For our group project, my colleagues and I took a trip around Long Beach to examine the way that economic divisions are still present in the city. The experience was quite enlightening, and helped me to see a city which is extremely familiar to me in an entirely new way. Starting at the Signal Hill oil fields, we saw the way that many of the streets and public spaces in the less wealthy districts have fallen into disrepair, with seemingly no concern over renovation or maintenance. We also observed the lack of access to fresh food and produce that exists in these districts.
We then visited a middle-class area, and observed the parks and streets in that district. In this area, it was clear that effort was put into maintaining public spaces for the residents, even if there was a lack of capital being invested into the area. The park, while not perfectly maintained, was a safe and entertaining place for families to visit and for children to play.
Finally, we visited the Pike. This is a beachfront shopping center, with outlets and high end restaurants, that represents one of the wealthiest parts of Long Beach. We observed how the visitors to this area are regulated through the use of paid parking and expensive stores and eateries. We also observed how this public/private space was policed by private security forces, who give the business owners even greater control over the area.