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El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument

All photographs taken by Kenneth A. Larson. All rights reserved. © 2004 - 2017.


El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument is where the great City of Los Angeles began. On Wednesday, August 2, 1769, the Portola expedition, which was the first European land expedition through California, while marching to Monterey Bay to establish a Spanish claim to Alta California, camped along a River. They named the river El Rio de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de la Porciuncula in recognition of the Jubilee of Our Lady of Los Angeles of the Porciuncula which was observed the previous day. Father Juan Crespi, a Franciscan priest accompanying the expidition, described in his journal a "beautiful river from the northwest" located at "34 degrees 10 minutes." In 1781, a new settlement was established along that river and came to be known as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciúncula or The Town of Our Lady the Queen of Angels of the Little Portion, although its official name was simply El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles. Today, the City is known as Los Angeles which is Spanish for The Angels and the river is simply named, the Los Angeles River.

El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument is near the site of the early Los Angeles Pueblo where forty-four settlers of Native American, African, and European heritage established a farming community in 1781, in an area inhabited by friendly Native American Indians. Under the orders of King Carlos III of Spain, the pueblo was founded to grow food for the soldiers guarding this far-off territory of Spain. As the town grew and prospered, retired soldiers were given large portions of land on which to graze their cattle. In 1821 Mexico declared her independence from Spain. Successive governors of Alta California gave additional land grants to other settlers including new arrivals from Europe and the east coast of America. They joined the Californios in becoming ranchers, merchants, and winemakers.

The Mexican American War began in 1846 and United States troops took Los Angeles the following year. The town maintained its customs and traditions, but as the population grew, the professional heart of the city gradually moved southwards. The old landowners who had owned houses around the plaza moved away, new buildings were constructed, and the area gradually changed to light industrial and business use. Changes brought in new settlers and the east side of the Plaza became the heart of the city's first Chinatown. French and Italian settlers also arrived in large numbers. Despite this activity, the former pueblo area began a gradual decline becoming a slum soon after the turn of the century.

Christine Sterling recognized the value of the old historic buildings and the Spanish and Mexican heritage of the City. Through Ms. Sterling's efforts, the Avila Adobe, was rescued from demolition and became the focal point of Olvera Street. Olvera Street was named after the first County Judge, Agustin Olvera, in 1877. Converted to a colorful Mexican market place in 1930, Olvera Street is also the setting for holiday celebrations and Mexican style dancing and music. Most of the Historical Monument occupise two blocks.

In 1953 a strong effort to preserve the oldest and most historic section of the city resulted in the creation of a state historic park. The State of California and the County and City of Los Angeles jointly purchased the buildings and sites around the plaza. The Plaza reflected the heritage of many ethnic groups, Hispanic, Black, Chinese, French, Italian and Anglo who contributed to the history of the city. In 1989, because of the difficulty in two government agencies jointly operating a state historic park in the heart of the city, an act was passed turning the Park over to the City of Los Angeles. Now the Monument, as it is called, is a run by the City of Los Angeles. Plans exist to restore and develop the historic buildings and to bring more people and opportunities to the area. Of the Monument's twenty-seven historic buildings, eleven are open to the public in some form on another; several are restored as museums, making a range of architectural styles from an Adobe dwelling of 1818 to a Spanish style church of 1926. Museums include: Avila Adobe, Fire House, Chinese American, Italian American, Sepulveda House & American Tropical, Pico House (sometimes shows exhibits), El Pueblo Gallery, La Plaza de Cultural y Artes, Museum of Social Justice. In its history, Los Angeles has been under the flags of three nations, Spain, Mexico and the U.S.

