Los Angeles

LA State Historic Park: Grand Opening

The Chinatown-close spread will make its "long-awaited" bow with a community-sweet festival.

The notion of a "Grand Opening" usually implies that the place throwing the doors wide is doing so for the first time, while, simultaneously, the people coming to check it out will have never attended an event there before.

Which makes the story of Los Angeles State Historic Park, which has been seen by many Angelenos in various iterations, all the more complex and riveting.

You may have called upon the 32-acre open property near Chinatown — it stretches from the neighborhood, along Spring Street for a good distance, in the direction of the LA River — and you may have even gone there to do something, like attend FYF Fest, which held court at the park for several years, or visit the "Not a Cornfield" art installation which sprouted in 2005.

The corn in the artwork was, of course, an homage to the space's long-standing nickname, The Cornfield, a handle that's still used.

In short, the space had been employed for a number of different reasons for a time, but the park hadn't achieved full flower. That day has arrived, or rather, officially will, thanks in large part to a passionate network of supporters and activists on Saturday, April 22. 

That's when a Grand Opening Celebration shall take place at LA State Historic Park, with bands — Quetzal is the headliner — and food trucks and kid-ready to-dos.

What's there? Grassy expanses, and pathways made for strolling, and picnic tables, and a stylish Ranger Station and Welcome Pavilion, complete with "rock pockets" for rainwater collection. (The park'll be open, rain or sun, all year long.)

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This transformation has been underway for awhile now — the history-rich space joined California State Parks in 2001 while a groundbreaking ceremony was held, ahead of the construction starting, in the spring of 2014 — and locals and park people alike will likely stop by, if not at the opening party, then later on, to check out the changes and updates.

The LA State Historic Park's journey to the present day began long before 2014, of course. The Zanja Madre, or Mother Ditch, is synonymous with the area, an expanse that became a bustling hub for the Southern Pacific Transportation Company well over a century ago.

That long-ago train connection is the reason behind the park's nickname, as ears of corn would tumble from the cars. And thus "The Cornfield" was born, and did it ever stick.

There are many stories woven through what is a sizable and yet somehow intimate space. It's a place that's easy to reach, thanks to a Gold Line stop being nearby, and it boasts quite the postcard-worthy view of downtown.

And this character-filled park's next chapter is about to start, on April 22, one of many in the big book that tells the tale of LA State Historic Park.

Eager to take an early peek? Some photos are live now.

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