Hollenbeck Park and CicLAvia
My friends and I took the subway downtown to participate in two walks: A stair walk lead by Secret Stairs of Los Angeles author, Charles Fleming and a walk with Los Angeles Walks as part of CicLAvia. CicLAvia is an event where the streets of Downtown Los Angeles are closed to cars so that people can walk, bike, skateboard, etc.
The Charles Fleming stair walk started at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights. Mariachi Plaza is a gathering spot for mariachis looking for work performing at restaurants and parties. Across the street is Boyle Hotel (aka “Mariachi Hotel”) built in 1889 where, until recently, over 100 mariachi lived at any given time starting in the 1930s. (A recent renovation of the hotel raised the rent and pushed the mariachis out).
We walked up Boyle Avenue to Hollenbeck Park, (established in 1892). As we are a group of stair walkers, Charles took us up and down the various stairs within the park as he told us about the history of the park and of the neighborhood.
Hollenbeck park was once filled with families from nearby stately homes. Other than our group, the only ones enjoying the park that morning were a handful of homeless men and a father and his two little children who were fishing in the park’s stinky lake water. One sleeping man was guarded by a gaggle of watch geese who stood up and honked in alarm as we approached.
Hopefully, some day a community group will restore the park to its former glory…although I’m not sure what can be done about the pylons supporting the 10 freeway that are jutting out of the lake. All I ask is that they not cut down the magnificent trees that fill the park. There’s been enough of that going on lately in Los Angeles.Back at Mariachi Plaza, we thanked Charles for another great walk and headed over to Un Solo Sol Kitchen for papusas (handmade tortillas stuffed with your choice of filling –pork for me—and served with curtido, which is pickled cabbage, onions, carrots, and oregano—topped with hot sauce). Yummy and only $2.50!
After lunch, one of my friends looked at her watch. We had 35 minutes to take the train to Little Tokyo and walk to 8th and Figueroa. Could we do it? No! Not even at the fast pace we were walking. Looking at a map now, I see the distance was 2 miles. Oh well. We knew the group would go straight down Figueroa to Expo Park so we decided to walk that 5-mile stretch on our own and maybe catch up with them. We enjoyed watching all the bicycles and skateboards going by. Everyone was having so much fun that I really wished I had a bike!
Councilmember Eric Garcetti tweeted that he will make CicLAvia a monthly event if he’s elected Mayor, so dig that bicycle out of the garage and sign up here to be notified of the next CicLAvia.
CicLAvia is a really cool event and I do have one note for single women and fraidy cats. There were masses of people and a strong police presence so, no worries if you don’t have any bike-riding friends to go with you. Oh and there are food and merchandise booths everywhere so bring cash.
Some of the highlights we experienced along the route were:
The Last Bookstore at 5th & Spring – two floors of books in a historic bank building.
Bob Hope Patriotic Hall – currently being restored.
Stimson House, aka the Red Castle – built out of Arizona sandstone in 1891
In November, Charles Fleming is taking us on a tour of Downtown L.A.’s newest park, Grand Park, along with someone who is knowledgeable about the planning and design of this 12-acre park that stretches from The Music Center to City Hall. If you’re interested in walking with us you need to get on Charles’ email list or keep an eye on his Facebook page. He’ll send out the details later this month.