¡Feliz Cumpleaños Los Angeles! Grab your history hats and begin at the Birthplace of Los Angeles, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument. Founded in 1781 by Spanish Governor Felipe de Neve, El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles or The Town of the Queen of the Angels, the settlement celebrates the diversity of its initial Native American, African American, Chinese, Spanish, Mexican, Italian and French inhabitants. Las Angelitas del Pueblo offer free 50-minute walking tours, Tuesday through Saturday at 10am, 11am, and noon.
Mexican Dancer at Olvera Street Festival — Photo courtesy of Ray_from_LA
Visit Avila Adobe, the oldest building in L.A., built in 1818 by Don Francisco Avila, now a museum preserved in all its 1840’s glory. Revitalized by socialite Christine Sterling in 1926, Olvera Street’s Mexican Marketplace beckons visitors and locals with souvenirs, clothing, and art. Nosh on arguably some of the best Mexican food in L.A. at La Golondrina Mexican Café, established in 1930, the first restaurant in the city to serve authentic Mexican cuisine.
Stay downtown (just across the street!) to explore a different culture with its own historical story of turmoil and eventual resurgence. L.A.’s original China City, opened in 1880, was the first Chinatown in the United States. In 1838, China City was demolished to make way for the arrival of Union Station, known as “The Last of the Great Railway Stations.” Union Station serves as backdrop location to many current shows, films, and video games notably 24, Grand Theft Auto, and Collateral. New Chinatown opened amidst great hoopla and boasts a multitude of shops selling herbs, traditional bazaars and over 20 modern art galleries.
Take a stroll through the Chinese American Museum, located in the Garnier Building, the only edifice still remaining from the original Chinatown. Find yourself in Chinatown on the first Saturday of the month? Then join the special “Undiscovered Chinatown Walking Tour” for a 2 ½ hour off-the-beaten-path tour exploring temples, shops, and hidden gems. Chow down on some of the best dim sum in the city at Empress Pavilion, a chaotic yet fun place to fuel up on traditional pork buns, shrimp noodles, and beef meatballs.
Point Fermin Lighthouse & Garden — Photo courtesy of lpoint&shoot
Venture east to the Pacific Ocean to discover Point Fermin Lighthouse, San Pedro Bay’s first navigational light, built in 1874. In 2003, after a massive restoration backed by city and state funding, the historic lighthouse opened to the general public. Guided tours led by Point Fermin Lighthouse Society volunteers are offered every hour from 1-3pm Tuesday through Sunday. Fancy yourself an architecture aficionado? You’ll appreciate the “Stick Style” Victorian design details like gables roofs, exposed rafters, and wooden wall sheaths. Take advantage of free admission; donations accepted.
L.A.’s diverse and relatively young history shines in its cuisine, architecture, and people. Let tales of El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles take you back in time to uncover the past and marvel at the urban metropolis you see today!