“El Barrio,” the predominantly Latino neighborhood in East Harlem, has long been a cultural center for the New York Latino community. Latinos began emigrating to El Barrio in the 1920s, with a large wave of Puerto Ricans immigrants arriving after World War II. In addition to its cultural heritage, El Barrio has also overcome significant struggles with poverty, and drug and gang activity. Recently, many Barrio residents complain that real estate development in the neighborhood is leading to gentrification, and a loss of Latino cultural heritage in this historic neighborhood.
On October 5th, 2010 the Museum of the City of New York presented a film series titled, “In Danger of Extinction,” which showcased two films dealing with gentrification in New York City. “The Lower East Side: An Endangered Place” by Robert Weber, focuses on the gentrification of the Lower East Side, one of the oldest neighborhoods in New York City that has long been home to a diverse community of working-class immigrants. “Whose Barrio?” investigates gentrification in El Barrio, and was produced by Newsday journalists Ed Morales and Laura Rivera. Laura Rivera is also a graduate of NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. In the film, two Barrio residents—Jose Rivera and James Garcia—reveal starkly opposing views on gentrification.