El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument is near the site of the early Los Angeles pueblo or town where forty-four settlers of Native American, African and European heritage journeyed more than one-thousand miles across the desert from present-day northern Mexico and established a farming community in September 1781. Since that time, Los Angeles has been under the flags of Spain, Mexico and the United States and has grown into one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas. Today, as a department of the City of Los Angeles, El Pueblo is a living museum that continues to fulfill its unique role as the historic and symbolic heart of the city, reflecting the Native American, African American, Spanish, Anglo, Mexican, Chinese, Italian and French cultures that contributed to its early history. Of the monument’s twenty-seven historic buildings, eleven are open to the public as businesses or have been restored as museums.
Los Angeles started out as a small farming town in an area inhabited by friendly Native American Indians. Under the orders of King Carlos III of Spain, a "pueblo" was founded in 1781 to grow food for the soldiers guarding this far-off territory of Spain.
As the town grew and prospered, retired soldiers were given large portions of land on which to graze their cattle. In 1821 Mexico declared her independence from Spain and successive governors of Alta California gave additional land grants to other settlers including new arrivals from Europe and the east coast of America who liked the climate and the life here. They joined the Californios in becoming ranchers, merchants and winemakers.
In 1846 the Mexican American War began and the United States troops took Los Angeles the following year. At first the town retained its customs and traditions but gradually, as the population grew, the professional heart of the city moved southwards. The plaza area then saw many changes. The old landowners who had owned houses around the plaza moved away, new buildings were constructed, and the area gradually changed to light industrial and business use. These changes brought in new settlers and the east side of the Plaza became the heart of the city's first Chinatown. French and Italian settlers also arrived in large numbers. All this activity could not prevent the gradual decline of the former pueblo area which, soon after the turn of the century, turned into a slum.
Thanks to the efforts of a determined woman, Christine Sterling, who recognized the value of the old historic buildings and who cherished the Spanish and Mexican heritage of the City, the Avila Adobe (the city's oldest landmark), was rescued from demolition and became the focal point of Olvera Street which began a new life as a colorful Mexican market place in 1930.
In 1953 a strong effort to preserve the area resulted in the creation of a State historic park. The State of California and the County and City of Los Angeles joined together to purchase the buildings and sites around the plaza. In 1989, the Park was turned over to the City of Los Angeles. Now the Monument, as it is called, is a run by the City of Los Angeles. Plans are afoot to restore and develop the historic buildings and to bring more people and opportunities to the area.
845 N. Alameda Street, Los Angeles
Phone: (213) 628-1274