Park Archaeologists Busy as Construction Proceeds


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While park construction forges ahead, state archaeologists are on-site monitoring all this activity and keeping eyes peeled for any new artifacts or structures that might surface. The photo above shows the site of a trash pit discovered early on during construction and located near the footprint of the old Pacific Hotel. Artifacts gathered from the pit include pieces of dishware, ink bottles, and oil lamps. Heavy equipment and grading in this area were halted long enough for archaeologists to survey the site and gather artifacts. They date most of these recent finds to the late 1800’s, concurrent with the Los Angeles River Station – the first passenger depot in Los Angeles and the western terminus of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Though most of the major site grading is complete, archaeologists will remain on-site throughout construction. Next up should be the frames of our new welcome center and ranger station. Check back for photos and an update on the bridge construction already visible in the center of the park.

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Presenting: LASHP Trails and Wellspring

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The Interpretive Media Laboratory at Los Angeles Historic Site (UCLA –IMLab) has unveiled its mobile website ( along with an interactive sculptural trailhead located below the historic Broadway Bridge on Baker Street. The goal of the mobile website is to engage users in participatory exploration of the community surrounding LASHP via their smartphones. The trailhead, known as “Wellspring” is a sculpture created by local artists Michael Parker and Troy Rounseville using all recycled material from Los Angeles State Historic Park and referencing the “Zanja Madre” or mother ditch, which brought water from the Los Angeles River to El Pueblo de Los Angeles, the birthplace of modern Los Angeles. The mobile website can only be activate from this location and guides users to discovery spots with historical information and pictures, and also suggests creative opportunities exercise along the curated routes.

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A compass/ arrow navigation tool points its users to hot spots along the three curated routes. The Park Rim Trail is 3 ½ miles, El Pueblo/ Chinatown is 4.5 miles Trail, and for the more adventurous there is the 6.5 mile Trail which loops through Elysian Park. During the demonstration walk, the crowd explored 3 Hotspots showing information about the Buena Vista Viaduct (Historical North Broadway Bridge), The LA River Station, and the Flat Iron/ Ice House building which was instrumental in the agricultural boom of California. The goal of LASHP-Trails is not only to promote physical activity, but to engage individuals with their city’s history and prompt consideration of this city’s future. Ultimately, the goal is for the public to tell their own stories about Urban Los Angeles and help establish a network of interconnected urban trails. UCLA and State Parks see the mobile website evolving to become a community authoring system. This would allow individuals to add their own stories and histories related to place and curate their own trails tailored to specific interests.

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LA River Campout #2: October 18-19th, 2014 @ The Bowtie Project


The Campout and evening programming are full.  Please stay posted for information on future events and the next Campout in Spring 2015. Thanks everyone for supporting State Parks and the Bowtie Project.

For further information please contact:

Luis Rincon, CA State Parks Interpretive Specialist:


Marsh Park Grand Opening

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With Los Angeles State Historic Park closed for construction, park staff has been spending a lot of time visiting neighboring parks and participating in off-site programs and events. One of the most exciting recently was the grand opening of Marsh Park’s 6 acre extension.  The opening of Phase-2 was inspirational as we wait for the completion of LASHP and look forward to our own grand opening next summer. The event drew community members, partner agencies, and elected officials including Senator Kevin De Leon, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, and California State Assembly member Jimmy Gomez in celebration of the new park and ongoing Los Angeles River revitalization efforts.


The following week, the Mountains and Recreation Conservation Authority (MRCA), who manage Marsh Park, offered a screening of Ken Burns’ short documentary, “Yosemite: Gathering of the Spirit.” The film commemorates 150 years of California State Parks, beginning with the preservation of Yosemite, originally as a State Park, in 1864.  MRCA Naturalist Andy Bleckinger and National Park Service Ranger Anthony Bevilacqua welcomed State Parks’ participation and MRCA’s Junior Rangers shared their recent first-hand experiences visiting Yosemite National Park.







building: a simulacrum of power


On August 24th , 2014  Los Angeles artist Rafa Esparza, shared the stage for a dramatic sunset performance with  choreographer and dancer Rebeca Hernandez at Michael Parker’s: “The Unfinished” at the Bowtie Parcel. After working on the site with his family for several weeks, Rafa’s residency at the Bowtie Parcel was completed in this performance prompted by historical precedents of labor dynamics and power referenced in The Unfinished. With the assistance of his father, mother, four brothers and his sister, the family labored together making adobe bricks at the site for 3 weeks, working long hours in the hot sun. Using water from the LA River in an intensive process learned from his father, Rafa and family made over 1500 adobe bricks to completely cover the 137 foot long obelisk. This adobe brick making technique was mastered by the elder Esparza in his hometown of Ricardo Flores Magon in Durango, Mexico.


