Explore LA Historic Park “A rose garden of Innovation”

Los Angeles State Historic Park

The Rose Garden of Innovation

The Downtown Breakfast Club bestowed the “Rose Garden of Innovation Award” to this extraordinary place: the Los Angeles State Historic Park (the transformation of the former, underused Cornfield yards). Los Angeles State Historic Park provides an extraordinary opportunity for recreation and education in the heart of Los Angeles.  Within its 32 acres of open space directly adjacent to Chinatown, park visitors can wander pathways and enjoy a view of downtown, as well as discover and celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of Los Angeles.

Los Angeles State Historic Park—the Crown Jewel of the Department’s Urban Strategic Initiative

Los Angeles State Historic Park, often referred to as “Central Park of Los Angeles,” is one of the Department’s most high-profile, politically-charged and highly anticipated park projects in the State.   Calling it a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” Governor Gray Davis signed California Senate Bill 1177 on Sept. 28 2001, authorizing the California Department of Parks and Recreation to “acquire, assess, clean up, plan, design, build and maintain the 34-acre parcel.  The purchase of the site marked one of the most significant environmental justice victories in Los Angeles and a testament to the power of grassroots activism.  In addition, the park is set at the midway point of an evolving 52-mile Los Angeles River greenway and is considered a catalyst for the River Revitalization Movement.   Since 2001, State Parks has invested over $150 million in bond funds and countless staff resources to implement the Department’s Urban Strategic Initiative in Los Angeles (Rio de Los Angeles State Park, Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook and Los Angeles State Historic Park.)   Los Angeles State Historic Park is considered the leading-edge of California State Parks efforts to bring the State Park Mission to some of the most underserved, park-poor communities in the heart of the nation’s second largest city in the United States.  Over the 15 years, the State has worked hand in hand with surrounding communities to develop Los Angeles State Historic Park as a space for civic dialogue, cultural celebration and historic remembrance. State Parks has engaged the local community in an extensive series of over 65 public meetings and planning workshops during which they shared their visions for the park’s future.

On Saturday, April 22, California State Parks hosted the grand opening celebration for its new state park – Los Angeles State Historic Park. The grand opening featured an official ribbon-cutting and speeches from [Governor Jerry Brown], Senator Pro-Tem Kevin De León, Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon, Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez, California Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird, California State Parks Director Lisa Mangat, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles Councilmember Gil Cedillo, California State Park and Recreation Commissioner Elva Yanez and members of the community.

Situated in one of the most park-poor, underserved communities in the nation’s second largest city, the 34-acre Los Angeles State Historic Park will provide equitable access to state park lands, promote healthy lifestyles in a much-needed open space, enshrine the amazing story of the community and build new stewards for California’s state parks system.  Los Angeles State Historic Park also symbolizes the perseverance and rich cultural heritage of the communities in the surrounding area. The park was built through working with the community to commemorate their heritages and to create an open, functional and recreational space for residents of the area as well as for all Californians.

The Los Angeles State Historic Park project is also reflective of California State Parks’ Transformation Effort. Through this effort, the department has strengthened itself through a myriad of initiatives and projects to improve visitors’ experiences and make the system more relevant to a broader and more diverse populations.


You can run, walk, ride a bike, have a picnic, fly a kite and even look for urban wildlife such as birds traveling down the Pacific flyway.  Do all of these things and more while inventive architectural features in the landscape hint of the park’s history.  The Metro Gold Line zips past the south side of the park on raised tracks following the course of a water system that stretched from the Los Angeles River to El Pueblo in the early 1800s.  It may be difficult to imagine, but this place was once a fertile basin, and within a mile of the park is the last recorded location of Yang-na, a large Tongva village.  The history of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s River Station, opened in 1875, includes a waterwheel, freight house, roundhouse, depot and station yard.  Rows of deer grass now hint of the vanished railroad tracks, and you can stand and reflect on the travels of the thousands of people who arrived here from all over the country and world.  The Pacific Hotel opened here in 1879 and once served “25 minute meals” to River Station passengers. The approximate shape of the hotel is marked today by a boundary of recycled glass.

Things to Do

Several historical buildings are within walking distance of the park.  On the north side, the Flat Iron Building is the second oldest industrial building standing in Los Angeles and dates from 1890.  On the southern end of the park, the Capitol Milling Company building from 1883 is easily visible.  Surrounding the Park are the historic and ethnically diverse communities of Lincoln Heights, Elysian Park, Solano Canyon, Chinatown, Chavez Ravine and William Mead Homes.

Interpretive Media Laboratory

The Interpretive Media Laboratory (IMLab) is a new joint program of the UCLA Center for Research in Engineering, Media and Performance (REMAP) and the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation. Its focus is to research, develop and maintain innovative interpretive approaches for the new Los Angeles State Historic Park. For a more detailed description and how to participate here.

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The Los Angeles State Historic Park is the hub of a living laboratory envisioned for Northeast Downtown that tangibly connects UCLA research to the City’s social fabric and the development of its communities. The Park, which sits just south of Dodger Stadium and adjacent to the LA River, is a resonant place for Angelenos, having seen each major phase of technological and social development in City history, including the engineering of water supplies, railroads, and freeways. About one million people live within a five mile radius: 28% of them children, many in lower-income underserved groups, a third with no access to a car.


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The Downtown Breakfast Club

The Downtown Breakfast Club Roses & Lemon Awards Ceremony, Celebrates with Roses by Downtown’s best new entertainment and development, while calling-out as a Lemon for improvement.

The DBC mission is to encourage the orderly growth of Downtown Los Angeles. This year’s event – co-chaired by Shelby Jordan and Jean-Guy Poitras, and overseen by President Mike Savage – paid special attention to DTLA’s new crop of renowned and innovative restaurants and bars.




Edited by Robert Schmolze, Marketing Director United Interiors