coral cactus flower

The writer complains about these changes to the promenade in front of the Yost Theater happening "unceremoniously." Exactly what kind of ceremony would have been appropriate?

The business in the area are struggling, and while nostalgia is fun, it is almost always biased---people remember what they want to remember. It also shouldn't be the basis of decision-making when people's livelihoods are on the line. Investing in the area will bring more people in, something that can only help a struggling section of the city flourish.

Oh yeah---one more thing:hipsters love the mango lady.

dee
dee

My mom owns a beauty salon just left of that picture...Aries Beauty Salon...it is good to see change, and it is up to us Mexicans to change with the times, and hope that it is not so much a cleansing as a revitalization of the area. I had a suggestion for a friend once...get a group of Mexicans to go to Gypsy Den's open mic and perform things in Spanish. Begin to show face in these new establishments, and make the Latino presence felt still and always.

Leroyguzm714
Leroyguzm714

Those gabachos always find a way to screw things up...hopefully the the generation of latinos will once again adapt and integrate the heritage of SanTana's past with the new age of those binche gabachos...

junior
junior

Gustavo,

Fourth street, east of French street, was just starting to be mexified in the late 60's - I know - I grew up, hung out, worked and shopped there and went to school very near there.

"1916 (?)" - not hardly.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Prostitutes? Really? I've been hanging out there longer than that, and I never saw them.

Jeannie
Jeannie

Have been connecting with others that went to Santa Ana Valley High School and have learned, looking people up, that a lot still live with-in a mile of the school still. They went there from 1961 to 1970 that I am talking about. I have a few friends that their families are part of the Pioneers. They are still there! Some still in the same house they grew up in.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

"Spanish" descent? BULLSHIT. Betcha you're darker than a Oaxacan...

whocares?mexican
whocares?mexican

What are your suggestions for Gustavo to do? You make it plain that you are a professional, did you not choose your profession? Are you a contributor to the culture, be it Mexican-Mexican American. Let everyone who is Pocho-Mexican whatever have their say. Mexicans will survive the urbanization of Santa Ana-and they will contribute to its new image be it good or bad. I for one enjoy Gustavo's articles I don't believe they are intended to change anyone's idea of a Mexican, but I as a Mexican don't care what anyone's view of a Mexican is.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

90 percent of our audience, white? Where do you get that stat from?

A Mexican with a Voice
A Mexican with a Voice

Umm I don't know if you noticed but we have been fighting and doing something about this for a very long time. The Mexican community has spoken but no one has listened, so by definition we are victims but unlike most victims we will never stop fighting until our voices are heard loud and clear.

Jeannie
Jeannie

I grew up in Santa Ana and I am white. The proud people that made Santa Ana were white. And I went to school with all races! I love ALL my Classmates! I feel we should just be people, not race! And for Santa Ana to be the GREAT place it was we need everyone to come into Santa Ana to spend their money!!!!

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Coral: I agree with all your points except that the Brave New Urbanists were whining about Fourth Street even in its boom times.

seximexi
seximexi

its bullshit they open up new bars n downtown santAna and who works in there? blond girls from newport its all crap

Pocha For Life, Guey.
Pocha For Life, Guey.

Why do I have to speak Spanish to make my Latino presence felt? I think it's felt the minute they look at me and say "Hey! It's a Latina". I don't think I have to break out into a folklorico dance to prove who I am. Anyways, I don't know Spanish. So it would be a horrible performance.

junior
junior

".. the heritage of SanTana's past .."

It is Santa Ana - not SanTana.

junior
junior

oops - I meant west of French - but no matter east and west of French before 1970 were majority gabacho my friend.

Losman360
Losman360

What Da !.. So that means the Arcade on the 2nd floor, Fiesta theater is going down ? I have fond memories of Street Fighter II tournaments that were hosted @ that chante. It's all hood though, I mean who the f*ck hangs out @ arcades nowadays? Oh my bad, that would be grown as men at D&B's.. Dirty !

johnnydilznik
johnnydilznik

He probably meant female prostitutes Gussy.  You wouldn't be interested.

Sa Mexi
Sa Mexi

How many of the businesses in Downtown SA have OC metro, or even SA alone? Maybe the outer limits, toward tustin, orange, costa mesa. Ask another mexican in SA how he feels about a educated mexican like you, writing this in the OC. You realy think you are some sort of liason between the anglos and the mexicans.

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

And what exactly have you done except piss and moan? Change is coming; be a part of it or accept the consequences.

coral cactus flower
coral cactus flower

I definitely can't argue with the fact that people complained about Fourth Street even when it was doing well, but I'm not sure the people I'm thinking of fall into the "Brave New Urbanist" category. They pretty much fall into the "How Come Things Is Different Now" category, and those complaints happen whenever any group of people feels disenfranchised.

Evita
Evita

Che Pocha..Se escribe 'BUEY' no GUEY..Means OX in Spanish

dee
dee

It's nothing but "gabachos" performing there...for people who are of the arts, and can speak spanish, it would be a good way to make one's presence felt in this new "artists village." Your pride should lend itself passed just the visible; pride pours over into dedication of the craft of the sould, mind, and person, therefore, Spanish is essential in being Latina/o, Mexican, etc. I don't roll with that whole chicano thing...which seems to sum up people who considers themselves mexican but with the name "chicano" gives 'em the excuse not to speak the language.

Pocha For Life, Guey
Pocha For Life, Guey

Agree with Junior. My mom talks about how 4th Street and how Santa Ana was in general "back before" you know - the border brothers came over. This was back in the 50s and very early 60s. And yes, we may be "pochos", but we can admit when things go to hell. She said Santa Ana is evidence of that. I'm all for the restoration of an Old Town feel in Santa Ana again - but how it was..."back before".

latina
latina

I agree, but I think u hang out there admit it,

Pocha For Life, Guey
Pocha For Life, Guey

Sorry to burst your Mexi-bubble but I don't have an "excuse" for not speaking Spanish. English was my first language as it should be living here in the U.S of A. My grandparents felt it necessary to teach us English first since their children would often get in trouble for speaking Spanish at the "times of segregation". They didn't expect it to be a priority for American society to assimilate to all other cultures - they came here way long ago when they had to assimilate to this country. And better believe my family definitely kept some Mexican traditions. However, my past 4 generations have not resided in Mexico. Also, I don't run around calling myself a "chicano/a" either. So, please get off your "we are brown and proud" high horse. I have much appreciation for all arts - any language. But the area does not need to turn into a little Mexico to make your presence known. The so-called "real Mexicans" are possibly more racist at times than the whites they try to blame. Hating on people because they don't know Spanish and actually have some American tradition as well - give me a break. Grow up.

Latina
Latina

dee what ever ure just a wanna be eighter u stand up for ure culture or ure nobody so make up ure mind

RP in SA
RP in SA

Easy there, Gustavo. Back then there two schools of thought: shop "uptown" on 4th street and be like one them (gabachos), or shop near the neighborhood and stay with the gente. Segregation or assimilation?

Growing up in the 60's, I got my hair cut at Benitez Barbershop, bought Levis at the Army Navy Store, shopped for clothes at Vandermast's and discovered the club sandwich combo at the Woolworth's lunch counter. All on 4th street.

My parents knew the retailers on 4th street didn't just see brown, they also saw green.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Yeah, back before your mom lived in glorious segregation and all the Mexicans were limited to Logan, Delhi, Artesia and their little stores. Must've been great times!

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