Rebeca Hernandez and dancers performed along the obelisk in flannel shirts depicting workers struggle. Reflecting the setting sun with a mirror, Rafa cast light onto the dancers as they moved along the obelisk and the sun set on the Los Angeles River.

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Rafa’s exploration of labor continued during the performance as he pulled himself across the obelisk, often scraping his body in a visceral reference to the struggle of natives peoples.


With the sun completely set and darkness falling, Rafa concluded his performance in a ceremonial fashion by burning sage and victoriously throwing the crowning adobe brick from the tip of the obelisk.



Thank you to Rafa Esparza, Rebeca Hernandez, Michael Parker, Mackenzie Hoffman, Elizabeth Sonenberg, and Clockshop for bringing this memorable and moving performance to the Bowtie.



The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail


California State Parks and National Park Service partners at our Community Outreach Office in El Pueblo de Los Angeles were fortunate to receive a visit by Hale Sargent, the Interpretive Specialist with National Park Service for the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. Hale shared new interpretive projects and materials associated with Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. Specifically, Hale presented a new binder with paintings and drawings by Laura Cunningham, illustrating some of the struggles the de Anza Expedition faced upon its 1,210 mile journey to reach Alta California and populate present day San Francisco.


Juan Bautista de Anza is most famous in California for leading this inland expedition through New Spain (California) in 1774 to the San Francisco Bay. De Anza left Sinaloa and Sonora to head north with permission from the Spanish King. The Anza Trail is significant to California State Parks in Los Angeles, in that its route closely follows the Los Angeles River near our downtown parks. De Anza’s goal was to reach San Francisco and thwart a possible invasion by Russia into California. De Anza established the northernmost Spanish outpost and layed the sites for Mission San Francisco de Asis and Presidio de San Francisco. Later, Jose Joaquin Moraga who was left to establish El Presidio de San Francisco as De Anza returned to Mexico in 1777. On his return voyage, de Anza located the sites for Mission Santa Clara de Asis and the town of San Jose de Guadalupe (Present day San Jose, CA)

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State Senator Kevin de Leon visits LASHP and Rio de Los Angeles

Senator DeLeon

Last week we had the pleasure of welcoming Senator Kevin de Leon to the Los Angeles State Historic Park office and providing him with an update on the park development project at LASHP. Superintendent Sean Woods gave Senator de Leon a tour of the LASHP construction site and later Rio de Los Angeles State Park where they met with community members to talk about the future of State Parks in Los Angeles. And a big thank you Timm Herdt with the Ventura County Star for the great article about LA State Parks and the Senator’s visit.

Thanks to Park Champions at Rio de Los Angeles!

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While construction continues at Los Angeles State Historic Park, volunteers are hard at work at our State Park around the corner, Rio de Los Angeles. Park Champions is a volunteer program managed by California State Parks Foundation, State Parks’ greatest ally and non-profit advocate. On this warm Wednesday, Park Champions worked in partnership with our long term volunteer group Las Abuelas del Rio, pulling invasive plants to restore the native riperian habitat and beautify the park. Stay tuned for information on upcoming volunteer projects as we continue the slow but steady progress of habitat restoration at Rio. And, check back periodically for updates on the Los Angeles State Historic Park construction, also proceeding at a slow but steady pace this summer. We’re looking forward to a beautiful new park this time next year!

We’ve posted before about sightings of the orange bishop, an exotic, sub-Saharan African bird species that was introduced into Los Angeles in the 1980’s. Recently, one has been spending a lot of time in our sunflowers and even though we love our native birds, can’t get enough of this little beauty.

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