When people think of East Los Angeles the first things that pop into most people’s heads are gang violence, drugs dealers, crooks, and thieves. In a way this is what makes the Maravilla Projects such a well-known place because, yes, these things do occur, but crime is not exclusive to just East L.A. The Maravilla Projects were established in 1968, and span over an entire block from Mednik Ave. to the border of East L.A. Community College. The complex houses about five hundred people, and is beautifully landscaped as well as nicely maintained. There are also Mexican restaurants surrounding the area carrying the smell of the food lingering by the projects.
The projects have many well-known characteristics like the many families that live side by side, who share similar backgrounds, carry a strong sense of culture, and come together into a tightly-knit community, creating a unique environment. All of these factors contribute to Maravilla’s reputation as a landmark. I myself have been a resident in the Maravilla Projects for three years. The three years that I lived there most mornings I awoke to the smell of chorizo, chilaquiles, almost always it was some sort of Mexican food. If you lived there you’d see the good and the bad and sometimes you’d see the things you weren’t meant to see like the occasional family feud or personal drama. Most days it was interesting, especially as a child.
Most people have heard of the gang that lurks within the Maravilla Projects and outsiders think that danger creeps out of every corner, but you should not feel discouraged because the smell of the traditional foods of the people who reside in the projects is strong, the sound of the music is lively, and the look could use just a bit of an update. The projects aren’t as bad as they seem, but there’s no sugarcoating that the gang is harmful, because any street gang can be dangerous. But the ones targeted are not children, women, and average men; they’re neighborhood gangs, so just walking by the project isn’t as dangerous as most would believe.