love LA" certainly has a better ring to it than "I
love El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles
de la Porciúncula". Maybe that's why the name
has been shortened over the years to the point that now it's
just two letters. This gives Los Angeles the distinction of
having both the longest and shortest name for a city in the US and
fourth longest in the world.
Prior to being dubbed that mammoth moniker by Don Fernando Rivera y Moncada (his
journeying through The Golden State, we reckoned we
ought to see where The City of Angels got its start and that
meant a trip into the heart of downtown.
Nestled among the skyscrapers, train stations, bridges and parking lots we found Olvera Street, the "Birthplace of Los
spot has been the center of LA since the 1820s when the plaza
was built on the edge of what was then known as Wine Street.
The road was officially renamed Olvera Street in 1877 in honor
of Augustín Olvera, a Judge for Los Angeles County.
Nowadays we find a lively tourist area and historical district. Apparently the place rocks during Cinco de Mayo and El Dia de los Muertos, a weeklong celebration of joyful remembrance of lost loved ones.
Olvera Street explorations began at Sepúlveda House.
Eloisa Martinez de Sepúlveda arrived here in Alta
California with her family at the age of eleven. They had
come from the State of Sonora, Mexico, which at that time was
a move from one state to another within the country.
was one tough cookie. In 1887, widowed and left without the
property given as her marriage dowry, she built a commercial
building known as the Sepúlveda Block on land that
her also-widowed mother owned, quite a feat for a woman of
her day. The two story
Victorian-style building cost Eliosa $8,000 and featured businesses,
a boarding facility and her private residence.
|Armed with information from The Center, we took to the street. The street is flanked by twenty-seven historic buildings dating back to the 1800s, blending Mexican and the newly adopted Anglo architectures. The original adobe structures from the late 1700s no longer remain. Most buildings are refurbished as restaurants or the ever present tourist area crap shops but we nevertheless got a feel for how|
the center of the narrow street small carts have set up shop
to ply their Mexican wrestling masks, paper flowers, cup and
ball toys, sarapes, cheap guitars, puppets and even an Elvis
on velvet or two.
Browsing the souvenirs amidst the aromas of the many authentic cafes was killing us, so before we could make the last few exhausting steps to the plaza, a sustenance stop was necessary.
|There are plenty of culinary choices on Olvera Street-- from table cloths adorned with fine china to walking-around-with wrapped tacos. We chose an in-between -- a sit down and eat from a basket establishment, La Noche Buena, with its colorful atmosphere and tables in full view of the|
|Salsas are generally a good yardstick when sizing up a Mexican restaurant and La Noche Buena did not disappoint. Four varieties -- muy mild mannered to aye carumba! -- served with whole fried corn tortillas. Everything else was gravy after that. After a few tacos al carbon and some killer taquitos, we had regained the strength to manage the last fifty yards or so to the plaza.|
were wearing powdered wigs and living in New England.
circular plaza in front of the old church is ringed with historical
markers depicting the founding of the LA and its counterpart
settlements up and down the west coast. Turns out the Spanish
had a well governed system of missions and presideos all across
Veronica, a native California girl, was well versed in the mission chronicles, but David was not taught about the Spanish and Mexican side of things while growing up on the prairie in the 1960s. As far as he knew the only people making history on the entire North American continent in the late 1700s.
We're never too old to learn something new.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com
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