The Broadway Project is a long-term arts and culture project led by the Quinn Research Center and supported by 18th Street Arts Center and the Santa Monica Public Library. Through public art in Santa Monica, the goal of this project is to develop a Broadway Historic Cultural District that celebrates the Black culture and history of Broadway between 14th and 20th Street in Santa Monica.
The Broadway Historic Cultural District
Santa Monica’s once sizable Black culture and history are invisible to most people in today’s city landscape. Only vestiges of a thriving Black community that spans over 100 years, remain today, and the landmarks that exist do not neatly fit preservationist standards. Undaunted, the Quinn Research Center has been using its archival materials to build the case for creating the Broadway Historic Cultural District, to mark the once primarily Black neighborhood located here.
This stretch of Broadway between 14th and 20th Streets was one of several lively hubs of Black life in Santa Monica. However, twice in the 1950s two hubs of Black families and businesses were displaced through eminent domain by Santa Monica officials. First from the Belmar neighborhood located on prime beachfront land (for an expanded Civic Center) and later for the new Interstate Highway 10. The LA Times reported in 1960 that as many as 550 Black families may have been displaced by the freeway.
The Quinn Research Center
The Quinn Research Center’s archive is a rare resource, and its founders, Bill and Carolyne Edwards continue to collect and do research on this part of Santa Monica’s history, gathering oral histories, and speaking to public groups, to recover this vibrant past of churches, businesses, summer schools, sports, and social clubs.
18th Street Arts Center
Culture Mapping 90404 is 18th Street’s community produced map highlighting the history and cultural assets of the Pico neighborhood of Santa Monica. Cultural assets are people, places, events, and organizations, both past and present, that serve as cultural anchors within this community. These are places that define the culture of the neighborhood, according to the people who live here. 18th Street has been in the Pico neighborhood since 1988 and has been collaborating with community members from Santa Monica and beyond to document these assets in an interactive website. The website features a Story Map, which highlights the threads that connect many of the cultural asset’s stories, and a Pro Map, which allows users to click on points that represent cultural assets on a map and learn more about each that way.
In this mapping process, 18th Street has learned many things about our neighborhood, and so have our artists in residence and local community.
The Quinn Research Center is one of the first cultural treasures 18th Street had the privilege of connecting with in regards to this project.
In 2018, Maj Hasager, a visiting artist in residence from Denmark, collaborated with the Quinn Research Center in a research exhibition called Iterations. Since then, artist Maj Hasager, and the QRC have formed a strong trusting relationship, and 18SAC presented an exhibition of Hasager’s work with the QRC archive in the summer of 2021 called Three Structures Touching, on view at 18th Street’s Airport Campus, Propeller Gallery. This exhibition launched public engagement around the Broadway Historic Cultural District through walking tours, public dialogues, art works, performances, and more.
The Broadway Walking Tour with Bill and Carolyne Edwards of the Quinn Research Center, 2021.
The Broadway Project: Digitization of Archive + Website Update
From October 2021 to July 2022, the Quinn Research Center has been digitizing their archive with the help of Grace Lauren, a graduate student at UCLA’s MLIS program. Through this process, Grace and the QRC have scanned documents and images, transcribed oral histories, and recorded metadata for each archive time asset according to the Dublin Core Standard. Kathy Lo, Santa Monica Public Library’s Research Librarian, has been supervising this process, providing resources and direction, ensuring that the process meets Library standards and best practices. Once digitized, this archive will be accessible online through Santa Monica Public Library’s Digital Archives, which will be complete in August 2022. Part of this project is updating the Quinn Research Center website, which will be complete by August 2022.
Bill Edwards, Kathy Lo, and Susan Lamb looking at archive materials of the Quinn Rsearch Center’s collection, 2022. Image courtesy of Carolyne Edwards.
The Broadway Project: Arts Advisory Council
One of the goals of this project is to develop a Black Cultural Heritage District through public art in Santa Monica. An important aspect of this project is the Arts Advisory Council who will help with the creation of concepts for public artworks and art engagements in the city. The Arts Advisory Council’s members are former and long-term residents of the Broadway neighborhood, artists, filmmakers, educators, arts and culture workers, and more. They meet once a month to discuss local histories, brainstorm ideas for artworks, and review the project’s process and goals.
As this project develops, we’ll give you an inside scoop through blog posts and more on this webpage!
PUBLIC ART ENGAGEMENTS
With the guidance of the Arts Advisory Council, artists are creating research based concepts that can be scaled up to permanent projects in the future.
Karla Diaz: Postcards from Broadway
On Saturday June 18, 2022, Santa Monica residents were invited to a postcard workshop that honored Santa Monica’s historic Broadway neighborhood, a thriving African American, Mexican American, and immigrant community that was destroyed by the construction of the Interstate 10 Freeway in the 1960s. Through this activity, participants explored the Quinn Research Center’s archive and created a postcard that highlights the underrepresented stories of this neighborhood with artist Karla Diaz.
The workshop provided copies of archival material sourced from the Quinn Research Center’s Broadway Heritage District archive. Participants were invited to cut and collage these materials into postcards that celebrated and explored local overlooked histories.
This workshop was organized by the Quinn Research Center and 18th Street Arts Center as part of the 30th Annual Juneteenth Celebration in Santa Monica’s Virginia Avenue Park.