Neither does a casual glance (as in Oh, look. T-shirts and cheap knick knacks. ).
It started as a plain alley (between Main Street and Los Angeles Street). In the 1930s it was converted into a Mexican themed marketplace.
Check out this old pic I found . Even with the souvenir carts, it still looks ally-esque.
(Image from http://www.image-archeology.com)
A far cry from the 2010 street that's bursting with Mexican food, garb, candy, crafts, and souvenirs.My favorite part is the Avila Adobe, a historic home dating back to when Los Angeles was part of Spain (and soon after, Mexico).
(Image from http://www.image-archeology.com)Sadly, by the 1920s, this once magnificent house was crumbling, and condemned!
Luckily, Avila Adobe (or what was left of it) was restored. You can tour it for free. It's furnished to look like it could have looked in mid 1800s. Actually I'm surpised it's not more famous. Most buildings in Los Angeles that we consider "old" are maybe 50-100 years old. The Avila Adobe is almost 200 years old!
Some purists quibble with labeling Olvera street as "the birthplace of the City of Los Angeles."
As the wikipedia page suggests:
"The Avila Adobe aside, however, the buildings on the street date from at least a hundred years after the founding of the city in 1781, and have little if any authentic association with the city's founding, or with its former status as a Spanish, then Mexican outpost."Still, the land that it sits on was certianly part of the earliest chunks of the city. For example, the original aquaduct ended in the old plaza (south of the street's enterence). So I'll forgive the oversimplification.