“Beginning in the 1970s, the precipitous decline of the area’s manufacturing base resulted in a loss of the jobs that had allowed skilled union workers to have a middle class life.”
          Wikipedia, “South Los Angeles”

In the Los Angeles area, the period of heavy industry which existed in the Northeast for a couple of centuries was compressed into about sixty years, starting in the 1920s and ending somewhere in the 80s. People migrated from all over the country to work in the auto plants, tire plants, aerospace factories and steel mills.

I worked in the Bethlehem Steel plant in Maywood, California from 1973 to 1982, at the tail end of this period. There were blacks from the deep South, whites from Oklahoma, Latinos from all over the Southwest, Native Americans from the reservations of Arizona and New Mexico. A toxic, dangerous, truly vibrant melting pot.


Ford Pico Rivera
GM South Gate
GM Van Nuys
Firestone Tire plant 1928
     the mocking skeleton still visible
     as an Egyptian fort
     off the 5 Freeway

Bethlehem Steel
Slauson Avenue Maywood
Alcoa Aluminum
     rest in peace1994
North American Rockwell
Kaiser Steel Fontana
corrosive dust in the air
and union jobs for everyone

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