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A Look Back at Boyle Heights’ Estrada Courts Murals in the 1970s


Members of the Hoyo Maravilla gangMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva CockcroftMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gangMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva CockcroftdetailMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva Cockcroftpaint on stuccoMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva Cockcroftpaint on stuccoMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva CockcroftGive Me LifeMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva Cockcroftcorner of Lorena Street and Olympic BoulevardMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva Cockcroft#3Members of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva CockcroftEstrada Courts maps.; Credit: Photograph by Kazuo Higa/Courtesy of HACLA/Courtesy of Estate of Kazuo HigaMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva CockcroftCharles “Cat” Felix and young men from the VNE gangMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva Cockcroft1974Members of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva Cockcroftest. 18 × 23 feetMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva CockcroftEstrada Courts housing projectMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva CockcroftEstrada Courts maps.; Credit: Photograph by Marcos Sanchez-Tranquilino/Courtesy of HACLA/Courtesy of Marcos Sanchez-TranquilinoMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva CockcroftManuel GonzálezMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva Cockcroft1973Members of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva Cockcroftest. 18 × 23 feetMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva CockcroftEstrada Courts housing project. Mural #35Members of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva CockcroftEstrada Courts housing project. Mural #35Members of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva CockcroftOrale RazaMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva Cockcroftpaint on stuccoMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva CockcroftLorena StreetMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva CockcroftBoyle Heights UFW Mural (#63) in background. Mural #66Members of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva CockcroftBoyle Heights UFW Mural (#63) in background. Mural #66Members of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva CockcroftVirgen de GuadalupeMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva Cockcroftpaint on stuccoMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva CockcroftHunter Street at Lorena StreetMembers of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva CockcroftBoyle Heights. Mural #62Members of the Hoyo Maravilla gang, Unidos Carnales, detail, 1974, paint on stucco, Gifford Avenue at Avenida Cesar Chavez. Mural painted out.; Credit: Photograph by Eva Cockcroft/Courtesy of Estate of Eva Cockcroft

At the Estrada Courts housing project in Boyle Heights, the walls are time capsules of the Chicano art movement. Beginning in the 1960s, Mexican-American artists began emblazoning drab cinder-block and stucco walls with brightly colored murals, which represented the dreams, aspirations and cultural pride of a population that might have otherwise felt trapped in their environs.

In the new book Give Me Life: Iconography and Identity in East L.A. Murals, art historian Holly Barnet-Sanchez and independent scholar Tim Drescher delve into the histories of the 90-plus murals that once graced the housing project's walls. Many of the murals still exist, but they've been faded by sunlight and vandalized by a younger generation. There's some restoration work underway, but in the meantime take a look back at the Estrada Courts murals the way they were meant to be seen.