Pico Union is an ethnically diverse, urban neighborhood located 1.7 miles from the Los Angeles Civic Center, and contiguous to Koreatown. In 1990, 37 percent of residents were of Central American origin, and Mexican-origin residents constituted most of the remainder of the population. In our 1999 sample, 26 percent had lived in the area for more than 10 years. The relatively low marriage rate reflects a young population, and the low incidence of health insurance (49 percent) was consistent with a high rate of employment as domestic and garment workers.
When the Metamorphosis Project returned to Pico Union in 2002 to gather a second round of data, the area was still predominantly Central American and Mexican-origin immigrants, although some of the demographics had changed. Forty seven percent had lived in the neighborhood for 10 or more years, and 47 percent were married or living with a partner. Forty percent of respondents had a high school diploma or higher level of education, and the sample was still relatively young: 50 percent were 35 years old or younger.