Park-poor Los Angeles gained a new gem over the weekend with the reopening of the made-over Los Angeles State Historic Park in Chinatown, just off Metro’s Gold Line.
Built on a former rail yard—the site of LA’s first passenger depot and the Western terminus of the Southern Pacific Railroad—the 34-acre park boasts spectacular views of the city’s skyline.
The park has existed as public space for more than a decade. The state purchased it in 2001 after residents rallied to stop a big industrial park and warehouses from being built on the site. But while it has hosted music festivals in the past, including FYF Fest, it never really had any amenities.
Now, after three years of construction and landscaping, it does. In the heat on Saturday, residents and politicians celebrated its reopening by flying kites, picnicking, and plucking fruit from public orange trees. Below are more than a dozen of our favorite photos from opening weekend.
A bridge offers vistas of the LA skyline. “What we like about the park is it gives you a vantage point,” Sean Woods, superintendent of California State Parks, Los Angeles, told KPCC.
L.A. State Historic Park is finally re-open to the public after 3+ years of renovations.. and I must say, the wait was well worth it. Episodic experiences unfold as you meander through the sprawling 32-acre urban oasis, filled with lush drought-tolerant native landscaping, shaded picnic areas, great city views, and peaceful places of respite around every corner. Most importantly, my favorite jogging spot in the city has returned! Happy Day. . . #EarthDay #LosAngeles #DTLA #Chinatown #LAStateHistoricPark #California #goldenstate #sunset #nature #skyline #urbanoasis #parksandrecreation
The reopening of the park was delayed, in part, because of California’s drought. Without rain, it took a long time for grass to grow. To help it along, the parks department trucked in up to 80,000 gallons of water daily from the new Los Angeles-Glendale Water Reclamation Facility in Glendale.
A public orange grove was built in partnership with a local art collective called Fallen Fruit, part of its project titled “The Monument to Sharing.”
The trees are planted in metal containers emblazoned with quotes from residents living near the park about what it means to share and be a good neighbor.
An irrigation system uses reclaimed water and bioswales and cisterns to capture rainwater. Everything is irrigated with reclaimed water.
There’s a new parking lot that’s eco-friendly. The ground is permeable and the roof “facilitates rainwater recycling.”
Among the plants dotting the park (not all of them are native): poppies, sage, oaks, sycamore, olive, and pepper trees.
The park abuts “some of the oldest and most historic” neighborhoods in LA that have “deep rooted connections to the beginning of the city,” said Woods. That includes what was once Chavez Ravine (now home to Dodger Stadium), Chinatown (formerly Sonoratown), and Lincoln Heights.
As the Los Angeles Times pointed out: “There are no swings, jungle gyms, barbecue grills, basketball courts or other pieces of park infrastructure. In their place is a vast open space with drought-tolerant bushes, a giant, crescent-shaped lawn and decomposed granite paths that encourage a stroll.”
A 1.1-mile track for walking and jogging encircles the park, which is carved into some gentrifying industrial areas. It’s also very close to Metro’s Gold Line.
Before the nearby LA River was turned into a concrete channel, it flowed into the park. LA-based artist Debra Scacco’s etched metal and concrete sculptures are inspired by the historic paths of the river. Someday, the park may connect to the river.
The capacity for events is smaller now (25,000 people), “in part to keep the grass from being trampled,” says LA Downtown News.
A welcome center will house volunteers and an interpretive media installation with history and interactive exhibits. In the winter and spring, water will fall off the concave-shaped roof into the rock cisterns below. (They look like fire pits but aren’t.)
Soon, a beer garden and restaurant fabricated from shipping containers will open near the entrance.