Just across the street from Union Station is El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Park, which houses Olvera Street and other landmarks important to LA history. I’ve already been to Olvera Street so many times before, and I have even written about it once on this blog, but did you know that there is more to see outside of that little road of vendors?
For this leg of the field trip, we were split up into two groups, each led by a docent who knew a lot about the area. Two of the first things that our docent explained were the statues of King Carlos III and Felipe De Neve which stand on opposite sides of the plaza. King Carlos III from Spain was the person responsible for creating the system of missions, presidios, and pueblos and Felipe De Neve was the founder of El Pueblo de Los Angeles and former governor of Las Californias.
Near these statues is the Los Pobladores plaque featuring a list of the 44 people (11 families made up of 22 adults and 22 children) who made the trek to eventually settle in what would become Los Angeles. Besides simply listing the names of the settlers, the plaque also makes a reference to each person’s race, using terms such as “mulato”, “indio”, “negro”, and “espanol”. Our docent mentioned that this list could have been even more diverse since a Filipino family was also on the trip, but they ended up dying of smallpox. Womp womp.
Rather than go straight into Olvera Street, we went in the opposite direction to look at the Pico House, an old luxury hotel named for Pio Pico, the last Mexican governor of Alto California. Nearby is the notable Garnier Building. Today, it houses the Chinese American Museum, but before, it was part of Old Chinatown and was leased by French owner Philippe Garnier to Chinese merchants. In 1852, there were only two Chinese people living in Los Angeles, but those numbers began to rise rapidly. In 1860, there were sixteen. In 1870, there were twenty-three. By 1890, there were already 4,424. Today, Chinese-Americans make up the largest percent of Asians in the county, state, and nation.
The docent brought us through Olvera Street and spoke a little but about the América Tropical mural and the Zanja Madre aqueduct before ending at the Avila Adobe. Afterwards, we all had some time to do some more exploring before meeting up again to continue the adventure.
There goes Part 2! Parts 3, 4, and 5 are still to come.
DTLA Tour Series:
Part 1 – Union Station
Part 2 – El Pueblo de Los Angeles
Part 3 – Bradbury Building
Part 4 – Grand Central Market and Angels Flight
Part 5 – Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and Chinatown