In Chinatown and its surrounding areas, change is constant. From big shifts within the neighborhood itself to the coming and going of ethnic neighborhoods, the evolution of the city often began here, and it continues to this day.
Los Angeles State Historic Park is no different. Located at the edge of Chinatown, it has come a long way since its days as an abandoned rail yard just a decade ago. As a 32-acre open space in the dense downtown area it's an expansive "symbol of hope" that kicked off the urban greening movement in Los Angeles.
But the park is still a work in progress. A little less than half of the site has been developed so far, with the rest to be transformed in the next few years. (See this Green Justice column for an excellent overview of the park and its future.)
In the meantime, in order to pay the bills the park is being rented out for private special events. L.A. Downtown News reports that due to decreased funding from the state and increasing costs for maintenance, the park is turning to alternative ways to keep the grounds in the green. Several music festivals are planned for this summer, including Univision's H2O Festival headlined by Snoop Dogg and Ozomatli, and the controversial electronic Hard Summer Festival. It has yet to be announced whether the mini-Coachella-esque FYF Festival will return to the site this year.
In the article, Sean Woods, a California State Parks superintendent, is quoted as saying, "What we're really trying to do here is pay for the operation and keep the park open. Our main goal is to provide open space." He mentions plans for opening it up for weddings and private events, and even possibly getting corporate sponsorship. He estimates that special events will raise up to $400,000 this year, enough to cover most of the park's operating budget. (Hear our interview with Woods in which he provides an overview of the park.)
Is this a trend that will continue once the entire park is built out? Will this public space become private festival grounds in the heart of the city? No matter what it turns out to be, it will certainly be better utilized than just an abandoned cornfield.
Top: FYF Fest at L.A. State Historic Park, 2011. Photo by imayellowfellow used under a Creative Commons license.