Localresidents are invited to a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the initiation of MANGo, the Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway projectAVE, and to recognize the diverse cultural groups and individuals who have lived on or near the Avenue for almost 100 years.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, May 30, 10-11:30 a.m., at the cul-de-sac north of Michigan at 12th Street.

Michigan Avenue is a heavily trafficked roadway, much of it by drivers who see the street that parallels Pico Boulevard and the Santa Monica Freeway as an east/west, pass-through route of choice. At 3:30 p.m. on weekdays, for example, it’s often bumper-to-bumper with those picking up students from Santa MonicaHigh School. Young people walking or biking home from school often stop and sit on low walls or patches of grass to catch up with each other.

An hour later, those coming home drive or bike along the street to the mostly one- or two-story single or multi-family homes in the Pico Neighborhood. On these lengthening days of late spring, folks are out later, walking their dogs along the ficus tree-lined avenue or strolling or exercising. It’s a good time to cruise your bike, with traffic diminishing.

Today, one can hear the hum of vehicles from the nearby freeway, but if one were out on the street in the early 1950s, chances are the only sounds you’d hear on Michigan would be neighbors talking or kids out playing or birds making that rushing sound one often hears before they nest down for the night.

Folks who have lived along the west end of Michigan in the same bungalow-type homes for over half a century describe the farms that once bordered the rear of their houses and of everyday life in the community. At the east end of the Pico Neighborhood, a mile or two from the end of Michigan, Japanese American Arnold Maeda was born on one of those farms in 1926. African American resident Mac McPherson talks of walking down Michigan and picking up friends on the way on the way to Santa MonicaHigh School over 60 years ago.

Paulina Sahagun describes the community she lived in, called La Veinte, between 14th and 20th Street, where her parents settled in mid-century after emigrating from Mexico. Michigan runs right through its heart. So did the freeway.

Maeda, McPherson and Sahagun are featured speakers at the ribbon-cutting.

MANGO is a project of the City’s Planning Department, with a Caltrans grant to create a neighborhood-oriented street that is calm and user friendly for pedestrians and bicycle riders, as well as those driving.

Construction on MANGo’s first phase began early in May with Community Development Block Grant Funds, and includes installation of four traffic circles along Michigan at 9th, 10th, 12th and Euclid Streets, with replacement of former corner ramps with a new crossing design. Community members designed the project during workshops and the “Pop-Up MANGo” community festival attended by over 400 neighbors last fall.

The City hosts the event, co-sponsored by the Pico Neighborhood Association (PNA), with a welcome from Mayor Kevin McKeown, followed by the three speakers, introduced by Dolores Sloan, Pico Neighborhood resident. The Santa Monica Symphony Brass Quintet will perform and provide music.

Those attending can view exhibits provided by the Pico Library, Pico Improvement Organization, PNA, Pico Youth and Family Center, Quinn Research Center, Santa Monica SPOKE, Venice Japanese American Memorial Marker Committee and Virginia Avenue Park. Light refreshments will be offered.

Dolores Sloan is a Santa Monica resident.

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