Saturday, August 14, 2010

Elysian Park: Baseball and other Business


August 2nd, Dodgers vs. Padres.  (Click on image to zoom in)

I joined the Pasadena Crown City Optimists Club for an evening at Dodgers Stadium.  On my visits here I often remember the residents of Chavez Ravine who were forced out to have their neighborhood streets and homes dismantled.  Ry Cooder's music CD titled Chavez Ravine contains Third Base, Dodger Stadium, a song that laments about home was where 3rd base is.  See reference in my blog page L.A.-Books, Journals Web Resources.

Julian Chavez

Strife on the hill goes way back.  During the pueblo days of the Mexican California era (1821-1835), the general area of the ravine was a burial place for the unknown, the poor, and criminals.   In the 1850s through 1880s a county pest farm existed to care for the Chinese and Mexicans who contracted smallpox.

Julian Chavez and his brother Mariano acquired land here around 1844 known as "Coralitos."  (Chavez lived out his life in L.A. serving in public office, namely being one of the first members of the American governed Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 1852.)

His prominence and pioneering status probably earned him the place name of Chavez Ravine, but the hill also had four other ravines:  Sulfur, Cemetery, Solano and Reservoir.  (Dodger Stadium technically sits on Sulfur Ravine.)

Stone Quarry Hill

But the area provided sustenance for quarrying, so the hill was popularly known as Stone Quarry Hill.  In 1886 city fathers decide to take back the public land and dedicate the hill as Elysian Park, the public park space that it is known to this day.  Some citizens protested against the new parkland.  A city park commission became the authorizing authority for laborers seeking to quarry.  Denials were evident.  A news article even reported in 1891 that a man named William Mulholland had an altercation with a city laborer in a right-of-way dispute.

Brickmakers maintained some of their yards at this hill.  Perhaps the brickyards depleted some areas of the earth, because in 1949 a huge fill west of Figueroa Street in Elysian Park was the receptacle for 1,000,000 cubic yards of mountain removed from Fort Moore Hill in order to realign North Broadway as required to construct the Harbor Freeway.

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