On this 90 degree hot November morning, my friends and I joined about 100 other stair walkers for a tour of Grand Park, led by Secret Stairs author Charles Fleming.
The designer of the park, Mark Rios, gave a very interesting talk about the park. Grand Park was ten years in the making and opened in July 2012. This twelve acre park, located in downtown Los Angeles on Grand Avenue, connects the Music Hall to Los Angeles City Hall. Mr. Rios said the city wanted the park to be a representation of all the different cultures that make up Los Angeles. Meetings were held with different communities and ethnic groups to find out what people wanted and how to incorporate all the diverse cultures into the design of the park. There are several gardens with plants representing the different countries which are native to the diverse Angelenos. The park is dotted with 350 pieces of iconic bright pink furniture. Pink, a color chosen in order to make the park stand out and be different from other parks. It was also decided not to bolt the furniture down so that people can move the furniture to suit their needs. The consensus was that if people felt that the park belonged to them, then they would not steal the furniture. I am glad to report that not one piece of furniture has been stolen. There is a very long table in the park which can be used for large gatherings. The table looks like it can seat 40 people and the idea is to have a place where people can come together and celebrate their ethnicity and culture. There is also a stage with outlets to hook up lights, instruments, etc. for concerts. Free concerts are held in the park. Some of the concerts that take place at Disney Hall come to Grand Park, where people can attend for free. Other design elements of the park include a dog park, an area for food trucks, farmers market, and a section with a tiered garden with cement blocks which can be used as seats. These are located directly across from Los Angeles City Hall so people can watch special events.
The park cost 54 million dollars and money came from a developer who paid a non-refundable 54 million dollars for a 100 year lease on the land. When the real estate market went down, it became too costly for the developer to build and the money was used for Grand Park.
After the walk, my friends and I went a few blocks over to Olvera Street to eat.
We also toured Avila Adobe, the oldest house in Los Angeles which was built in 1818. Olvera Street and El Pueblo Historical Square (which is located right next to Olvera Street) were very crowded with the Dia de Los Muertos(Day of the Dead) celebrations taking place.
Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican celebration honoring loved ones who have passed. It is believed that the spirits come to visit their families October 31st and leave on November 2nd. We watched Dia de Los Muertos dancers with their painted faces and colorful costumes and mariachi bands perform at the El Pueblo Square Pavilion. Colorfully decorated altars honoring the departed were set up in the square.
La Plaza Mexican American Museum was open free of charge with Dia de Los Muertos art and paintings. The art is very colorful and creative.
All in all it was a full day. I did not realize the Dia de los Muertos activities were happening and very much enjoyed the festivities. I never knew about the museum and was glad to view the art for free.