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Lincoln Heights Jail

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The Lincoln Heights Jail, overlooking the River and railroad tracks, was once a spot for prisoners to be incarcerated since the historic days of the Gold Rush in California. In 1931, the old jail buildings were demolished to make room for the new Lincoln Heights Jail and a central police station. The new jail, constructed in Art Deco architectural style, could hold 625 prisoners. It was open for business in December 1931. By the early 1950s, it expanded with another Bauhaus addition. At its peak, it crammed about 2,800 inmates at a time. Both infamous and notables alike served their time, including Al Capone, Zoot Suit rioters, and Watts rioters - who clocked in jail time right before Lincoln Heights Jail was decommissioned in 1965. The dark and dinginess of the site has also made it on the big screen; its architecture and history has earned the site the status of Historical Cultural Monument. The site is within the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan, provides easy access to the Los Angeles River, adjacent to the Metro Gold and provides an opportunity for cultural open public space, enriched with a thrilling story of Los Angeles' past.

Located within the CASP, this site has huge potential for adaptive reuse. Owned by the City, the future use of this building will serve as a catalytic project for the area, especially as it sits along the River. Local community and economic development organizations, along with financial intermediaries, have considered uses such as a historic museum, community college campus, rock climbing facility, rooftop garden, or residential lofts.


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