The Important Role of Front Porches in Latino Communities

James Rojas explains the importance of front porches in Latino-American communities.

1 minute read

September 11, 2014, 12:00 PM PDT

By Maayan Dembo @DJ_Mayjahn

In the second part of a series on The Project For Public Spaces blog, Jame Rojas describes the composition, use, and importance of front porches in Latino-American communities throughout the United States. Despite the diminishing use of front porches in larger American society, Rojas explains how the front porch for Latinos remains a widely used amenity. According to Rojas, the "relatively mild climates found in Latin America, and due to a Spanish colonial-historical precedent that has favored a courtyard model of development, the use of outdoor space as part of the home is now commonplace within many Latino-American households."

For Latinos, the front porch provides the opportunity to engage with neighbors and become civic-minded, participating in the "sidewalk ballet," as coined by Jane Jacobs, and the larger neighborhood. Indeed, the Latino front porch is unique and adorned "with icons from Latin American architecture such as arches, tiles, stucco, brick, and wrought-iron railing and lighting fixtures."

As Rojas puts it, "[t]he front porch is where the Latinos express their cultural identity through use, design, and celebration especially in areas of US Southwest. These makes the Latino front porch an enduring and salient space in the American urban and suburban landscape."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 in Project for Public Spaces blog

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