Monday, August 31, 2015

Westlake Park

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On my way back from having my car serviced downtown on Saturday morning, I stopped at MacArthur Park to view an art installation called "The Spheres at MacArthur Park, Portraits of Hope."  Portraits of Hope sponsors many programs (from their website) aimed at enriching the lives of children and adults - many who may be coping with adversity or serious illness - through their participation in creative, educational, high-profile, one-of-a-kind projects. School children and their parents throughout Los Angeles donated their time to painting the spheres, conceived by brothers Bernie and Ed Massey.

Volunteers inflating and launching the spheres into the lake

It was a super hot day in Los Angeles and I didn't stay at the Park long, but I did manage to snap a few shots of these colorful spheres bobbing in the Lake.

Taxi Cab from "Garden In Transit - Portraits of Hope" Project

Westlake Park, built in the 1890s in Los Angeles, was renamed MacArthur Park in 1942 (from a KCET article to honor General Douglas MacArthur, reportedly part of William Randolph Hearst's scheme to elevate the general to the presidency.  Do read the highlighted KCET article for more interesting facts about this legendary Los Angeles park!
General Douglas MacArthur Memorial at MacArthur Park, L.A.

As I was leaving the park, I noticed the big sign over the Westlake Theatre (now a swap meet). This area was called Westlake because it was the western boundary of what was considered the CITY at the time. There used to be a boathouse here where you could rent boats to sail on the lake. There was a refreshment stand and weekly concerts in the band shell. This was a very fashionable part of the city. Gaylord Wilshire's Wilshire Boulevard subsequently split the park in half. Years later, it fell into disrepair and a criminal element limited the public's use of the park.  I'm glad to see people coming here again to see the Spheres Installation.
The Westlake Theatre Sign is still there

Wilshire Boulevard, near the Park, 1938. DWP Photo Archives

I also noticed a mural facing the Park entrance, on Wilshire and Alvarado, called "Los Angeles Teachers" by Hector Ponce (1997) depicting Edward James Olmos (in character) with educator Jaime Escalante, from the movie "Stand and Deliver."  
"Los Angeles Teachers" by Hector Ponce, 1997

Facing the other direction from the Park entrance at 7th St. and Alvarado, there was a line in front of the best delicatessen in Los Angeles, Langer's. I would have joined that line if it wasn't so hot at 11:45 a.m.!
I'll definitely come back here when the weather is cooler and walk around to view more of this historic neighborhood.

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