Pershing Square is finally on the way to a major makeover, and one that will hardly be its first: the current look of Pershing, with its purple tower and cement-heavy appearance, was the result of a redesign in the nineties, but the park's been overhauled many times since it first opened in 1866. Nonprofit Pershing Square Renew recently launched an international design competition and is now sifting through the first round of applications to redesign Pershing. But since the first rumblings of a reboot started coming about two years ago, there's been a movement pushing less for a redesign and more for a return to the way the place looked circa 1910, when a design by City Hall architect John Parkinson was in full effect. To support its arguments in favor of restoration, they've released footage from the recently restored 1916 film Shoes, directed by Lois Weber, which uses the park as a backdrop and offers a rare glimpse at a totally different, pretty alluring Pershing.
Those unfamiliar with the turn-of-the-century look of Pershing Square would hardly recognize it as it appears in Shoes. The old version held "a central fountain, sculptures placed in their historic locations, diagonal paths, shade trees, benches and street-level views and pedestrian access." Like old photos of what was then a fantastic green space, the 99-year-old film makes it easy to see why some would want to see the park of old make a comeback.
The Pershing Square Restoration Society, the main force behind the 1910 restoration push, is throwing their support behind a proposal from SRK Architects, one of the 51 potential reboots submitted to Pershing Square Renew. The Restoration Society says on their website that SRK's plan would "[adapt] elements of John Parkinson's classic 1910 design to the needs of twenty first century Los Angeles."
· Don't Redesign, Restore Pershing Square! [Pershing Square Restoration Society]
· 38 Photos of Pershing Square From 1866 to Today [Curbed LA]
· Here's the Timeline For the Big Redesign of LA's Oldest and Most Hated Park [Curbed LA]