Photo: Chicken Corner from Magic Gas Panoramic
By Cindy Bennett
This morning, I received an email from a reader named Rene who was raised in the Del Mor Apartments building on Echo Park Avenue between Delta and Grafton. Since about 1999, galleries and then boutiques replaced old-time venues such as the Suku Suku (sp?) club, and hipsters and artists have moved into most of the units in a building that once was occupied principally by low-income Latino families. El Batey grocery is the last of the pre-2000 commercial shops, though it occupies half the space it used to have. The other half was transformed into Chango coffee house.
Dear Jenny, I grew up in that brick building above the Batey. I'm old school. I was there when all the ExP [Echo Park gang] was around. I thought I'd write you because I moved away to Oregon when I was fifteen. I haven't been back for almost ten years, but I've heard about the changes [in the neighborhood]. Even though things were bad back then it sucks the people aren't around anymore. I'm one of the many sad stories of that place. I always called it poverty's paradise. The place where the concrete bleeds and mothers' tears water seeds. It's sad the newcomers donít know the history.
Some of the other changes at Chicken Corner include the revamping of Magic Gas; the disappearance of the chickens and goat in the lot across the street from Chango; the disappearance of the chicken mural on the Delta wall of the Del Mor Apartments; the exponential rise in rent and property "values"; the coming and going of several art galleries; the introduction of a stop sign; fewer children.
What's missing from this picture? The stories.