Museums and Buildings

Admission to the museums are mostly free or with a small donation. Most of the museums have hours of 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM or 4:00 PMThe museum hours are:

Avila Adobe: This adobe house was built in 1818 by Don Francisco Avila, alcalde (mayor) of Los Angeles in 1810. Used as Commodore Robert Stockton's headquarters in 1847, the adobe also served as a boarding house and restaurant. It was repaired by private subscription in 1929-30 when Olvera Street was opened as a Mexican marketplace. It is the oldest existing house in Los Angeles. It was again restored after the 1971 Sylmar earthquake. The Avila Adobe now reflects the Hispanic lifestyle of California in the 1840s. A narrow passage to the right of the adobe leads to a courtyard. The coartyard has flowers, cactus, and a caretta. At the front of the courtyard is the entrance to the adobe and in the back, is a museum builidng.
Location: El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, Olvera St, Los Angeles, about midway on the east side.
Open: summer: daily, 9 am. to 5: pm; winter: daily, 10 am to 4 pm.

Sepulveda House: In 1887 Senora Eloisa Martinez de Sepulveda built a two story Eastlake style Victorian business and residential block on her property between Main and Olvera Streets. The Sepulveda House represents, both architecturally and socially, the transformation of Los Angeles from purely Mexican traditions to a combination of Mexican and Anglo culture.
Location: El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, Plaza.
Open Daily (except Sundays) 10 am to 3 pm Monday to Saturday.

Fire House Museum: The Old Plaza Firehouse was built in 1884 as the first building constructed as a fire station in Los Angeles. It served as a firehouse until 1897. After this it was used for various purposes, a saloon, lodging house, and store. The Museum is dedicated to the firemen of the Los Angeles Fire Department-past, present, and future who have protected the lives and property of the citizens of Los Angeles since 1871. It now displays firefighting memorabilia from the nineteen century. Restored in 1960 and opened as a museum of fire-fighting equipment of the late 19th century.
Location: El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, 501 N Los Angeles St, on the Plaza.
Open Tuesday to Sunday (except Mondays)10 am to 3 pm.

Masonic Hall: The city's first Masonic Hall (1858) continues to serve as a meeting place for lodge members and as a museum of the Order of Free Masons and Lodge 42.
Open Tuesday to Friday 10 am to 3 pm.

La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles-the Church of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels ( construction 1818-22) was dedicated on December 8, 1822 during California's Mexican era. Originally known as La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles, the church was the only Catholic church for the pueblo. It is oldest church in the city. Our Lady Queen of Angels (Old Plaza) Catholic Church serves primarily the Hispanic population of Los Angeles as an active church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. On almost any Saturday, the patio outside the church is filled with families baptizing their babies.
Location: 535 N Main St near Macy St, Los Angeles.
Open Daily

Los Angeles Plaza - (La Placita) c. 1825. Formerly the town square, the Plaza area was landscaped and given its circular form in the 1870s. A part of the original pueblo lands, the plaza is located close to the site of the original plaza. It was the center of the settlement founded by Governor Felipe de Neve. When the Plaza Church was completed in 1822, this site was reserved as a public plaza. It was landscaped in 1871 and has served since that date as a public park.
Location: El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, 500 block of N Main St, Los Angeles.
Open Daily

Olvera Street 1930. The world-famous street was closed to vehicular traffic and made into a Mexican marketplace through the efforts of Christine Sterling and others in 1930
Open Daily 10:00-8:00.

There are a number of phone numbers: Tour information: 213-628-1274 or 213-485-8437 Administrative offices: 213-485-6855

North corner.

Plaque to El Ediricio Jones.

La Casa Sepulveda.

Compo Santo Cemetery


Compo Santo Cemetery
La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles Cemetery.
First recorded burial took place January 6, 1823. The last known burial was November 8, 1844. Approximately 693 early residents. 1822-1844

Mission Nuestra Senora Reina de Los Angeles

Mission Nuestra Senora Reina de Los Angeles began as an asistencia to Mission San Gabriel.


