A look on how the cultural beginning in 1781 by 44 people from Mexico progressed to the City of Los Angeles can be found at the newly opened La Plaza de Cultura y Artes. Located at 501 N. Main Street it sits at the center of historic Los Angeles adjacent to La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora, founded in 1827, and the oldest church in the City.
The exhibits at La Plaza trace the beginnings of Mexican culture in Los Angeles and weave a curse tracing the prejudices and problems Mexican Americans faced right through the first three fourths of the 20th century. We particularly enjoyed the actual quotes of people that are part of each exhibit. Perhaps nothing illustrates how far removed those prejudices have become than the names and positions of those who attended the official opening of La Plaza in April. They included County Supervisor Gloria Molina; Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Councilman Joe Huzar and Congressman Esteban Torres. Located at the actual site where Los Angeles was founded La Plaza includes 2.2 acres with two historical historic buildings for the exhibits and gardens and plaza for holding outdoor events.
La Plaza centers its exhibitions solely on the history and experience of the early Mexican pioneers and the generations that have followed. It is truly a history of the Mexican experiences over a period of 330 years in Los Angeles. The La Plaza experience includes artifacts of early Mexican California, films that include actual interviews with Mexican Americans, and the strife that often occurred.
El Jardin is the outdoor arena with room for stage performances, an outdoor kitchen and classrooms. The two historic buildings housing La Plaza date back to 1887 and 1888.,
Visiting hours for the general public are Wednesday thru Monday, noon to 7 p.m., closed Tuesdays and other days for school groups. Fee is $9 for adults and $5 for children. For more information call 888 488-6200, on the web at www.lapca.org.
Also worth visiting is Centro Pastoral de La Placita which is adjacent to La Plaza for relaxing and perhaps enjoying tradiional Mexican food available there.
One of the exhibits of early California quotes Walter Colton of the U.S. Navy who visited Mexico's California and Los Angeles in 1846 and wrote extensively about his experiences. He observed, "It is singular how the Californians reckon distance. They will speak of a place as only a short gallup off, when it is 50 or 100 miles distant". We found the quote must amusing as at least one example that some things have not changed in Los Angeles.
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