|Escalante Community Center, April 2011 (photos by Tuesday Marquez and Art Collazo)|
2150 E. Orange St., Tempe
The Escalante Center located in northeast Tempe at 2150 E. Orange St. In, 1969 the Escalante Community Center was established. The Center began as a social organization for the teens. The focus of the center was to address high school dropout rates. In order to serve the culturally diverse and dynamic community an assessment was made of the surround community to determine what services and objectives the community center would have. The park and center, are named after three individuals, 2 brothers and a cousin, who paid the ultimate price while fighting to defend their country and freedom during World War II. The brothers, PFC Cipriano R. Escalante and PFC George R. Escalante and their cousin PFC Gabriel V Escalante all fought and died in the Pacific Theater during the war. The Tempe city council received a resolution from the League of United Latin American Citizens requesting that the park be named after the Escalante Boys. Today, a memorial of the three Escalante men stands guard at the entrance to the Escalante Community Center.
Twenty-four years before the establishment of the center , the “Victory Acres” Neighborhood was established; the Escalante Center is in the heart of Victory Acres. Victory Acres is the oldest “barrio” in the east valley. In 1945, George Tibshraeny, a Lebanese immigrant, subdivided eighty acres of farmland and The long lots were good for raising "Victory Gardens" to help support the war effort. Most of the first settlers were returning Mexican American servicemen who built their own homes. Mexican Americans laid down the blueprint for the small community to take shape in Victory Acres. St. Margaret's Catholic Church, two stores, and a saloon were all created. In 1960, The Mexican-American Community of La Victoria, formally known as Victory Acres, was annexed by the city of Tempe. The community remained a Mexican-American community even to this present day.
The racial demography of the places where people live, work, play, shop, and travel expose them to a socially shared system of exclusion and inclusion (Lipsitz). La Victoria community has been victim exclusion because of its location, people that live in the community. Before the annexation, the community relied on themselves to build their own homes, there was no sewer system and no paved roads. To this day “La Victoria” remains unrecognized by the city of Tempe as a historic neighborhood. This because the homes were not built buy actual contractors, therefore the city views them as unreliable, and eroding homes. Furthermore, the Victory Acres community would not have been involved in process of establishing the center if it weren’t for Gil Monatez. He persisted that La Victoria community play an active role in the establishment of the center. Even after, the establishment of the community center it was not open at night because people where scared of working in the community thought the night. In the past and till this present day the Victoria Community is excluded from being recognized for the historic value their community in Tempe.
- Tuesday Marquez and Art Collazo
Lipsitz, George. "The Radicalization of Space and The Specialization of Race." Landscape Journal 26, no. 1 (2007): 10-22.
Vega, Santos C. “Mexicans in Tempe” . Arcadia Publishing.. 2009