On Sunday evening, as diners burrowed into rice bowls and maintained ice cream cones under a cluster of bright red umbrellas, a small group gathered for a ceremony outside the century-old market.
Among them was Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar, who represents the Downtown neighborhood and has been driving the revitalization of Broadway’s theater district.
A public space was the natural place to honor Gold, said Huizar, because “it helps us remember all people are relevant, which is something Jonathan Gold taught us.”
Huizar also spoke about Gold’s early involvement in efforts to legalize street vending for the city. “He’s impacted policy and he’s brought us together.”
The plaza is one half-block of the Broadway “dress rehearsal”—a streetscape project that closed a lane of traffic in 2014 to add wider sidewalks, bike share stations, and seating areas. The plaza already includes a sculpture of two disembodied pigs’ heads—actually a bike rack fabricated by SCI-Arc students, and nothing, really, could be more appropriate.
Last year, Grand Central Market was sold to new owner Adam Daneshgar, who had recently met Gold for the first time. “I come here every day,” Gold had told him.
A photo of Gold standing at the entrance to the market was used as the poster for the 2015 documentary City of Gold; the film premiered in LA at the Million Dollar Theater next door.
Gold’s permanent home at the market—just adjacent to the long lines outside Eggslut, which were well-chronicled in his writing—is designated with a plaque and customized street lamps, both designed by LA-Más.
“Jonathan Gold has always been playful and celebratory in his descriptions of food and Los Angeles,” says Elizabeth Timme, co-executive director of LA-Más. “We thought there was no better representation than borrowing the stylistic language of macaroni art.”
The icons of ramen, pizza, tacos, and burritos (“porno burritos?”) are inspired by his most beloved reviews.
Above the plaza, two laser-cut aluminum silhouettes inspired by the way saints are represented in stained-glass church windows have been affixed to the historic streetlamps.
LA-Más worked with the city to paint the streetlamps a striking shade of gold. At the right time of day, the shade is identical to that of the Bradbury Building, which Gold’s profile seems to be gazing at across the street.
Soon, according to the city, the sidewalk outside the market will be widened permanently to encompass the entire vehicular lane, and the new plaza pavers will include “gold-speckled highlights.”
“We access our neighborhoods, our shopping districts, and homes through the sidewalks of our city,” says Timme. “This often overlooked territory is the residual space left over by cars which food trucks, street vendors, and small business owners have made vibrant and alive through their use and magical urbanism.”
After the ceremony, the group headed to Grand Park, where family, friends, and members of the local food community shared stories about Gold at a public memorial. DJs spun hip hop while hundreds of fans queued up at taco trucks and collapsed into impromptu picnics on the lawn.
As the light drained from the sky, director Laura Gabbert played unreleased clips from City of Gold, and Gold’s voice reverberated through the canyon of midcentury buildings, his face grinning as City Hall behind him glowed gold for the second time in a month.
“The thing that people find hard to understand, I think, is sort of the magnitude of what’s here, the huge number of multiple cultures that live in the city who come together in this beautiful and haphazard fashion,” Gold had said in the film, a quote which is excerpted on the plaque. “And the fault lines between them are sometimes where you find the most beautiful things.”