When L.A.'s Oldest Parks Were Young | KCET
When L.A.'s Oldest Parks Were Young
Park-poor Los Angeles: perhaps it's no surprise that many of the city's earliest parks were born of refuse lands. Flush with public land inherited from California's land grant days, Los Angeles was practically giving away real estate in the latter half of the nineteenth century, donating lots to private individuals or auctioning off tracts to fill the city's coffers. But some lands eluded buyers.
Some were wetlands – or, in the parlance of the time, swamps. One block of land, cut by the channel of the Arroyo de los Reyes, made a fine home for frogs but not, it was thought, for humans. It became the city's first park in 1866, known today as Pershing Square. To the west, a natural alkali lake made another tract of land unsalable. In 1887 the city refashioned it into Westlake Park, since renamed after General Douglas MacArthur.
Other land was considered too rugged for farming or settlement. In 1883, after the city failed to find a buyer for a 550-acre tract of steep hills and cavernous ravines northwest of the city, it turned the land into Elysian Park. Larger Griffith Park likewise owes its origins to its unsuitability for development. When Griffith J. Griffith donated the bulk of Rancho Los Feliz to the city in 1896, he kept the choicest, flattest parts for himself.
Repurposing unwanted land gave 19th-century Angelenos space for relaxation and recreation. And not all parkland was considered marginal; some was set aside to make new residential subdivisions more attractive, and the spirit of civic beautification doubtless inspired some donors. But today's paucity of parks – particularly pronounced in older, poorer neighborhoods – may be a legacy of the city's early failure to plan for public, green space in an effectively systematic way.
A series of posts about several of these parks will follow in the coming weeks. But for now, see Los Angeles' oldest parks in their youth through selected images from L.A. as Subject member collections. Judge for yourself whether they've aged well.
Dedicated in 1886.
Dedicated in 1886 as Westlake Park.
Dedicated in 1889.
St. James Park
Dedicated in 1891.
Dedicated in 1891.
Dedicated in 1892.
Dedicated in 1896 as Sunset Park.
Dedicated in 1896.
Dedicated in 1899.
The Public Media Group of Southern California honored with a total of nine Golden Mike awards, the most of any station in the region.
Troubling History Repeating? Art Examines Parallels Between Japanese American Internment and Today’s Migrants
Two new exhibitions explore the connection between World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans and the United States government’s more recent immigration and travel policies.
A Story of Friendship and Second Chances in 'Standing Up, Falling Down,' Starring Ben Schwartz and Billy Crystal at the KCET Cinema Series
KCET Cinema Series host Pete Hammond moderated a Q&A session with director Matt Ratner, and producers Chris Mangano and John Hermann.
A Q&A will immediately follow with star Annette Bening.
- 1 of 237
- next ›
Griffith Park is one of the largest municipal parks in the United States. Its founder, Griffith J. Griffith, donated the land to the city as a public recreation ground for all the people — an ideal that has been challenged over the years.
During World War II, three renowned photographers captured scenes from the Japanese incarceration: outsiders Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams and incarceree Tōyō Miyatake who boldly smuggled in a camera lens to document life from within the camp.
Prohibition may have outlawed liquor, but that didn’t mean the booze stopped flowing. Explore the myths of subterranean Los Angeles, crawl through prohibition-era tunnels, and visit some of the city’s oldest speakeasies.
Although best known for designing the homes of celebrities like Lucille Ball and Frank Sinatra, the pioneering African-American architect Paul Revere Williams also contributed to some of the city’ s most recognizable civic structures.
As recently as a century ago, scientists doubted whether the universe extended beyond our own Milky Way — until astronomer Edwin Hubble, working with the world’s most powerful telescope discovered just how vast the universe is.
- 1 of 5
- next ›