L.A., the city honored in the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s shortest civic abbreviation, takes its visitors on a historical tour at its historical monument. We’ve partnered with travel writer Pattie Cordova from Living Mi Vida Loca to get a first-hand guide at the birthplace of Los Angeles and home of the world famous Olvera Street.
Los Angeles has come a long way since its establishment in 1781 when 44 settlers (including children) arrived from northwest Mexico to start a new town, and a new life. Over two hundred years later, visitors can visit the state historic park of El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument and walk through this living museum and indulge in the art, foods and establishments that have stood the test of time. If you’re planning on visiting Los Angeles, make sure you visit the birth place of this wonderful city and stop by these must-see spots.
On any given day, you can visit Placita Olvera and see locals gathered around chatting, enjoying a treat and shopping at any one of the little kiosks surrounding the plaza. If you’re lucky, you may even catch live musical performances or any one of the multiple public events hosted there throughout the year. Placita Olvera also holds a monument memorializing all 44 settlers, listing their names and age.
Directly behind the plaza is Olvera Street – the world famous street named after the first judge of the city and county of Los Angeles. Olvera Street is home to a marketplace that is filled with authentic merchandise from Mexico, eateries offering traditional Mexican foods and candies, and many historical buildings that have since been converted to museums. A walk down this street will leave you feeling as though you stepped into old Mexico with its colorful stands and restaurants filled with patrons enjoying the fresh air in their outdoor seating areas.
The most controversial piece of property sits atop of a building on Olvera Street. Painted by the renowned Mexican muralist, David Alfaro Siqueiros in 1931, this piece of art commissioned by the city was later whitewashed due to pieces of it being deemed controversial. Stop by the interpretive center located in the historic Sepulveda House and they’ll tell you the whole story, and give you access to the roof top so you can see it for yourself!
Our Lady Queen of Angels Church
The oldest church in the city is across the street from Olvera Street. Built in 1818, it is still open to the public and holds regular services for the public. Visitors can sit in on services or light candles for loved ones along the exterior wall.
Plaza Firehouse and Chinese American Museum
The first ever firehouse in Los Angeles was established in 1884, and later served as a saloon, a lodging house, and store. Nowadays, visitors can walk in to this free museum and view items that were used in the early era of firefighting, along with a string of photos memorializing the many captains that served the city. Free tours are available during business hours.
The Chinese American Museum is just around the corner from the Plaza Firehouse inside of the last surviving structure from the city’s original Chinatown. It has hands-on exhibits for the family, hosts lectures, and displays a collection of different artifacts along with a detailed account of the history of Chinese-Americans in Los Angeles.
The oldest existing house in Los Angeles can be found on Olvera Street and offers a free self-led tour of the interior of the house and part of the outside. The inside is set up to reflect the lifestyle of the 1840’s and includes rooms such as the dining room, the office, bedrooms, and kitchens. Informational brochures are located inside the adobe for a nominal charge.
Los Angeles is a robust city with a past that has been encapsulated as El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument. Nowadays, visitors can visit historic buildings, streets and monuments free of charge while taking in the taste of traditional Mexican food, music and art. If you have time, I highly suggest the free guided tours conducted Tuesday through Saturday at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., and 12 p.m. Join the educational tours at the Las Angelitas del Pueblo office, located next to the Plaza Firehouse, and see how the city of angels got its start.
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