neighborhood, history

project El Pueblo

EL PUEBLO, the birthplace of Los Angeles. 

View down Olvera St

In 1781, 44 settlers established a farming community in a southwest bit of what was then known as Alta California. They christened their newly formed community El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, The Town of the Queen of Angels. In 1953, that 44-acre area was designated the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument.  

Beginning in the 1990's, Los Angeles commenced a series of projects designed to preserve, restore and revitalize the area the started Los Angeles. Today, El Pueblo is a vibrant and lively two-blocks, speckled with FREE museums, live music, restaurants, an eclectic marketplace and historic churches. Find a bench on Olvera Street, enjoy the shade of the trees, and soak in the quiet giddiness of the surrounds. 

Among the treasures of El Pueblo are: 

  • Avila Adobe - the oldest surviving residence in Los Angeles, built in 1818. It's a museum today, so go inside and wander around the rooms of the original house. FREE to the public.  
  • The Old Plaza Firehouse - the oldest fire station in Los Angeles, built in 1884.  FREE to the public. 
  • America Tropical Interpretive Center - provides information about David Alfaro Siqueiro’s controversial mural ‘America Tropical.’ FREE to the public. 
  • Olvera Street (the oldest street in Los Angeles) - a block-long Mexican marketplace with restaurants and stalls painted in a wash of primary colors. In 1930, the street was closed to vehicular traffic and hasn't changed much since. 
  • La Plaza de Cultura y Artes - museum for Mexican-American culture. On the top floor there is a life-sized, interactive replica of El Pueblo from the 1930's. It's complete with a spice shop, record store, vegetable mart and more. FREE to public. 
  • Chinese American Museum - The museum is housed in the Garner building (1890), the oldest and last surviving structure of the original Chinatown. Learn about the history of the Chinese in El Pueblo and more. FREE to public. 

  • Jorge the Donkey - Not technically a museum, but an institution of sorts. Put on a Sombrero, and put your ass on this ass. $10. Check out the story of Jorge here.

Take Note:

  • El Pueblo is right across the street from Union Station, more reason to take the train!
  • Nightlife with few exceptions is virtually non-existent in El Pueblo. The stalls and most restaurants close around sunset.
  • There is nearly always entertaining live music going on in La Plaza. From 3-6 on weekdays and all day on weekends. Don’t forget to support the local artists and tip!
  • Recommended food: Juanita’s cafe! It’s one of the little stalls along Olvera St. Eat here.