The Plaza

Native American Dance
Native American dance. Photo date: 9-4-04.
Native American Dance
Native American dance. Photo date: 9-4-04.
Native American Dance
Native American dance. Photo date: 9-4-04.
Native American Dance
Native American dance. Photo date: 12-20-14.
Statue of Felipe de Neve, 1728-1784, Spanish Governor of the Californias 1775-82. In 1781, Felipe de Neve selected a site near the River Porciuncula and laid out a new town, El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles.
Carlos III, 1759-1788, ordered the founding of El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles in1781.

Plaque on the origin of Los Angeles.
Gazebo
Photo date: 1-5-93.
Gazebo
Photo date: 2-9-77.
Gazebo in the Plaza.
Light Post
Light Post in Plaza. Photo date: 1-5-93.
Gazebo Gazebo
Gazebo in the Plaza. Photo date: 9-4-04.
Gazebo in the Plaza. Photo date: 7-14-07.

Gazebo with Nativity
Gazebo with Nativity
Gazebo with Nativity

Surrounding Plaza


Father Serra.
This recreation of the Bell of Dolores, a bell that was run to launch the Mexican war of independence in 1810 (September 15, 1810, 11:00 pm). The bell was rung by Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla. The bell was presented to the City of Los Angeles by the Republic of Mexico in 1968.
Pascual Antonio Aguilar Barraza, AKA, "El Charro de Mexico" (The Mexican Cowboy. He was born May 17, 1919 in the City of Villanueve, Zacateces, Mexico. He was a prolific actor and singer making 167 movies and recorded over 150 albums and was a symbol of the Mexican charro culture.
Mural to the Mexican war of Independence about 1812-1820. It is located east of Olvera Street and often goes unnoticed.
Mural to the Mexican war of Independence about 1812-1820. It is located east of Olvera Street and often goes unnoticed.

Pico House

Pico House, built 1869-1870. Pio Pico was so confident in this hotel that he sold his vast land holdings in the San Fernando Valley to raise the money to build what was then the "finest hotel in Southern California." Unfortunately, Pico lost the gamble and lost the hotel to foreclosure in 1880. It was the city's first three-story building and was designed by Ezra F. Kysor. The Italianate style exterior was stuccoed to look like blue marble. The interior was elegant with a french restaurant, twenty-one parlors, and eighty-two rooms. It operated as the National Hotel from 1892 - 1920 and was restored in the 1960s (exterior) and 1980-1981 (interior). Today it sometimes houses cultural events.
The Pico House was built by Pio Pico, last Mexican Governor of California.
To raise money to build the hotel, Pico sold large land holdings in the San Fernando Valley.

Masonic Hall

The Masonic Hall, 1858. Built by Perry and Brady of brick and stucco. The upper level was a meeting hall for Lodge 42 Free and Accepted Masons. The lower level was a furniture store operated by Perry and Woodworth who were Masons. In 1868, Lodge 42 moved away. The building was restored in 1962, the hall is now the meeting hall for Los Angeles City Lodge 814 and contains a small museum of the history of the Masons in Los Angeles. This is the oldest building south of the Plaza and the facade was updated in the 1870s to blend with the neighbors.

Plaza Fire House Museum

The Plaza Firehouse is the oldest firehouse in Los Angeles, built in 1884. Prior to 1869, Los Angeles had no fire department of fire fighting equipment in a town built mostly of adobe and brick. In 1869, a volunteer fire department was formed and the City established a Counsel Committee of Fire and Water which contracted with the Water Company to install hydrants. Two years later a Fire Department was formed with volunteer fire fighters and in 1872 the Council purchased an Amoskeag steam fire engine and a hose cart. George P. McCain was the first paid employee. A new volunteer company was formed in 1874 after the original resigned because the council wouldn't buy horses to pull the engine. This new group of 38 was called the "Volunteer 38s" and their foreman, Charles E. Miles persuaded the Council to buy a ladder truck and the next year, a pair of horses. A second volunteer company, "Confidence Number 2," was formed and the two would compete to see which would arrive at a fire first. Charles Miles became the first Chief Engineer about 1876.

