Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Olvera Street ... Where Los Angeles Began

My sister Penny, and nephew Benjamin, were coming to Los Angeles, to spend the night with me. We decided to got back to Olvera Street. We have a family history over there and my sister had been there only once! You may have noticed that I have posted about this little corner of town before ... but I just love it!

Olvera Street is the oldest part of Los Angeles.

La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles
Founded in 1814, historical landmark

This church was built on the ruins of the previous "sub-station mission," (founded 1784) to serve the original settlers.

The name Los Angeles is an abbreviation from the original name, "El Pueblo de la Reyna de los Angeles." The town of the Queen of Angels. (Although there is some debate about the exact name.)

The church is Franciscan, like all the California Missions, (though this isn't part of the missions.) Anyway, I noticed the Annunciation (above) is patterned after the one, that is above the altar, in the Porziuncola, which is the little sacred church St. Francis built below Assisi. Sometimes it feels like everything connects back to Francis! 

There was some kind of church related festivity going on, outside of the church, and inside there was a mass going on. Photos will have to wait for my next visit!

I miss going to Mexico. Maybe that is part of the reason I like to going back again and again, to Olvera Street. It gives me a little Mexico booster.

We used to go to Rosarito Beach with my Mom's side of the family. We'd hang out on the beach and my grandma and aunt would pull out their guitars. My mom, my aunties, grandmas and great grandmother would all sing. This is one of the songs I remember. My grandpa loved it.

The church is right across the road from Olvera Street, and I'm pretty sure that is where my great grandmother, then later my grandfather, would have been baptized. Her mother (My great great grandmother) and father were married in Chile, and then came up to Los Angeles.

Olvera Street is really only one block long ...

And it's crammed with vendors, shops and restaurants!

Benjamin, my nephew, in his new summer hat!

This restaurant, La Golondrina Café, is in the oldest standing brick building in Los Angeles. (1857)

We had lunch there and, as usual, we got a song from the mariachis! It's the oldest restaurant on the street and it has been in the same family since it opened, in 1930. I had the sautéed trout with tamatillo salsa. Mmmmmm.

I love this shop below ... lots of costumes for traditional dance, along with jewelry, lamps and other fun, colorful items. It's upstairs, at the very end of the street.

This next one is a great shop for more contemporary fare. In fact, my sister got two adorable embroidered blouses and a darling dress. (That I plan to borrow!)

Ben and Penny, making wishes at the wishing well ...

And now ... the oldest surviving residence in Los Angeles

Yep, it's also on Olvera Street. It's registered as a California Historical Landmark and the part of the Los Angeles Plaza Historic District and, along with Olvera Street, a California State Park.

Avila Adobe

This is the courtyard area. The Avila Adobe was built in 1818 by ranchero, Francisco José Avila, who was mayor of Los Angeles in 1810.

We were told that the wood floors were added later and back in the day they would have had packed dirt floors, which kept them cool, in the summer.

Just another groovy brick building ...

LOVE the Olvera Candle Shop. It's full of groovy gifts and arts of Dia de los Muertos ... and of course candles.

Ben loved the Mexican wrestling masks ...

So I got him one. He picked out the Nacho Libre mask.

When we were walking out to the parking lot, this man yelled "Nacho Libre!!!" out his car window, when he saw Ben. Wish you could have heard the guy. It was as if he were at a wrestling match in Mexico. So funny! "Nacho Libre!" Still makes me laugh.

The  Old Plaza
Built 1820s

Above, is the square where they have musicians, dancers, and various festivities and celebrations. The story goes, that my great great grandparents had their wedding reception in the plaza, after they arrived from Chile. She was only 14 or 15 years old.

That's my sis and Ben heading to car.

And yes, we did the total touristy shot. So silly, but it cracked us up, and Ben loved the donkey. I seem to remember that decades ago, it was an real stuffed donkey, but that might just be my memory playing tricks on me!

For more on Avila Adobe, click here
As I mentioned, I have done previous posts on Olvera Street. Click HERE if you are interested in checking them out!

Here is a 1937 film on Olvera Street. Not exactly politically correct but pretty interesting to see it before they added all the kiosks, and all the things that have changed. Too bad they don't have the puppet shows anymore!

Summer afternoon,
Summer afternoon;
to me those have always been
the two most beautiful words
in the English language.
~Henry James

blessings and light!


Kerry O'Gorman said...

How fun! I've been looking at this with my niece and we're having flashbacks of Mexico! One of these
days I'm going to come down and visit and you can take me to all the grooviness around you! Great photos...your nephew is cute as a button!

Loree said...

Wow, what an awesome tour of this historic street. Somehow it doesn't look like Los Angeles - or the Los Angeles of my imagination.

PK Studios said...

Fun day, fun post! Thanks for being a great host : )
Can't believe you found that old promo film.... Wow have things changed!

PK Studios said...

Fun day, fun post! Thanks for being a great host : )
Can't believe you found that old promo film.... Wow have things changed!

Cobalt Violet said...

Kerry that would be amazing! Come down!

Loree, it's definitely the oldest part, but the Spanish and Mexican influence are everywhere in Southern California because of the earliest settlers and all the California Missions which were the Spanish. Even most of the names are Spanish.

PK - so glad it worked out!
Such an awesome and very full day!!!

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