Sunday, February 21, 2010

Olvera Street:: An Ally Goes a Long Way.

Contrasty sunlight, my old camera, and a small card didn't do Olvera Street justice.
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
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
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.   


Linda said...

Brings to mind our Mission Dolores (over 200 yrs. old)!

Namowal said...

Hi Linda,
Have you visited Mission Dolores? Los Angeles has a mission (San Gabriel) but it's several miles inland and not a picturesque as some of the more famous ones.
As for these old buildings, I can picture Mission Dolores, the Avila Adobe, and San Gabriel getting together and griping "The new buildings today have it so easy! Central heat! Indoor plumbing! Satellite dishes!"

Linda said...

Namo, you are cracking me up with the griping buildings!
Yes, we went to Mission Dolores for a Christmas concert. At the end of the concert they dumped tons of rose petals from the very top of the high ceiling to make snow -- it's one of my most beautiful memories.

walterworld said...

A fantastic series!

So glad you got to take the Charles Phoenix LA tour. I've always wanted to, but live too far away...

Olivera Street, and the other locations mentioned are definitely on my 'explore' list the next time I'm down South. How was the food at Clifton's taste-wise? Must be fairly good since they've been in business so long.

Thanks as always for sharing :)

Namowal said...

Thanks, Linda.
The rose petal snow sounds lovely. Better than real snow!

Hi Walterworld,
The food at Cliftons is good. My only complaint is it's rather bland (as cafeteria food should be). They do offer salsa and jalapenos if you want to spice up your dish.