Walter S. Moore became Chief Engineer and later (1882) was elected to the City Council where he later convince the Council of the need for a new firehouse to be built on the Plaza. The Plaza Firehouse was the first building constructed by the City of Los Angeles for the purpose of housing fire fighting equipment and personnel. The structure was designed by William Boring and built by Dennis Hennessy. Construction began in May of 1884, completed in mid-August, and it began operations in September of the same year as Firehouse #1. The personnel housed here were the 38s. In December of 1885 the first paid Fire Department was established with Moore as Chief. A new engine company, "Walter S. Moore Company #4," was replaced the 38s. The new crew began service on February 1, 1886.

The design was common with houses stabled toward the rear of the station with the wagon in front. The men lived upstairs. Following an alarm, the men would slide down a pole, a chain would drop and the horses would move forward to be hitched to the wagon with harnesses that would drop on their backs from above. After returning, a turn table on the floor allowed the wagon to be driven in and turned forward to face the door. A hayloft above the stales made feeding easy. An alarm box connected to alarm buttons all over town would alert them to the location of the fire.

Eventually ownership of the property on which the firehouse was built was disputed and the firehouse passed to Mrs. L. M. Bigelow and Griffin Johnson who offered to rent it to the city for a high price which was declined. A year later, a five year lease at a more reasonable price was negotiated and Chemical Company Number 1 moved into the firehouse in October 1892. The way the chemical engine worked was at the scene of the fire, sulfuric acid and added to two cylinders holding fifty gallons of water and bicarbonate of soda. The result was carbon dioxide under pressure which would pump the water. The lease was not renewed in 1897 and the building changed use.

The original China Town had developed around the building. Over the next sixty years, the building was used as a saloon, boarding house, cigar store, poolroom, a house of ill repute, vegetable market, and drug store. The State of California and the City and County of Los Angeles established El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Park in 1953 and purchased the firehouse on December 5, 1954. The State Division of Architecture restored the building (the first Plaza building to be restored) which reopened on October 1, 1960 as a museum. The building was dedicated as California Historical Landmark Number 730.

The firehouse is located at the south corner of the Plaza at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument just east of Down Town between North Los Angeles and North Main Streets and Arcadia Street and Cesar E Chavez Avenue. There is no official address, but you can use the address for the entire park (office a few steps from the Firehouse) which is:

Location:
125 Paseo de la Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90012
www.elpueblo.lacity.org
Information 213-628-1274 or 213-485-8437
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10:00 AM-3:00 PM
Free admission
Firehouse
Firehouse.
Firehouse.





Brunswic Building and Pico House.






Chinese American Museum

The Museum is housed in the Garnier building, the oldest surviving Chinese building in Southern California and an adjacent building.
Chinese American Museum
Chinese American Museum. Photo date: 9-4-04.
Chinese American Museum
Chinese American Museum. Photo date: 9-4-04.
Vickrey/Brunswig Building 1888
Vickrey/Brunswig Building 1888. Photo date: 11-18-95.
Vickrey/Brunswig Building 1888
Vickrey/Brunswig Building 1888. Photo date: 9-4-04.

back side of Vickrey/Brunswig Building and Carnier Block building, July 14, 2007.

La Plaza de Cultura y Artes

Italian American Museum, Los Angeles

The Italian American Museum of Los Angeles is located in the Italian Hall and opened in August of 2016. The building that was the Italian Hall was constructed in 1908 in the heart of the Italian enclave in Los Angeles and is the oldest remaining building from the original Little Italy. The Italian community stopped using the building in the 1950s but when the building was threatened, the Italian American returned to preserve and restore the building and create the Museum.

National Register of historic Places

Exterior of Italian American Museum, Los Angeles.

Exterior of Italian American Museum, Los Angeles.

Light fixture in the lobby.




