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Mapping Our City: How Santa Ana Lives On in the Cyberworld

By Melanie Romero


There’s no doubt that, with the evolution of technology, our world has become much more attainable, and the stories that continue to be told on paper have now transitioned to live online. And, with LibroMobile’s art-driven mission in mind, the cooperative – collaborating with Crear Studio with local artists, Roger Eyes R. and Sarah Rafael García – created a live document titled Mapping Santa Ana, featuring beloved locations outside of the downtown area, in 2021. Coined as a “countermap” to tourist marketing, this digital archive interacts with a touch of a fingertip on any mobile device; as well, the artists created a pocket-sized foldable map that includes a QR code that can be scanned to lead to the project on the site.

Image by LibroMobile

This project is part of LMAC Digital Archives: Cultivating Digital Pasts, Presentes & Futures For-and-By Our Diverse Communities. The Digital Humanities (DH) is considered a community activity that invites collaboration and communication in the form of advisors (16+) through the provision of “technological tools, virtual applications, workspace and one-on-one tutorials as well as collaborative workshops.” With this community-led program, Mapping Santa Ana came to be, taking viewers through Santa Ana wonders from the perspective of two local BIPOC creators.

To further spotlight the artists behind this impressive undertaking, it’s pertinent to know what they’ve done for their community outside of A Storymap of Santa Ana. Raised in Santa Ana, Roger Eyes R. identifies as a teaching artist, painter, muralist, illustrator, designer, sculptor, and art nerd! Back in 2010, he centralized his art to begin including Santa Ana; four years later, his work within the community was lauded, especially as a member – and then lead artists and workshop facilitator – for the Santa Ana Community Artista Coalition (many of their art pieces make a feature in the storymap). Now, Roger is an art instructor at the Orange County’s Children’s Therapeutic Art Center, teaching little ones and older kids the beauty behind the art. As for Sarah Rafael García, she is a dedicated Arts Leader in Orange County; she’s founded Barrio Writers, LibroMobile, and Crear Studio, all of which are community-driven art programs initiated as a response to honor and support BIPOC folks in the community. She is the Crear Studio gallery director and a 2021 Arcus Fellow, and she’s going nowhere but up.

Image by LibroMobile

The interactive storymap is extremely user-friendly! On the homepage of the project, on the left side, viewers see a black-and-white, street-by-street map of Santa Ana with colorful icons pinpointed as physical locations. On the right side, it consists of a short description of how the project came to be, an insight into what the creators do, and the hopes the artists have for the legacy of this live project. A vibrant mock-up of an animated Downtown Santa Ana sits tenderly over the main description.

Image by LibroMobile

Then, viewers can click the arrow on the right side of the page. The live map takes viewers through a planned-out chronological slideshow (but you can go back to a location at any time!) of historical Santa Ana locations, designed with photographs and a brief description. The chronological list of Santa Locations are as follows:

  • Santa Ana Water Tower

  • Heroes Among Us by Carlos Aguilar, 2016

  • Logan Barrio & Chepa’s Park

  • Islamic Center of Santa Ana

  • Ebell Club of Santa Ana

  • St. Joseph’s Church

  • Santa Ana Public Library

  • Alex Odeh Statue

  • Dr. Howe-Waffle House and Medical Museum

  • Old Orange County Court House

  • The Green Parrots of Santa Ana by Marina Aguilera, 2018

  • Yost Theater

  • Santa Ana’s Chinatown

  • I Am Here…Here to Stay by Marina Aguilera, 2020

  • Viva Santa Ana by Santa Ana Community Artist(a) Coalition, 2016

  • Lynching of Francisco Torres

  • Brunswick Hotel

  • La Madre Naturaleza/Mother Nature by Santa Ana Community Artist(a) Coalition, 2013

  • The Santora

  • Grand Central Building

  • Artists Village Apartment

  • Black Panther Park/Sasscer Park

  • Prince Hall Masonic Temple

  • Johnson Chapel

  • Bristol Swap Mall

  • Lotería Card No. 1 and Lotería Card No. 2 by Jose Lozano and Roger Eyes R., 2023

  • Recuerdos de Mi Pueblo by Emigdio Vasquez, 1990

  • Chicano Gothic by Emigdio Vasquez, 1987

  • Gay Kiss at Centennial Park

  • Chicano Power Protests at El Salvador Park

  • The Legacy of Cesar Chavez by Emigdio Vasquez, 1997

  • History and Evolution of the Chicano in the United States by Sergio O’Cadiz Moctezuma, 1974

  • Bowers Museum

But, keep in mind: the list above is non-exhausting! As the creators continue to add locations to the digital map, its expansion promises the preservation of Santa Ana’s history in cyberspace. It also defines the storymap project as a “live” document, an evergreen venture that is repeatedly edited and updated as the ebb and flow of geographic changes in the community continue onward. Not to mention, with leadership from the creators, listed research contributors mentioned throughout the storymap are usually college interns and/or young scholars giving a helping hand.

Whether you’re a Santa Ana native, an Orange County local, or just a curious lover of all things history, Mapping Santa Ana is meant for anyone willing to educate themselves on what the city means and how its legacy lives on within their community. Roger and Sarah created this live archive as a way to showcase all the areas within the city they proudly call home, and they pass the torch to its viewers to read about both the hidden gems that make Santa Ana shine a little brighter against all its neighboring cities.


Melanie Romero is a trilingual writer born and raised in Orange, CA. It was during childhood weekend trips to Randy’s $1-a-book stall at the OC Market Place that she discovered a passion for reading and, eventually, writing. Today, she serves as Editor at Lil’ Libros and has written two children’s books, Amor de colores and J is for Janucá under the publisher. In her free time, she can be found indulging in challah and getting lost among the shelves of independent bookstores.


Starting February 2023, #OffThePage is featuring Melanie Romero as our monthly columnist. Our Arts & Culture column was initially founded by local journalist Gabriel San Román in May 2020. Since then we have collaboratively featured over 25 stories and paid nearly 10 contributors from our community. Pitch Melanie a story or email us for more information!


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