This Saturday, Los Angeles State Historic Park celebrates a grand re-opening to show off an extensive update—a big reveal the city has been waiting to see for 16 years.
Once a dusty and down-at-heel area sandwiched between Chinatown and the rest of Downtown L.A., the park has been made over with grassy open spaces, picnicking grounds, wildlife conservation habitats and 1,500 newly-planted trees.
“You’re looking at a new place Downtown for public gatherings, flying kites, kicking a ball and just getting away from it all. It’s also a center for pondering the city’s dynamic cultural history–warts and all,” park superintendent Sean Woods told the L.A. Times.
The new space didn’t happen overnight. The project started in 2001, when the space was nothing but an abandoned yard. In 2006, an interim park opened on a portion of the property (familiar to attendees of music festivals FYF and HARD, which were hosted on the site), but that area was closed to the public in 2014. Construction was intended to be complete in 2015, but drought and budget concerns along with the discovery of trace contaminants in the soil pushed back the timeline until now.
Even as the park celebrates a grand opening, officials are already thinking of how to improve it further. Proposals for the next phase include adding an elevated pedestrian walkway to connect the park directly to the nearby Gold Line Metro station. There is even an ambitious plan put forward by Lauren Bon of the Annenberg Foundation that would see the construction of a large water wheel that would draw water up from the L.A. River to feed into an irrigation system to feed green spaces, including the L.A. State Historic Park, sustainably.
The upgraded park is sure to be a favorite picnic spot this summer, and a number of events in the park, including several outdoor movie screenings, have already been announced for the upcoming season.
To get your first look at the park, stop by the grand opening celebration on April 22 from 10am to 6pm.
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