Wednesday, November 01, 2006

McArthur Park is Melting...

I heard today on KNX1070 that there is a potential movement to rename the Westlake District - the area surrounding McArthur Park - to the "Historic Central American District." Councilman Ed Reyes was interviewed and supports the idea. Should we further eliminate the past of our City with this renaming in order to celebrate the current conditions? There is a public hearing process - will there be contention? Is this just another example of politics and special interest swaying the Councilmember's decisions a la Historic Filipinotown or Little Armenia or Thaitown? Does every foreign region require a district in Los Angeles? I'm not advocating either way, but these are real questions that our community and City need to consider.

There is an official process for community name changes and adoption, and three communities are currently in the process to define their boundaries: Brookside, Arroyo View Estates, and Lake Balboa.

The current effort to rename a small portion of Highland Park/Garvanza as "Arroyo View Estates" is quite interesting. The application states that the area has been historically known as such and calls attention to the fact that the don't want to be associated with the community south of Highland Park - they feel they are more closely aligned with adjacent Pasadena. The Planning Department says there is no historical planning record of such a community, but the documents from the Planning Department, found here, don't seem to have a firm grasp on neighborhoods. They refer to Valley Village as part of Van Nuys, whereas it was originally part of North Hollywood. I think the Department of Transportation says it best in their letter:
The Department anticipates a conflict in naming the Arroyo View Estates community if modifications are not made to the Highland Park and Garvanza community boundaries.
So, what's next for all these name changes? Will these changes be significant to the community or only to the community's property owners?

Will McArthur Park literally be melting in the dark? Will anyone notice or care?


Peter McFerrin said...

"Historic" Central American District? Oh, for crying out loud, there were hardly any Central Americans there before 1980. If it's going to be called "historic" anything, it should be "Historic Art School Alley" or maybe "Historic Old-Jewish-Men-Playing-Chess-in-the-Park-town."

I wouldn't mind having MacArthur Park renamed back to Westlake Park, as its current namesake was just this side of fascism. However, don't rename the neighborhood for a population that may not be there in 20 years.

Anonymous said...

I live in a part of Van Nuys that was renamed Lake Balboa. Feh!! As I say it is Van Nuys nothing else.

Even though Otis and the Westlake theater are gone. I always get a little Joseph Wambaugh/Choirboys nostalgic for that area. Perhaps it should be Rampart run amok.

Anonymous said...

I'm "Central American" and think this idea is ridiculous. I hope it doesn't go through, leave it at Westlake! That is much more historic.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they should call it "Westlake" and then under the sign, "historic Central American district". Then, open a museum in one of the city buildings there, to record the history of the neighborhood. It's been an entry point for so many people, and an important part of LA; everyone would benefit from knowing some history.

Anonymous said...

That's stunning. Central Americans are honored first BEFORE Mexicans? Madre de God! The single largest ethinic grouping of the city not to mention its founder and former ruler gets a one-block tourist trap next to the Union Station while Nicaraguans, Guatemalans, et al., being a lot newer to this country, get top-billing in LA's historic swath of Art-Decos. What have Central Americans done besides live? Is having a pulse the most minimal requirement to get a community named after you?

Peter McFerrin said...


You could also include Plaza de la Raza in Lincoln Heights as a monument to Mexican culture, and perhaps even Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights. A pitifully small grouping, though, you're right.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to look further into this. Does someone have a citation for this story beyond just "I heard it on the radio station". Is there a copy of a petition out there or a transcripts of the remarks made by the city council person?

Anything would help

Anonymous said...

Littlecatown said:

It is quite obvious that the writers of the previous comments that they ignore completely,
what the Central American
community is and the historical
roots in the last 30 years.

First of all, let's get the historical presence of Central
Americans straight: On September
28, 1542, a portuguese sailor
came to San Miguel (San Diego, CA)
and discovered for the Spanish
Crown California.

Well, one the galleons (the San
Salvador) was used. You can
see that memorialized in the
County Seal of the County of
Los Angeles, designed by
Kenneth Hahn, the father of former
Mayor James Hahn. Look in google
the history of that seal.

Well, my friends, that expedition
sailed from Central America (El
Salvador and Guatemala) and Cabrillo brought Indians with
him from the istmus.

Coming back to the issue of
Westlake Pico Union as Historical
Central America Town, please refer
to 660 South Bonnie Brae, that is
where the Central American Resource
Center Was born. Also, that is
a historical place for Mayor
Villaraigosa, because he studied
there at the People's College of
Law, that they have been permanently in solidarity with
the peoples of Central America.

You have Guatemalan, Honduran,
Salvadoran and Nicaraguan restaurants. As you can have
a good pastrami at the corner
of South Alvarado and W. 7th, you
can also have good tamales, pupusas, nacatamales, casamiento,
gallo pinto, sopa de pata, etc.

Please read the book Guatemalan
and Salvadoran seeking justice
in a Global City written by USC
Professor Nora Hamilton, and
learn about the historical presence
of Central Americans in this area.

Just remember, that before there
was Union Station near Alameda Street, there was the oringal
Chinatown in Los Angeles.

So, folks, go and read, and
understand that Los Angeles
now is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural city, not a particular
group over another.

Members of the Jewish community
know this. The term diaspora come
from the exodus of jewish people
all over the world.

Well, the Central American Diaspora has taken roots in
Westlake Pico Union for generations
to come, my dear friends.

A friend of the Historical Central American Town concept.

Anonymous said...

My Dear White Brothers and Sisters: I do agree with the previous comments becuase not only Central Americans have been here for almost 30 years but own businesses, homes and their kids attend Universities such UCLA, USC, and Loyola. They pay business and property taxes to the city of Los Angeles.

The same as the people who lives and own businessin the Westwood Villige, West Side Villige, Palms, and Ranacho Park. There is nothing wrong by having a "Historical Central American Town" in the City of Los Angeles to Honor these hard working now U.S. Citizens.

When you drive around these West Side vecinities, there are streets such The Queen Avenue to show pride for British roots in the West Side Village. I suggest that once the City Of Los Angeles finished the process to rename West-Lake Pico-Union. The Historical Central American Town. They should rename 7th Street Central America Street.