Los Angeles State Historic Park—the Crown Jewel of the Department’s Urban Strategic Initiative
Los Angeles State Historic Park, often referred to as “Central Park of Los Angeles,” is one of the Department’s most high-profile, politically-charged and highly anticipated park projects in the State. Calling it a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” Governor Gray Davis signed California Senate Bill 1177 on Sept. 28 2001, authorizing the California Department of Parks and Recreation to “acquire, assess, clean up, plan, design, build and maintain the 34-acre parcel. The purchase of the site marked one of the most significant environmental justice victories in Los Angeles and a testament to the power of grassroots activism. In addition, the park is set at the midway point of an evolving 52-mile Los Angeles River greenway and is considered a catalyst for the River Revitalization Movement. Since 2001, State Parks has invested over $150 million in bond funds and countless staff resources to implement the Department’s Urban Strategic Initiative in Los Angeles (Rio de Los Angeles State Park, Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook and Los Angeles State Historic Park.) Los Angeles State Historic Park is considered the leading-edge of California State Parks efforts to bring the State Park Mission to some of the most underserved, park-poor communities in the heart of the nation’s second largest city in the United States. Over the 15 years, the State has worked hand in hand with surrounding communities to develop Los Angeles State Historic Park as a space for civic dialogue, cultural celebration and historic remembrance. State Parks has engaged the local community in an extensive series of over 65 public meetings and planning workshops during which they shared their visions for the park’s future.
On Saturday, April 22, California State Parks hosted the grand opening celebration for its new state park – Los Angeles State Historic Park. The grand opening featured an official ribbon-cutting and speeches from [Governor Jerry Brown], Senator Pro-Tem Kevin De León, Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon, Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez, California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird, California State Parks Director Lisa Mangat, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles Councilmember Gil Cedillo, California State Park and Recreation Commissioner Elva Yanez and members of the community.
Situated in one of the most park-poor, underserved communities in the nation’s second largest city, the 34-acre Los Angeles State Historic Park will provide equitable access to state park lands, promote healthy lifestyles in a much-needed open space, enshrine the amazing story of the community and build new stewards for California’s state parks system. Los Angeles State Historic Park also symbolizes the perseverance and rich cultural heritage of the communities in the surrounding area. The park was built through working with the community to commemorate their heritages and to create an open, functional and recreational space for residents of the area as well as for all Californians.
The Los Angeles State Historic Park project is also reflective of California State Parks’ Transformation Effort. Through this effort, the department has strengthened itself through a myriad of initiatives and projects to improve visitors’ experiences and make the system more relevant to a broader and more diverse populations.