Week 143: Los Angeles State Historic Park

August 26, 2018

L.A. Walks: Explore the New Historic Park outside DTLA, 1.5 miles


Barbara and I hiked a lot of parks in L.A. but this is the first one we explored in its youth. We followed the hike Charles Fleming posted in the Los Angeles Times May 17, 2017 issue, shortly after the Los Angeles State Historic Park officially opened in April 2017. How can a new park earn the moniker "historic"? Marry the setting to the past, add contemporary heroes, and create a beautiful environment for generations to come. The long, open, 34-acre space between Spring Street and the Metro Gold Line tracks at Chinatown, SE of Elysian Park, has a deep historic past: 10,000 years ago, Tonga people occupied villages surrounding this land, once a valley of wild roses and grapevines by the nearby (now Los Angeles) river. In 1781, the Spanish founded the settlement that became Los Angeles, a mile from this site. The park borders an ancient brick pipeline, part of the Zanja Madre, the original aqueduct that delivered fresh water from the L.A. River to downtown. From 1876-1901, the Southern Pacific Railroad's River Station, built on this land, was the "Ellis Island" and cargo hub of L.A. In 1938, Chinatown relocated to the area across the tracks. In 2001, contemporary heroes—a coalition of neighborhood groups—succeeded in stopping development plans for a warehouse complex on this site, winning the sale and transfer of the land to the California State Parks and pulling off "one of the most significant environmental justice victories in Los Angeles and a testament to the power of grassroots activism."  The flora, including oak trees, cactus, California poppies, and a grove of citrus trees in steel barrels, is impeccably landscaped along the stone paths and a wooden bridge over the dry arroyo. A pedestrian bridge spans above a memorial to the old railroad "roundabout" site and over wide open spaces for kite pilots, tai chi and yoga practitioners, two and four-legged frisbee players, concerts, picnics—you name it. A one-mile jogging path circles the pea-pod shaped park for a smooth, flat run/walk around nature framed by the downtown L.A. skyline. LASHP has been called the "Central Park" of L.A.—aspirational right now—but what a treat to stroll these grounds, imagining how the youthful trees will grow to provide shade and respite. If you have kids or grandkids, take them a Saturday or Sunday morning trip to Los Angeles State Historical Park (and stop for lunch in Chinatown, walking distance away!) and get tons of photos. In 50 years, they can tell their kids that they visited this historic site when they and the park were in their youth. It's utterly loverly!










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1 comments

  1. Beautiful! And so cool to see it in its infancy.

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