Dog of the Week #6

Dulce the Dog
Dulce the Dog
Meet Dulce the dog. He is part chihuahua part miniature pincher and 1 year old. As you can tell by the picture he is quite the spitfire but I am told that he is quite the cuddler as well. As usually he won’t go into Los Angeles State Historic Park without his leash on.

Cliff Swallows at LASHP!

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/3888019]

Director of CA State Parks visits LASHP

Lauren Bon and Director Ruth Coleman
Lauren Bon and Director Ruth Coleman

Director Ruth Coleman visited Los Angeles State Historic Park today to see the beautiful wildflowers and to chat with Lauren Bon, the artist behind the Not a Cornfield project that took place here back in 2005. Looks like she is enjoying the change of scenery!

Looking up toward North Broadway
Looking up toward North Broadway
Purple Owl's Clover
Purple Owl's Clover
A Breezy Afternoon
A Breezy Afternoon

America’s Best Idea

Screening at Paramount Ranch
Screening at Paramount Ranch

Last Thursday, this California State Parks staffer joined a comrade from the National Park Service for a sneak preview of documentarian Ken Burns’ newest series set to air on PBS in September, “The National Parks – America’s Best Idea.” The evening was quite a treat beginning with a serendipitous brush with President Obama’s motorcade headed south on the 101 as we traveled north in the carpool lane through Burbank. An impressive show, for sure. But not to be outdone was the veritable NPS rangercade that escorted Burns through the crowd and into the screening at Paramount Ranch.

Photo by Karen Quincy Loberg, Ventura County Star
Photo by Karen Quincy Loberg, Ventura County Star

Part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Paramount Ranch is itself a National Park Unit and an ideal setting in the golden hour light to welcome visitors for park hikes, docent tours, and other activities prior to the screening.

NPS Display
NPS Display

KCET personality and friend of all California parks, Huell Howser, was on hand to moderate the evening’s events with the folksy enthusiasm we’ve all come to expect. But Huell also provided some insightful commentary. On Burns’ engaging view of history and unique storytelling he aptly stated that he “makes us feel better about who we are” as Americans. Burns, for his part was humble, thoughtful, and genuinely awed with regard to his latest subject emphasizing that preservation of land for public use and enjoyment is a uniquely American enterprise, calling it “democracy applied to the landscape.” In equal measure, he spoke appreciatively of those people, past and present, dedicated to preserving our most beautiful landscapes and endangered wildlife, making the National Park system what it is today. He spoke further of a commitment to life-long learning, service, and stewardship that is cultivated in tandem with a love of our National Parks and public landscapes reassuring the audience that “in difficult times, parks have thrived.”

Ghost Town at Paramount Ranch
Ghost Town at Paramount Ranch

From a State Parks perspective, it is notable that “America’s Best Idea” originated in California. In 1864 Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees was deeded to the State as a public trust in a land grant by President Lincoln “…to be held for public use, resort, and recreation…” a direct precursor to the modern California State Parks department and mission. Yosemite was the original California State Park and later incorporated as part of the National Park Service which was established in 1916.

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California,with it its rich landscape, was also not surprisingly home to early environmental activism. In the 1880’s Ralph Sidney Smith, editor of the Redwood City Times and Gazette began writing about the need for preservation of California’s unique redwood forests. The Sempervirens Club, formed in 1900, carried on the crusade for preservation and their vocal advocacy led to the creation of the modern State Park system with the opening of the first modern park, “Big Basin” in Santa Cruz County in 1904.

Here at LASHP the legacy of that early activism is particularly resonant. In the same spirit of preservation, LASHP was rescued from pending industrial development by a coalition of thirty-five neighborhood, urban environmental, and social justice organizations. The Chinatown Yard Alliance pulled together in joint recognition of the site’s historical significance and its potential to fulfill a tremendous need for open space and possible reconnection to the Los Angeles river. Thanks to the vision and hard work of concerned Angelenos we have this lovely space and a neighborhood poised to transform around it as opposed to blocks of warehouses and more of the industrial same-old.

