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My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working-Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920-1965
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My Blue Heaven: Life and Politics in the Working-Class Suburbs of Los Angeles, 1920-1965

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  39 ratings  ·  6 reviews
In the 1920s, thousands of white migrants settled in the Los Angeles suburb of South Gate. Six miles from downtown and adjacent to Watts, South Gate and its neighboring communities served as L.A.'s Detroit, an industrial belt for mass production of cars, tires, steel, and other durable goods. Blue-collar workers built the suburb literally from the ground up, using sweat eq ...more
Paperback, 430 pages
Published May 2nd 2002 by University Of Chicago Press
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This is a marvelously well researched and incredibly detailed look at the lives of people in South Gate, one which challenges a number of common assumptions about the suburbs while providing evidence for others. I love how it details the ways that ideas and meanings of home and community were constructed, and their change over time.
Her principal argument is that from the 1920s through WWII, home was primarily a survival strategy for the working class. They bought affordable lots and built home
Michael Brickey
This book is set within the Los Angeles city limits and it details how a white working-class "suburb" arose and fought racial integration. Nicolaides is one of the first scholars to challenge the definition of a suburb as a political unit outside the city limits. She contends that the geo-spatial boundaries of a city do not define suburban and urban America. A suburb has an attitude, a way of life that defines itself as a specific place for specific people. South Gate, the "suburb" Nicolaides st ...more
In My Blue Heaven, Becky Nicolaides presents a number of “modern” attributes for Los Angeles, and the suburb of South Gate in particular. For South Gate’s working class residents in particular, it is a city of hard work, yes – but also of leisure, of consumption, and of intensive mobility (67). South Gate, its homes built by migrants, appears as “a tabula rasa…a thoroughly modern city” (67) upon which home owners wrote their visions of the good life – or at least a better life than in Texas or ...more
Nancy Beck
Dec 10, 2010 Nancy Beck is currently reading it
Um...I'm still reading it. :-) However, so far, it's fascinating. Although I originally got the book to clear up some things about a novel I'm writing (and writing and writing, lol), it does go into some detail as to how people lived in this specific section of Los Angeles from the 20's to the 60's. I'm at the part about the Depression, and what people did for recreation: movies (naturally, since Hollywood's about 20 minutes away), radio, the beach, cutting a rug (dancing, for those of you who d ...more
I read it for a class, and I'm guessing the primary audience is academic types.

Still, a completely interesting and not boring book about suburban LA.
One of the best books on Southern California history. Deserves a wider audience.
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