California’s 279 State Parks encompass some of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes in the nation. From Anza-Borrego Desert State Park at over 100,000 acres, to the precious few remaining old growth redwoods at the first State Park, Big Basin Redwoods, one might wonder the appeal of aquiring 32 acres in the middle of an old, industrial district of downtown Los Angeles.
While California State Parks (CSP) remains committed to its mission of resource protection, the department is further dedicated to addressing the needs of urban residents through new partnerships and strategic initiatives in the 21st century. In this spirit, State Parks acquired the 32-acre parcel adjacent to Chinatown, Lincoln Heights and Solano Canyon after a coalition of community groups organized to protest pending industrial development and advocate for much needed open space. Over the past eight years, the State has worked hand in hand with surrounding communities in developing the park as a space for civic dialogue, cultural celebration and historic remembrance.
Today, 13 acres at the southern end of the park have been developed for public use as an interim phase until the formal design process is completed. Additionally, to the northern end, a partnership with Farmlab/Metabolic Studio has cultivated a unique living sculpture and field of wildflowers – an eagerly anticipated springtime gift to the city.
LASHP also figures prominently in revitalization of the Los Angeles River with a plan for native wetland habitat on the site and a future physical connection to the River. Coupled with efforts to connect with other green spaces of urban Los Angeles through a series of bikepaths and pedestrian walkways, LASHP is, as it has always been, a gateway – in the 21st century to a greener and newly imagined urban Los Angeles.
As the formal design process continues, CSP, Hargreaves Associates and the Los Angeles Sector strive to preserve and share the history of this resonant space, from the earliest native Tongva-Gabrieleno settlements, to the Portola crossing, and prominent railroad history in the late 19th through the 20th century. As well, we want to recognize the significance of more traumatic events such as the displacement of communities such as those in Old Chinatown and Chavez Ravine.
Los Angeles State Historic Park is unique in that it’s resources often lie hidden. Archeaological resources from the old Southern Pacific River Station lie embedded within the ground as are stories held within the hearts and minds of residents who observed the transformation of this land from railyard to brownfield to green space. LASHP is a park for and about the community that surrounds it.
This is our story, so please enjoy the park and share yours!