Visitors to Los Angeles State Historic Park (LASHP) often wonder what exactly makes our park historical. This is due to the fact that most of our material history is underground. This past week, State Park archaeologists have been at LASHP uncovering some of that history.
In 1875, the Southern Pacific Railroad made its way into what is now downtown Los Angeles, connecting the city to the transcontinental railroad in the north. The property chosen for the new passenger depot and yard was located in what is now the middle section of the park and was considered far from the existing town center at the time. 4 years later, in 1879, passenger traffic had increased to the extent that a hotel was constructed next to the depot, offering weary travelers a respite with a “parlor sitting room” and restaurant serving quick “25 minute meals.”
This past week State archaeologists uncovered the foundation of the hotel and what was once the ice house for the rail yard. Based on their current excavation, we now know that the ice house walls went much further down than originally thought. It appears the ice was kept cool below ground in something much like a basement. They also located what they believe to be a hotel water closet, based on terra cotta and metal piping that was found.
Here are a few photos documenting the dig and illustrating how the layers of history within our park continue to reveal hidden stories about the park and the city’s past.