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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Experiencing Los Angeles: Revisiting Calle Olvera

Olvera Street, or "Calle Olvera," is a one block historic street in downtown Los Angeles. It's listed as one of the "Top Five" in the "Great Streets of America" journal.

Never been? There's no really "bad" time to visit Olvera Street. Except, maybe, if it's raining. Which rarely happens between May - October (this past May being an exception). 

Thanks to a Mediterranean climate, which - within the United State - is unique to Southern California, Los Angeles will go a full six months no rain. Zero. Nada. Warm summer days and cool evenings is one of the reasons why people choose to live here. 

Sunny skies were certainly the case when I was visiting Olvera Street in late November 2017. I was over at Chinatown, and decided to walk the few extra blocks and stop by. 

These photos were taken the Saturday before Thanksgiving, hence the long shadows. 

Olvera Street is often called the oldest street in the City of Los Angeles. The truth is a little more complex. It is home to the oldest existing building, the Avila Adobe - built in 1818. 

Apparently, Los Angeles' original streets were located about a mile or so south. Near today's Pershing Square. Flooding from the nearby Los Angeles River forced the little settlement to move - twice. 

The 1818 Avila Adobe is the oldest surviving structure, built almost 40 years after the city's founding in 1781.

As an aside, the Avila Adobe is not the oldest building in Los Angeles County. That honor goes to the Gage Mansion, built in 1795 and located in the nearby City of Bell Gardens. 

Up until 1930, Olvera Street wasn't a street at all. It was a small, dingy alley. When the city considered demolishing the Avila Adobe 1920's, Christina Serling - a transplant from Northern California - stepped in, not only to save it, but transform the alley into an idealized Mexican marketplace. Here's a link to an excellent article from LA Weekly on the history of Olvera Street.

In that sense, the street is historic. It's what people - certainly, Anglos, 90 or so years ago - imagined early Los Angeles to look like.

Like many Angelenos, I have fond memories of school field trips to Olvera Street - especially in 4th grade, when kids in California focus on "California History." 

I also have good memories of taking my kids here several times when our family lived in L.A. Here's a link to some photos from a previous post with photos from 10 years ago. 

Meanwhile, these photos were all taken in late November. Great time to visit, in my opinion. 

In addition to traditional handcraft souvenirs, you'll find more contemporary touristy shirts, like this nod to L.A. Felix Chevrolet, located across the street from USC. 

Or "Los Doyers" - a play on a Spanish pronunciation of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Spanish doesn't have a "g" sound, and instead was pronounced as a "y" - hence "Doyers." What was originally a racist insult is now a point of pride. 

And, of course, handcraft goods, which haven been part of Olvera Street since it opened in 1930. 

In addition, there's several places to eat, including Casa La Golondrina, which my family and I have enjoyed. 

Love the cross. 

© 2019


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Here to Stay: Mosaic Church in the Heart of Hollywood

Mosaic is an non-denominational church located at several sites throughout metro Los Angeles. The Hollywood congregation's meeting location at the intersection of Hollywood Blvd and La Brea. It is very much in the heart of the city. 

The church has been meeting at this location in Hollywood since 2011 in a rented facility.

Recently, the site has come up for sale. Mosaic has the opportunity to buy this property. If they are unable to purchase this spot, the land will be sold to someone else, and they'll need to find a new location. 

The church is working to raise the initial $5 million to buy this property. Here's a link to their go fund me site. The funding deadline is June 30, 2019. 

Here's a promotional video the church put together. Whatever your background, even if you're never even visited Hollywood - perhaps you'd like to help support an active, growing church that's committed to serving their immediate community. Certainly, that's Mosaic. 

Here's a link to the church's website (where I pulled these photos and video from). 

© 2019


Sunday, June 2, 2019

Experiencing Los Angeles: Mercado La Paloma

Last month I had lunch in Los Angeles with a co-worked at Mercado La Paloma. 

Mercado La Paloma is located in a small industrial building, on the east side of the 110 Freeway, a couple of block from USC. 

Mercado La Paloma opened in 2004 as a urban foodcourt, plus a mix of small stores. 

There are eight different restaurant choices featuring either food from the US, Mexico, Central America, Thailand, and (above) Ethiopia. 

It really felt like an smaller, and more local version, of downtown Los Angeles' historic Grand Central Market. I'm a big fan of the Grand Central Market, but but Mercado La Paloma was certainly not as difficult to get to or move around. 

My coworker Brian, working as a campus minister at USC, opted for Chichen Itza and their yummy pork dish. Great food and great value. 

We hit the lunchtime rush, but it was still pretty easy to find a seat. 

Many thanks to Brian for introducing me to new corners of Los Angeles. Previous highlights have included dinner with his family in the Arts District, and Ignatius Cafe, located a mile west of USC. 

One of the walls in the dining area featured a display of posters focusing on Health Activism and Social Justice. 

Similar in many ways to the "Prison Nation" exhibition at Pierce College in Valley from earlier this year. 

Social conservatives railed against the evils of tobacco for decades, but it was alongside Democrat Bill Clinton twenty years ago that real progress was made in curtailing cigarette usage in the US.  

Statistics regarding health care in the US. While this blog tends to steer clear of politics, perhaps a more foundational question - regardless of one's political affiliation - should be "why is health care in the US so incredibly expensive?"

In addition to the eight restaurants, Mercado La Paloma has a handful of small shops, featuring hand crafted items. 

Some information on Mercado La Paloma in both English and Spanish. A list of the shops, restaurants, and other information be found on their website

© 2019