Not Bowling Alone: How the Holiday Bowl in Crenshaw Became an Integrated Leisure Space

Tropics of Meta

377785513_13a0cf28f0_z-thumb-630x432-58257 Top: The Holiday Bowl sign today. Photo: Your Pal Dave/Flickr/Creative Commons

In May 2000, the New York Times reported the upcoming demolition of the Crenshaw District’s Holiday Bowl. Built by Japanese American investors in 1958, just as Crenshaw and neighboring Leimart Park were reemerging as one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods, the bowling alley served as an integrated leisure space where African, Mexican, and Asian Americans could interact. “It’s like a United Nations in there,” longtime employee Jacqueline Sowell told writer Don Terry. ”Our employees are Hispanic, white, black, Japanese, Thai, Filipino. I’ve served grits to as many Japanese customers as I do black. We’ve learned from each other and given to each other. It’s much more than just a bowling alley. It’s a community resource.”

Even amid the traumatic 1992 riots, numerous patrons, including Rodney G. King, sat outside the alley protecting it from looters telling anyone who…

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