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Years ago, one of the summer rituals for L.A. children was a new pair of huaraches from Olvera Street and maybe some Mexican jumping beans. Nowadays those rituals are a year-round treat on this cobblestone street, which is a block-long cornucopia of traditional Mexican clothing, artwork, gifts, leather goods, novelties and restaurants. There is also a Visitors Center where tourists can appreciate the complimentary screening of a film which depicts early life in Los Angeles. Olvera Street was created in the 1930s and comprises the area known as the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, which is the site of the city's beginnings. Free tours are given to the public by the Las Angelinas, a non-profit organization.
This 44 acre heritage land is the oldest in Los Angeles, dating back to 1781. Prominent buildings include the city's first church, theater, firehouse, five museums and Avila Adobe; the oldest landmark in the city. Olvera Street, dotted with eateries, street vendors, and arts and craft shops among others, also runs through the Pueblo. Call ahead for tour timings.
The Zanja Madre or "Mother Ditch" is a fragment of the city's original irrigation ditch. It was built in 1781 and its purpose was to carry water from the Los Angeles River up near Elysian Park into the city. In 1929, to show where the Zanja Madre brought the water to the pueblo of the city, its path was marked with diagonal brickwork which you can still see today as you walk down Olvera Street.
Frequented by fiestas and open-air concerts, this is the heart of El Pueblo. Once the center of everyday life in Los Angeles, today some of the festivals held here include Dia de los Muertos in early November, Las Posadas leading up to Christmas, and of course Cinco de Mayo. In the center of the plaza itself is the Kiosko, a hexagonal bandstand made of wrought iron, which is surrounded by fig trees that provide welcome shade after exploring El Pueblo under the hot sun. It retains some of the old world charm right in the heart of the city.
Focusing on the Mexican American experience in the Southern California and greater Los Angeles area experience, this cultural center celebrates the influence of the culture and its people. La Plaza de Cultura y Artes is located near the site where Los Angeles was founded in 1781 on a sprawling 2.2 acre campus. The center is home to two historic buildings, and a lush public garden. Take a peek at rotating exhibits, partake in an educational program or attend one of their many on-going events.
Commissioned by Pío Pico, the last Mexican governor of California, this three-story building was constructed as a hotel by Ezra F. Kysor. Built in the style of an Italian palazzo, the building was once considered one of the finest buildings south of the Bay Area, and was put to successful use attracting merchants to stay and trade in the area. Today the building is privately owned and not open to the public; however, it's still worth a walk-by visit by anyone with an interest in local history.
This Byzantine-style architectural wonder is 454 feet tall and takes up a whole block of space. A tourist attraction in itself, the venue is always alive and humming with activity. Regular tours are held here, so tourists and locals can explore the interiors without getting lost. The structure was built in the mid 1920s. Call for more information, and don't forget your camera!
Named after a former chief of police, Parker Center Building is the home of the Los Angeles Police Department. You might be familiar with the exterior of the building from countless television programs and movies. Visitors can call to request a tour of the center, but visitors must be approved by the chief of police. If you have a group that you feel would benefit from a tour, you can make your case by either writing a letter or calling the general information line and the staff will put in your request.