Plaza Methodist Church

Plaza Methodist Church
Plaza Methodist Church. Photo date: 9-4-04.
Plaza Methodist Church
Plaza Methodist Church. Photo date: 9-4-04.
Tower.
Plaza Methodist Church
Plaza Methodist Church. Photo date: 1-5-93.
Plaza Methodist Church
Plaza Methodist Church. Photo date: 1-5-93.


Tower.

Interior.
In the basement of the Plaza Methodist Church is The Museum of Social Justice. When this author visited in August of 2016, the Museum was running an exhibit on Katherine Higgins who founded Goodwill of Southern California.

Hours: 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM, daily

Address is:
115 Paseo de la Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90012
213-613-1096
www.museumofsocialjustice.org
Museum Social Justice is in the basement of the Plaza Methodist Church.

Olvera Street

Olvera Street, early, before opening.


Setting up the Photo donkey in the morning.
West Entrance to Olvera Street
West entrance to Olvera Street. Photo date: 1-5-93.
West Entrance to Olvera Street
West entrance to Olvera Street. Photo date: 5-17-03.
Olvera Street Opening
Opening shops at Olvera Street. Photo date: 5-17-03.
Olvera Street Opening
Opening shops at Olvera Street. Photo date: 5-17-03.
Olvera Street Opening
Opening shops at Olvera Street. Photo date: 9-4-04.
Olvera Street Opening
Opening shops at Olvera Street. Photo date: 9-4-04.
Olvera Street Opening
Opening shops at Olvera Street. Photo date: 9-4-04.
Olvera Street Opening
Opening shops at Olvera Street. Photo date: 9-4-04.
Native American Dance
Native American dance. Photo date: 11-18-95.
Native American Dance
Native American dance. Photo date: 11-18-95.

Photo date: 1-5-93.

Photo date: 1-5-93.

Photo date: 1-5-93.

Photo date: 1-5-93.

Photo date: 1-5-93.

Photo date: 1-5-93.

Photo date: 4-29-00.

Photo date: 9-4-04.

Photo date: 9-4-04.

Photo date: 9-4-04.

Photo date: 9-4-04.

Well.
Grape Vines
Grape Vines. Photo date: 9-4-04.

Grape Vines.

Photo date: 9-4-04.
Olvera Street East Entrance
Olvera Street East Entrance. Photo date: 9-4-04.


Pelanconi House, first brick building in Los Angeles in 1850, now La Golondrina Cafe.
La Golondrina Café and Historic Landmark.

W-17 Olvera Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

213-628-4349
La Golondrina Cafe interior.

La Golondrina Cafe unused back side.



La Luz del Dia Restaurant, exterior.

La Luz del Dia Restaurant, interior.

La Luz del Dia Restaurant, exterior.

Simpson-Jones Building, now La Luz del Dia Restaurant.

Taco and Tamalli.

Tastada.

Avila Adobe

Avila Adobe, 1818
Avila Adobe, 1818. Photo Date: 9-4-04.
Entrance to Avila Adobe
Entrance to Avila Adobe. Photo Date: 9-4-04.
Avila Adobe, 1818, Interior
Avila Adobe, 1818, interior. Photo date: 11-18-95.
Avila Adobe, 1818, Interior
Avila Adobe, 1818, interior. Photo Date: 9-4-04.
Avila Adobe, 1818, Interior
Avila Adobe, 1818, interior. Photo Date: 9-4-04.
Avila Adobe, 1818, Interior
Avila Adobe, 1818, interior. Photo Date: 9-4-04.




