Week 266: Lincoln Heights

May 29, 2022

 Weekend Sherpa: LArt Walk, 3.4 miles.

An email from Weekend Sherpa intrigued Barbara and me enough to change our focus from trails to sidewalks for today's hike through the Historic Preservation Overlay Zone of Lincoln Heights, NE of DTLA, and east of Dodger Stadium and Chinatown. We imagined art, we got loads of LA history dating back to the 1870s and the Industrial Revolution. Back then, Los Angeles was in the midst of a population boom that grew from 5,728 in 1870 to 50,935 in 1890. Lincoln Park (originally Eastlake Park), was part of the 2000-acre parcel of ranch land east of the LA River that John Strother Griffin bought for $1000 in 1870, a portion of the original Spanish El Pueblo de Los Angeles land grant. Griffin gifted the 50-acre land that became the park to the City of Los Angeles. He divided the remaining land into the lots that became East Los Angeles—"LA's first suburb" or the "bedroom of the Pueblo," carved out as the city's first industrial corridor east of the river, with middle-class Fold Victorian homes built by the owners or by Native American slaves from the San Gabriel Mission. East Los Angeles (renamed Lincoln Heights in 1917) featured LA's first horse-drawn streetcar for commuters to cross the river to get to work. In 1874, Los Angeles gave the parkland (pretty much just dirt) and $600K to the Southern Pacific RR when the RR threatened to bypass LA unless the city paid them a ransom. SoPac built their tracks across the street, but did nothing with the land and gave it back to LA in 1886. By 1892, Eastlake Park had grown into a garden-like resort "the crown jewel of the LA park system," with an artificial lake and LA's first city zoo complete with an ostrich farm. Barbara and I parked at Eastlake Park (renamed Lincoln Park in 1917) and started to hike N around the small lake, passing a multi-species blend of geese, ducks, herons, herring gulls, egrets, Egyptian geese, and turtles—all pretty much bored by our presence. Across the lake, the original 1912 boat house now houses Plaza de la Raza, founded in 1970 by actress Margo Albert and trade union activist Frank Lopez as a cultural enrichment space with after school programs in arts education and theater. On the west side of the park, we circled through the 2004 Wall Las Memorias—eight wall panels, six murals, and granite panels with names of individuals who died from AIDS. This gorgeous memorial was the first publicly funded AIDS monument in the US. The signature Lincoln Park Gateway, constructed in Classical Moderne/Art Deco style was completed in 1933 during the Depression and borders Mission Road on the west end of the park. Still in the park, we headed to the SW end and came to an incredible display of sculptures. The first two, Florence Nightingale and Abraham Lincoln were installed in 1937 as part of the Depression-era WPA Federal Art Project. At the SW corner of the park, we came upon El Parque de Mexico, a 1981 civic shrine to the greatness, history, and culture of the Mexican people to promote the cultural heritage of the Mexican American community of LA to demonstrate good will between the US and Mexico. A great reminder that California and Los Angeles were part of Spain then Mexico long before the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and 1850 California statehood. Check the photos below for just some of the statues! Barbara and I left the park to find the second "art" project in Weekend Sherpa's article, but instead of walking down Main Street, we walked south on Mission, passing the very cool building that houses the LA County Coroner's Office that backs to the LAC & USC Medical Center. We found our way to the Brewery Artist Lofts, the "world's largest art complex" that opened in 1982 on the grounds of the former Pabst Blue Ribbon Brewery. We hoped we could get in and maybe catch an open restaurant or art installation early on a Sunday morning, but, alas, the 16-acre, 310 loft complex was guarded and gated. Apparently the painters, performance artists, sculptors, tattoo artists, taxidermists, et al. who live there exist in a protected environment, with no dogs, no musical instruments, and no random hikers. Whatever. The photos looked amazing and we're sorry we missed a view. On the way back to Lincoln Park we passed another installation, the prancing "Caballo Diablo" and a marker for CA Historic Rte 99, the "main street of California," important thought the 1930s as a paved route for Dust Bowl immigrant farm workers to journey through the state. One last trek through Lincoln Park got us back to the car—filled with more history than we had expected! The park itself, a reminder of where LA has been and where it has gone in over 150 years, is worth a tour.






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