Los Angeles: El Pueblo Los Angeles, Our Lady Queen of Angels Church, Olvera Street, Avila Adobe, America Tropical, Pico House, Plaza Firehouse 1884, Chinese Museum and Chinatown

3/9/16 (Wednesday) in Acton, CA (Soledad RV Park-TT)

Warning:   LOTS of photos in this post!

Today was the day for our Metrolink trip to LA. We left our campground at 8:45, arrived by 9, then took some time figuring out the ticket machine. We got them fine, the senior rate is only $9.50 per round trip from this station (Vincent Grade/Acton). The train was late arriving, then had to wait for another train to cross the tracks, so we didn’t get to Union Station until 11:15. Sheesh, almost time for lunch! Because we didn’t know what we were doing, when we got off the train we just followed people ahead of us. Well once you reach this long hallway, be sure to look up for the sign that says West Union Station or East Union Station. We found ourselves at the East end, which turned out to be very small with just a couple places to eat, restrooms and voila, you’re outside set to strike out for the big city! No information desk, just a bus stop… eventually we found out for Information we needed to head to the other end, West.   Below is Union Station East.


Below is Union Station West

El Pueblo Los Angeles describes this area as the site of the earliest Los Angeles pueblo where 44 settlers who created a farming community. It’s just a short walk straight out from the Union Station West end. You’ll find the Plaza by just looking for the area with some huge trees, people singing, dancing or playing music and a huge gazebo. Sorry, I didn’t get an image of the gazebo.

Our Lady Queen of Angels Church (1818-1822), the oldest church in the city, still serves as a parish.

If your back is to Union Station West, as you stand at this courtyard, Olvera Street is to your right. Named after the first judge for Los Angeles, it was closed to cars in 1930, becoming a Mexican marketplace. It’s filled with Old Mexico merchandise, authentic Mexican cuisine and some more historical places. Since it was lunch time we enjoyed a great Mexican meal at a small food stall (Juanita’s). Great food, best prices.

Olvera Street

Among those historic places is the Avila Adobe (free), built in 1818 by Don Francisco Avila, a mayor of LA in 1810. It’s the city’s oldest adobe building. Note the really thick walls, and exterior doors on either side of the house for cross ventilation. Mr. Avila grew wealthy by making candles, wine and raising cattle.

Avila Adobe

You’ll also find “America Tropical” Interpretive Center (free). Here you learn about a mural painted by the Mexican revolutionary David Alfaro Siqueiros. It depicted an overgrown jungle with a crucified Indian peasant surmounted by an American eagle, at which revolutionary soldiers aim their rifles.” Because of it’s content it was whitewashed soon after his opening show. In 1988 efforts were made to restore it. The first image is a reproduction of the original, although the people at the bottom are images of those who attended the opening show. The last is what we saw from the viewing platform. It’s not visible from Olvera street like it had been.

America Tropical

To the left of that El Pueblo courtyard are more historical buildings like the Pico House, built by Pio de Jesus Pico, the last governor of California under Mexican rule. This was the first three story building and first grand hotel in Los Angeles. It’s even appeared in the TV series “The Mentalist”, as well as commercials for Honda, BMW, JC Penny and Target.

Pico Hotel


Also the Plaza Firehouse, built in 1884 with a copula at the top. As we walked around the corner of that building to the Chinese museum, I was struck by the simplicity of this scene in an empty room.


On to the Chinese American Museum where we learned the history of the Chinese people here in LA. I’ll note points that resonated with me. Most came to escape poverty, arriving to help in the mines, building the railroads, and even doing jobs that only women should be doing because there weren’t enough women to do them, like laundry. There was a great deal of discrimination in those days, as gold was becoming scarce, animosity grew toward the Chinese so they settled in exclusive areas in large cities, doing low end labor so then many blamed them for their depressed wages. Thus California passed their Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) to bar all Chinese from entering the state. After this many faced the dilemma of whether to stay in the US or return to China to reunite with their families (most here were adult men). After the Depression Chinatown was condemned and razed, replaced by Union Station. By 1943 Congress repealed the Chinese Exclusion Laws (unconstitutional). In1948 (communism came to power), the Displaced Persons Act allowed resident status to Chinese scholars already in the US and California repealed its anti-miscegenation law. In 1965 the Immigration and Nationality Act opened the door to Chinese and other non-European immigration. In 1982 two unemployed auto workers in Detroit beat Vincent Chin to death with a baseball bat because they thought he was Japanese. Neither man served jail time for his murder. In the same year the Chinese American artist Maya Lin designed the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial.

Chinese Museum

I wanted to see Chinatown (New Chinatown), so we explored there as well.


By 2:30, we were ready to go home. Since we had some time before the train left we visited some of the Mexican Cultural plaza near the Union Station, then sat in the waiting area until 15 minutes before the train left. Glad we did because on our way we realized we needed to visit the restrooms, then John realized he didn’t have his hat (he’d left it at the waiting area, then a lady needed to check our tickets. Our train left at 3:45 but didn’t arrive at the Vincent Grade/Acton station until 5:30. Would you believe, as we were approaching our Miss Journey, we spotted Jinhee/Richard! We hadn’t seen them for a year. That was fun, we noted we’d get together soon, but we were sure ready to have our supper and relax then!


About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
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