Latino neighborhoods

There is a section in my city that is heavily latino (the clothing stores, barber shops and grocers are all latino).

I noticed something today while driving through: there seems to be a real sense of community there that I don’t see elsewhere.

The first thing I noticed were all the kids, actually outdoors, some on bikes, others walking with adults. I can drive through other neighborhoods and not see any kids at all.

The next thing I notice are the people gathered outside and talking. I especially see that at the barber shops (funny, there’s like 4 barber shops over the length of less than 1/2 a mile). It’s weird to see people walking down the sidewalk, see someone and say hi, like they know each other. I just don’t see that in other parts of the city.

This is pretty mundane as it gets, but I thought I’d share. Every time I drive through that neighborhood, I am just amazed by the stark difference to all the other neighborhoods in my area.

I wonder why the difference. Why can I drive through other neighborhoods, say my sister’s, where I know there are a bunch of families, and not see any kids, and definitely not see kids out walking with their parents?

Why is it that so many american neighborhoods are so closed off, so uninviting (in N.E., anyway).

Tell me what your neighborhood is like.

I live in a (mostly) Dominican neighborhood in west Harlem*, a neighborhood in New York City. During the summer there are families out and about. A lot of people sit on stoops or set up tables and chairs and play board games. Ever since the temperature outside went way up water has been spewing from the fire hydrants and kids play in it. I’ve even seen little inflatable kiddie pools filled with fire hydrant water. For some reason fireworks have also been going off nightly for the past week (yes, I know the 4th of July is tomorrow, these have just preceded it by while). There is Spanish spoken, but much more frequently I hear people speaking English to each other. The music I sometimes hear at night ranges from traditional Spanish music to Adele.

*For those who aren’t familiar with NYC, Harlem begins above Central Park. Harlem is divided at Fifth Avenue into east and west like the rest of the city. West Harlem has become more and more gentrified in the past few years. The crime rate has gone way down and many chains have opened stores here. East Harlem still lags behind and is an area known for gang violence.

Sorry, I realized I didn’t answer your questions. Maybe in other neighborhoods kids are inside because their parents either have them scheduled for a bajillion things/want them to study/are fearful? I don’t know if it’s a race/ethnicity phenomenon so much as a socioeconomic one.

I think it happens for a few reasons. Two come to mind right away. 1)In those tight dense neighborhoods, there’s considerably less urban sprawl. Where I live, I can’t walk to the grocery store or to get my haircut…they can and do. 2)They tend to have much lower incomes so not driving or not having a car is more common and it might be preferable to be outside during the day where it’s, say, 70 or 80 degrees rather then inside where it’s 80 or 85 degrees since they may not have their AC on during the day to save money (or may not have one).

Also, I think, as you mentioned, people in those neighborhoods just all seem to know each other better and I think it creates a cycle. They hang out in their front yards and chit chat and get to know each other and since they know each other they hang out outside more often. The kids meet each other and ride their bikes up and down the block. Everyone knows everyone on the block so they just walk from house to house. No reason to drive a block away.

Also, in a lot of lower income neighborhoods, you’ll find duplexes. Duplexes have raised porches (I’m taking about on the first floor). This lets you see up and over bushes/hedges and makes it easier to talk to people walking by or your next door neighbors. I wonder if that helps it along at all. If I sit on my porch, I can’t see any of my neighbors, since I can’t see over anything being at ground level. But if I was up a few feet and my house was 4 feet from the house next door…

Ah, the Mission District … last hospitable place in San Francisco.

The Fruitvale district in Oakland is like that, too.

I have to get going for work, so I can’t wax too poetic; but let me just say that I, for one, am very happy to have Mexican immigrants here in California. This is just my opinion, and a broad generalization, but on the whole I have observed that they just aren’t inclined to mess with people for no reason. They do indeed seem to have a strong sense of family and community, and they seem to value kindness and compassion pretty highly.

Gringo that lives in the Barrio by choice here,
I have always felt comfortable in the Barrio, I never worry about getting broken into or robbed because I am part of a community. Everyone here is working class and friendly. Everyone knows me, if not by name by sight. Here its all Beer, Barbacoa Y Accordions. So yes I do believe that the OP is correct, La Communidad es Primero but anyone can join
Paz Y Amor


I’ve noticed this in Latino neighborhoods, but not only there. When i lived in Baltimore, i noticed the same sort of thing in working-class black neighborhoods, and also in the working-class white neighborhoods like Hampden.

It seems, as much as anything else, to be a function of socio-economic class, rather than race or ethnicity. Poorer, more working-class neighborhoods seem to have more of this particular type of neighborliness.

Of course, this is my observation only, based on a relatively small sample in Baltimore and in other American cities that i’ve visited, and we need to be careful about drawing big sociological conclusions from a few examples.

