Recover your “old” Neighborhood using Google Maps

If voting for elected officials every four years is supposed to teach Americans about their rights to choose in a democratic society, it’s only logical for them to pursue even more ways to “get involved” in the shaping of their society. But historically, in inner cities all across America, where Black and immigrant families have made their living and supported the growth of this country for centuries, when it’s come to transforming their homes, streets, and neighborhoods according to their own judgments and expertise, they’ve had little, if any choice in the matter.

Today an alternative to such an exclusionary process may be possible, but first the “old” has to be uncovered, if not recovered. So here’s how almost any city-goer with an internet connection can see the changes–or lack thereof–within their neighborhood over the last ten years in four easy steps:

I. On a laptop or home computer, go to Google Maps.

II. In the search bar, think of a familiar building or business and type in its address. For example, “Cafecito Organico,” which is at 534 North Hoover street.

III. Once the image is done loading, find the transparent “legend” that contains the address, which looks like this:

IV. Click on the tiny triangle pointing downward next to the “Street View” option. Select the year for a prior photo of the address in question. You can now see some of your favorite intersections or old businesses from as far back as 2007, which is when Google Maps first started photographing cities to develop the GPS system we use daily today.

How does the Virgil Village, or LACC area look? Learn even more about the transformation of this community at This Side of Hoover on Instagram.



In our tenth episode, we sit down with Helen Kim of THE THINK FARM, the design studio whose flyers promoted our Back 2 School events beyond expectation. We discuss how gentrification of our neighborhood brought us together, the way “intimate” storytelling in Los Angeles is growing, creative collaborations in Koreatown, and more. See The Think Farm’s designs on Instagram: @thethinkfarm


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Virgil Village Loses Anthony ‘Lil Sleepy’ Ruiz

Aristides Antonio Ruiz Jr., a 29 year old disabled youth, was a life-long member of the Virgil Village community in the East Hollywood area of Los Angeles. On the evening of October 8th, 2019, shortly after 6:00 PM, Anthony was shot four times at the intersection of Virgil Avenue and Lockwood Street. He was rushed to the hospital, where hours later he was pronounced dead. For many locals in the area, Anthony was an unmistakable figure who crisscrossed the local side-walks in his wheelchair.

Anthony was characterized most of all by a child-like smile which came over his face when laughing in the company of his homies. Anthony became disabled over 15 years ago during his early teen years, when another shooting permanently severed his spine.

He was still at Thomas Starr King Middle School when he lost the ability to walk, and would go on to attend John Marshall High School before dropping out in the mid-2000s. He is survived by his Godfather, Vic, as well as friends and family throughout the neighborhood now grieving his loss. If you would like to support memorial services for Anthony, you can do so at his GoFundMe page.


Virgil Avenue and Normal Street; Los Angeles, Winter 2015

Back to the Block Again

Even though sometimes it’s one of the toughest things to walk past the gates and out to a neighborhood whose streets I’ve fallen on so many times.

As I put on my sneakers and open the door, I can’t help but question the arrangement of everything at home: that is, if I’m okay with leaving everything as it is, if for whatever reason I don’t get to make it back in time.

When I think about it for longer than a moment, I can’t help but want to hold onto my home and forget about the rest of the world, resolving that staying in could surely be the better choice in a world with no guarantee for my safety out there.

But then I think to myself that I can’t see things this way when everything and everyone is outside, when my mother and brother and all of my friends and loved ones are taking the risks past the grand unknowns that come with living in cities like ours.

It’s just that sometimes being at home is so familiar. Sometimes being at home alone is even more familiar than being in the company of friends or family.

But maybe it’s just the vastness of a self broken up into a million scattered seconds, at one moment telling me to get out there, then telling me to just stick to what I know since things are probably safer that way.

Somewhere through it all, the former gets a step ahead of the latter, and before I know what’s happening:

I find myself outside again, walking through the neighborhood I’ve known and not known for so long.

As I look out towards the familiar streets, I remark at how long it’s been, even if it was only just the other day since I crossed one intersection or another. But every time I see the streets again, they’re filled with new life; with new people, new possibilities, new dreams.

Unable to control the emotions this uproots in me, I can’t help but dream with the avenues and boulevards: of capturing all their life and loss and gorgeousness and making them shine bright enough to give them a place among the stars in a city which can always use more of them.

I see, then, how I do have to keep walking through the neighborhood. Even if I am to fall through its streets again, I can get back up knowing the streets and I share a common gravity, that we were made for each other, and that we rise and fall to complete one another. Home is not just what is within, then, it’s not even just what’s familiar; instead, it’s what is all around, and I value each of my surroundings. It is all home.


Last Call in ‘East Hollywood’









It’s time to get the final batch of conchas, a can of la lechera to make some arroz con leche, and for our ole vecinos, the final refrescos. And oh, we forgot the keys at the stand. Let’s go and get them while we can.

Good Night L.A.; Hasta Mañana.