Photo by Joshua White
Photo by Joshua White

Tidy Tips

tidytip

Dog of the Week #5

cooper

Cooper! Enjoying a special day in the park and, as always, proudly wearing his leash. Look at that smile. Coop loves the lupines.

(Nothing But) Flowers

Arroyo Lupine
Arroyo Lupine

During the early springtime, I doubt that there is a nicer spot in downtown Los Angeles to get locked out of the office. A bit of carelessness that would normally be a significant aggravation turned into an impromptu stroll through the wildflowers as we headed toward the southern office for rescue. We enjoyed the morning breeze and an up-close look at the explosion of color covering the northern half of the park.

For all you downtowners growing weary of the monochrome landscape of cubicles and stale air of office towers, I highly recommend taking a moment to be locked out. Hop on the Metro Redline or Chinatown Dash and head for Union Station or Chinatown. The Gold line will get you one stop further to the Chinatown Station from Union. Take a short walk down the station stairs towards LASHP (or down College from Broadway if you are coming from the Dash) and get lost for a few minutes amongst the lupines, poppies, and tidy tips.

Hearing the birds and quiet rustle of long grass and willows you will hardly believe that this gentle place once clanked non-stop with trains as the Southern Pacific River Station – the hub of industrial development in late 19th and early 20th century Los Angeles.

California Poppies
California Poppies

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Hamburger Stand, Or

Early 1950’s stripped-down vernacular urban fast-food roadside establishment?

Millie's
Millie's

If you are a State Park Historian, and the hamburger stand in question happens to be on an archaeological site then it is the latter. So, why such a mouthful for something so simple? It all goes back to the State Parks Mission:

To provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation.

Because the entire 32 acres encompasing Los Angeles State Historic Park are designated as one archaeoligical site, we are mandated to carefully review any projects or activities at the park that may affect the below ground cultural resources. Underneath our park are the remnants of the Southern Pacific Railyard that was formerly a major passenger, and later, a freight depot. Remnants include an enormous turntable and roundhouse used to service trains, foundations of maintence shops, an old hotel, and passenger depot foundations.

Hungry shopworkers at the Southern Pacific River Station
Hungry shopworkers at the Southern Pacific River Station

With regard to our little “vernacular roadside establishment” we mentioned in an earlier post that big changes are on the way. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Urban Green for a modern, healthy take on roadside fast-food. Part of that process on our end involves a State Park review of proposed renovations to the structure and surrounding area to ensure that valuable resources are not damaged. And this is where the historian and all those descriptors come in, to evaluate the historical significance of the building and make recommendations for preservation.

Archaeologist examining paving stones near Millie's
Archaeologist examining paving stones near Millie's
Paving stone
Paving stone detail

Paving stones were used to prevent the wagons sinking into mud as freight and passengers were loaded and unloaded from the station. There’s more than meets the eye everywhere at LASHP.

Dog of the Week #4

Teddy the Yorkshire Terrier
Teddy the Yorkshire Terrier
Say hi to Teddy (full name Theodor Roosevelt). He is two year old Yorkshire Terrier and loves walking around LASHP and wearing his leash.

About those Goats

On Friday we left you with a little goat teaser, so, here’s the lowdown. Our ungulate friends are here to help Farmlab/Metabolic Studio clear the Anabolic Monument for a new agricultural cycle.
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The Anabolic Monument is the living progression of the Not a Cornfield art project consisting of a large circle of slowly decomposing cornstalk bails. The wildflowers we are enjoying right now at LASHP were first cultivated, allowed to bloom, and drop their seeds within the sculpture. The Anabolic sculpture and annual bloom of wildflowers are a unique display of the unusual partnership between Los Angeles State Historic Park and Metabolic Studio.

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poppies and lupine
poppies and lupine

So the six goats, and one very strange deer/sheep hybrid, are here to help clear the way for what’s next in the Anabolic Monument. We can’t wait to see what our neighbors have in store for us.

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