Pico Block Party @ 18th Street Arts Center

Photos by Aren Wolf

Beach life isn’t the only culture native to Santa Monica.

Saturday’s inaugural Pico Block Party at 18th Street Arts Center celebrated the grassroots culture of the Pico Neighborhood, a historically African-American and Latino enclave that’s often overlooked and undervalued in today’s cultural zeitgeist.

Live salsa music, folklorico dance, art installations, food trucks, vendor booths and even a few classic cars made for an eclectic and family-friendly afternoon, but there was also serious cultural study afoot. The event marked the launch of Culture Mapping 90404, an ongoing interactive map project that pairs archival photos with oral histories told by current and former Pico Neighborhood residents.

Many of those personal histories bear witness to the displacement of community members by forces out of their control. The 1966 completion of the
Santa Monica Freeway sliced the thriving Pico and Stewart Park neighborhoods in half both geographically and socioeconomically, displacing several hundred mostly black and Latino families. Fifty years later, rising real estate prices continue to exert pressure on generational ties to the area.

To learn more about the progress of Culture Mapping 90404, call project coordinator Betty Marín at (310) 453-3711, ext. 105, or visit  18thstreet.org/culturemapping90404.

— Joe Piasecki


Yes, that was an earthquake you felt on Monday. A 3.1-magnitude temblor hit at 10:28 p.m. between Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades. usgs.gov

Santa Monica College’s speech and debate team won several top awards last weekend in the Pacific Southwest Collegiate Forensics Association tournament at Rio Hondo College. smc.edu

The Rotary Club of Santa Monica hosts a talk by developer Rick Caruso on May 12. rotaryclubof-santamonica.org

Mother’s Day is May 14, and Santa Monica restaurants are already taking reservations. (See page 20 for some helpful hints.)

The Santa Monica Chamber brings its monthly Biz@Sunset networking event to Bareburger on May 17. smchamber.com

Foodie alert: “MAINopoly: A Taste of Mainstreet” returns May 28, with nearly two dozen restaurants already signed up. Proceeds benefit Heal the Bay and Summer SOULstice. mainopolysm.com