Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Recommended need to see.

This following exerpt will tell why. From time to time I will find these little jewels and will post them here. This one, though, was recommended by a field volunteer in LA.

Thanks Mary Anne.

MacArthur Park on the Comeback Trail

By Leslie Evans

Fifty years ago MacArthur Park at 7th and Alvarado was a quiet family spot for picnics and boat rides for young lovers. In recent decades it descended into a haunt for drug dealers and the homeless, a center of crime and trash to be avoided, especially after dark.

Well, after numerous city efforts and energetic policing by LAPD had made noticeable improvements, the MacArthur Park Public and Private Partnership, improbably linked to Mama's Hot Tamales Cafe, seems to have completed the rescue. A few days ago I received an emailed brochure on the renovation, saying the boats are back on the lake, with free rides on Saturday and Sunday for kids, and even for adults if they are tamale purchasers, free concerts, and an atmosphere more welcoming of families than of the underground economy.

Wanting to take a look, I drove over to the park, a hop, skip, and a jump from West Adams. The first thing I noticed was that the heaps of tossed fast food wrappers that usually litter all of the surrounding streets are not there. There were boats floating at the wharf at the boathouse, although none were in use the day I went -- a Sunday. But there were plenty of families strolling along the lakeside, old men sitting and talking on the grassy hillocks next to the water, and people feeding an eager crowd of pigeons and seagulls. The birds were fearless, generally looking you in the eye to figure out if you were going to give them something. And ducks were swimming next to the tall water spray put back in service a few years ago.

I took a few photos, and one little girl with her family made a point of getting into several while hardly breaking stride. There were no obvious drug dealers in sight. One more plus for the efforts to revive the swath from West Adams to Downtown.

The well-designed brochure I received over the wires proclaimed:

"MacArthur Park has once again become a center of community activities where families, couples, and individuals can enjoy its natural beauty enhanced by food, recreation, leisure, art, and music. MacArthur Park, located in the heart of central Los Angeles, was once an urban oasis for family enjoyment and entertainment. There was a time when the Park was a popular place for neighborhood residents and visitors alike to enjoy a relaxing boat ride on the lake, or hold a family gathering or picnic in the park.

"After several decades of community disinvestment, MacArthur Park is once again becoming an urban oasis for family enjoyment and entertainment due to an integrated neighborhood reinvestment strategy. The Alliance: MacArthur Park, a public, private partnership is implementing a neighborhood reinvestment strategy that is restoring, promoting, preserving, and maintaining MacArthur Park as a place for leisure and recreation in a beautiful natural setting. The Partnership is also advancing the cultural arts and traditions of neighborhood residents and merchants."

Have You Been to MacArthur Park Lately?
Families and elderly people with their books have been coming back to the park. And the boathouse is back in business. They are offering free boat rides on Saturdays and Sundays between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm starting Saturday, June 5 to : children and any accompanying adults; any adult who buys at least two or more tamales or two other items from a Sidewalk Vending Cart; or any adult who buys two tamales at Mama’s Hot Tamales Café (located across the street from the park on 7th and Alvarado).

The sidewalk vending carts are an upscale version of the traditional street vendor. They are made of polished mahogany siding, stainless-steel surfaces, and curved masonite roofs. They sport distinctive white rubber tires with hand-tooled wood spokes. Los Angeles Magazine comments, "They are quaint, recalling postcards of the well manicured MacArthur Park of yore, where men in top hats and women under parasols sauntered its edge."

The Pasadena Pops Orchestra will offer a free concert at the part on Saturday, June 19, 1:00 to 5:00 pm. For other events, check out the park's website at:

Or visit the MacArthur Park Public and Private Partnership office located at Mama’s Hot Tamales Café™ across from the park at 2120 W. Seventh Street or call the office at 213.487.

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