Scenes from Downtown Santa Ana

Earlier this year I was able to see a seemingly familiar neighborhood through a new lens, both metaphorically and literally. The dense, noisy square that is Downtown Santa Ana is home to a relatively insulated population of Latino immigrants, hundreds of chronically homeless individuals and waves of norm-core, camera-toting young professionals.

Adding to the mosaic are second- and third-generation Latino immigrants who are integrating modern hipster aesthetics with Latin American culture in both socially subversive and arguably commercialized ways. The area’s changing demographics and aesthetics have inspired many to cry gentrification, but as I learned from talking to some of DTSA’s frequenters, the situation is a lot more complicated than people make it out to be.

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A woman sells flowers to passerby on the corner of Main and 17th streets on Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Downtown Santa Ana, California. (Lola Olvera).
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Socorro Rivas is kept busy making fruit snacks on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018 in Downtown Santa Ana, California. (Lola Olvera).

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