ABSTRACT

The Chicana/o community’s structural relationship to the regional economy was a major determinant of residential locational patterns in this era. During the early period of settlement, Chicanos resided in small pueblos and rural townships scattered throughout the Southwest, a legacy of the land grant era (Rosenbaum 1981; McWilliams 1968). Initially, communal relationships provided ample natural resources to everyone, offering an economically sustainable lifestyle. Settlement decisions were not narrowly based on private property, but rather on the social and economic welfare of the entire community (Rosenbaum 1981; Hernandez 1983). The regional economy transformed with the expansion of the national railroad system and an influx of capital investment, both of which influenced the locational preferences of low-wage labor. Immigration, mainly from Mexico, to meet regional labor market demands has been a major socio-demographic feature of the Southwest since the late 1800s. The other major settlement region was coastal California, a legacy of Spain’s empire building and the mission system established from Baja del Sur to Sonoma in Northern California.