I know most of my neighbors by name, and the rest by sight. I know what most do for a living and what their kids names are and even most of their pets names. Kids play outside all the time weather permitting… it is not uncommon to see a bike or several left in the yards in the morning while leaving for work (not locked up, just forgot to take them in). I know if a neighbor is having a rough time with illness, death, or whatever and it is not uncommon to bring them a meal if they are in this situation. I never call the post office to stop my mail while on vacation because I know the kid next door will collect it and bring it to me when we get home. While away I know that if anything happened to my house I’d get several calls since most of my neighbors know my number.

The woman across the street is Latino, but that is it. There are a few Asians, but most of us are basic white mid-westerners. I guess the best part of living here is I thought this was normal.

When I lived in a heavily Hispanic neiborhood in Nashville, I tended to know my neighbors, know which ones had kids (not many in my complex, as the apartments were all one bedroom units), which of the guys played soccer and on which team of the city leagues (they practiced in the courtyard), which of the guys would give me a hand if I needed something heavy moved or had a vehicle problem, which ones sometimes needed help with translations (even with my poor skills in Spanish, I sometimes stepped in), who played music (sometimes, we had some awesome fusion jam sessions, what with the country, bluegrass, blues and Latino musicians there) and who cooked up a mean barbecoa.

Most of my Latino neighbors were from Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador. About a third of us were working class whites and blacks. Although we weren’t in a good walking part of town, we were still within a short walk of shopping and services. I miss that.

My neighborhood looks suspiciously white-bread, with rows of non-descript tract houses. All the roofs have the same shade of grey asphalt shingles, there’s maybe 5 brick color variations, and maybe another 5 “acceptable” colors of woodwork and siding, ranging from white to beige to tan. Each yard contains precisely one tree, selected from the 5 or 6 “acceptable” tree species list. Upgraded fences and landscaping are rare. I call it “Homeowner Association Drab”.

However, I am happy to report that looks can be deceiving, and white people are actually not the majority in my immediate area. We have about 30% white families, 30% hispanic, 20% black, and a good smattering of Asians and Indians to round things out.

When it’s not a zillion degrees outside, the neighborhood is pretty active. Lots of kids playing basketball, riding bikes, and just messing around. People walking their dogs, getting some exercise, tinkering with their project cars, cooking on grills on their front porch.

I live in an area reknown for being about as cheap as possible for buying or renting large new-ish homes while staying within a decent and cheap school district.

A 3500-square foot 2-story sells for around $150-200k here, but property taxes are still pretty low and the schools above-average, so you can imagine it’s a popular choice for families that are “just barely” able to afford a new home. Lots of homes are multi-family and multi-generational, especially with the Asian and Hispanic families. Pool your resources a bit, and a large new-ish house becomes affordable even if you’re working class, as long as you have decent credit and can get a mortgage, it makes sense. Most have kids and find the schools better out here.

I think a lot of it has to do with people wanting to live where they live. The basic white yuppie thing, which includes a fair number of my college friends, was competitive housing during the market run ups. Immediately after getting a place they started resenting it ,plotting how to get to a better place with bigger value growth. Not the the age old “we need a house big enough for a family” thing , but constant flipping and dissatisfaction.

It was just a thing that had investment qualities, not the central point of your life in which you gave a damn about the neighborhood, cause that was just a line in the estimate.

I never saw that to the same degree. in working class and ethnic neighborhoods. It always seemed a lot more “this is my house and this is my neighborhood, I’d hate to leave”

Mmmmm, because of the socio-economic factors mentioned above, there are fewer solitary gadgets. I mean, if not everyone in your household can afford cell phones, your kids will probably walk down the block to see if their friends can play. If only one or two families have an Xbox, not everyone can go in and play. If you can’t afford to take your whole family to Chuck E. Cheese and a movie, you’ll eat outside on your patio and listen to music.

Latinos tend to have a very gregarious culture. I’m sure it is somewhat related to economics - the poorer you are, the more you need that safety net of other people. I’ve heard some pretty fantastic stories about immigrant communities in general, such as one Indian community that basically created a group insurance account that they used for living expenses during rough times. Everyone chipped in. When a person borrowed money, they would pay it back in full because they had a reputation to uphold.

When I was in Mexico years ago I was walking down the street on Father’s Day and this guy out BBQing called me over while I was walking by. He made me a steak and a margarita and we spent hours sitting in his yard talking while his children played. One of the best memories of my entire trip.

I can’t imagine anything like that happening where I live in the U.S. I don’t even know the names of my neighbors.

Funny, you just described my neighborhood in Minneapolis when I was growing up in the '60s and '70s. My very white, urban, working class neighborhood, where all the kids and all the parents knew each other, socialized with each other, and hung around outside a lot because that’s where all the fun stuff was.