By Levi Clancy for לוי on
The San Gabriel Valley conjures images of the southwestern, Route 66, historic flavors from its north; or the Asian ethnoburb in its south. Nobody actually says San Gabriel Valley unless they need a convenient term for the region "east of Los Angeles, you know, like Pasadena." Or if they live more inland in the stark, hot, dry suburbs: "out by Azusa, Arcadia." Or even those furthest reaches of LA territory: "I live way out there, in West Covina, like, by Pomona."
Volunteer organizations and clubs will use San Gabriel Valley (SGV) to bring all these people together, threaded together by the 210 Freeway in the north and 10 Freeway in the south. SGV refers to people who are on the same side of downtown LA's traffic and live close enough to join the same Sierra Club. But each part of the San Gabriel Valley is otherwise independent: there is no sense of this is my home when someone drives through Pasadena en route to Covina.
Areas immediately adjacent to East LA like Highland Park and Lincoln Heights share its murals, graffiti, drum-circles and art communes -- thus they are included in East LA. East LA culture even penetrates into Alhambra, but this is where the Chinese ethnoburb begins. These two zones of the San Gabriel Valley exist in their own realm, distinct from Pasadena, Covina, and the other 210-accessible areas.
Not to say that all of the San Gabriel Valley proper is homogeneous: in fact, it has plenty of depressed areas, ghetto, crime-laded zones. But these are immediately adjacent to, sometimes across the street from, wealthy areas which seem unaffected by gangs which roam their territories in low Cadillacs.