Grape Vines in Avila Adobe Courtyard
Grape vines in Avila Adobe courtyard. Photo Date: 9-4-04.
Grape Vines in Avila Adobe Courtyard
Grape vines in Avila Adobe courtyard. Photo Date: 9-4-04.
Grape Vines in Avila Adobe Courtyard
Grape vines in Avila Adobe courtyard. Photo Date: 9-4-04.
Grape Vines in Avila Adobe Courtyard
Grape vines in Avila Adobe courtyard. Photo Date: 9-4-04.
Cactus in Avila Adobe Courtyard
Cactus in Avila Adobe courtyard. Photo Date: 9-4-04.
Cactus in Avila Adobe Courtyard
Cactus in Avila Adobe courtyard. Photo Date: 9-4-04.
Cactus in Avila Adobe Courtyard
Cactus in Avila Adobe courtyard. Photo Date: 9-4-04.

Siqueiros Mural & América Tropical Interpretive Center

Siqueiros Mural & América Tropical Interpretive Center

América Tropical
painted in 1932 (premiered October 9, 1932) by Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros.
Siqueiros believed that motion was a defining characteristic of the modern age. He incorporated moving into his stattic paintings.
He was innovative in using photography and projects as tools in defining his murals.
Four muralist artists: Los Tres Grandes, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco.

The controversial mural was whitewashed within 18 months of it's unvieling to hide it forever. You can new see it again.
By 1968, the whitewash was startign to thin and reveal the mural. Although the mural had suffered, efforts begun in 1988 to protect and expose the work. It opened to the public in 2012.

The exhibit explains the story of Siqueiros and his mural.
Hours Tuesday - Sunday, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm.



On July 31, 1847, the Ayuntamiento (or Common Council) granted title to Senora (tilde over n) Francisca Gallardo of a lot north of the Plaza between Bath Street and Vine (later renamed Olvera) Street. The grant was provisional that a house be built within one year so a one-story flat-roofed adobe was built. By 1870, the house had been expanded to a two-story structure with a hip-roof. In 1881, the house was deeded to Senora (~ over the n) Eloisa Martinez de Sepulveda, daughter of Francisca.

In 1886, Bath Street was widened and renamed North Man street and to accommodate the widening, eighteen feet of the property and part of the original adobe were lost. Senora (~ over the n) Sepulveda was compensated for the loss and used the money in 1887 to construct a new building on the site, designed by George F. Costerisan and William O. Merithew, in the Eastlake Victorian style (the only Eastlake Victorian building in the historic park). The new building extended from Main to Olvera and contained twenty-two rooms and two stores facing Main and three rooms facing Olvera. The second floor had fourteen bedrooms for boarding along a central hallway lit by skylights with no windows on the north or south side. There was a common bathroom. The new building bridged the transformation of the city from Mexican to American cultures.

Senora (~ over the n) Sepulveda continued living in the building until her death in 1903, even after deeding it to her niece Eloisa Martin de Gibbs in 1901. Commercial activities were starting to move south and west and the building became less of a commercial success. The building was revitalized with the development of Olvera Street as we know it today with shops on the first floor and basement and various uses on the second floor. The building was sold to the state in 1958. In 1972, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today the is a museum.

Visitor Center, gift shop, and exhibits occupy the building.



Other Buildings


Photo date: 11-18-95.

Photo date: 11-18-95.
Turner Building, 1960, Architect Burnett C. Turner. Built as part of a rehabilitation of the Pico-Garner Block to be a service building.

Los Angeles Birthdays

The 223 birthday is in 2004

Los Angeles 223rd Birthday
Los Angeles 223rd Birthday. Photo Date: 9-4-04.
Los Angeles 223rd Birthday
Los Angeles 223rd Birthday. Photo Date: 9-4-04.
Los Angeles 223rd Birthday
Los Angeles 223rd Birthday. Photo Date: 9-4-04.

The 235 birthday is in 2016






Traditional dancers to celebrate the birthday.


Birthday cake.


Birthday cake.


Birthday cake.

Birthday cake.
River Rover educating about the Los Angeles River.

River Rover.

Smokey Bear.
Union RR Station from Plaza
Union RR Station from Plaza. Photo date: 1-5-93.


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This page last updated: Tuesday, 20-Jun-2017 10:21:21 EDT

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