The Los Angeles Plaza: Sacred and Contested Space

By William David Estrada | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
Revolution and Public Space

By the beginning of the twentieth century, the Plaza was once again transformed. In 1898 Henry E. Huntington purchased the Los Angeles Railway Company (LARY). Two years later, he formed the Pacific Electric Railway Company, the electric streetcar system that replaced cable cars in 1885.1 Together these companies provided Los Angeles with mass transportation until the mid-twentieth century. In 1903–1904 the first and largest of fourteen substations built to supply electric power for Huntington’s LARY (and known for their resounding noise) was constructed at the Plaza. The LARY operated the narrow-gauge track, yellow streetcars that provided transportation for metropolitan Los Angeles between 1896 and the 1960s, and was considered the best public transportation system in the world.

As real estate development in Los Angeles expanded southwest toward Central Park (later renamed Pershing Square), the Plaza’s function as a spatially controlled “garden park” led to its reclamation by surrounding industries, a diverse community of recent immigrants, and the city’s poor and disenfranchised who settled near this oldest section of the city. This fact was noted on the morning of March 11, 1899, when John Scott appeared in court with his head bandaged and his shirt covered with blood, as a result of a severe beating administered by Minor M. Mead, the gardener at Plaza Park.

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The Los Angeles Plaza: Sacred and Contested Space
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter One - Cultural and Historical Origins 15
  • Chapter Two - The Rise and Decline of the Mexican Plaza 43
  • Chapter Three - From Ciudad to City 81
  • Chapter Four - Homelands Remembered 109
  • Chapter Five - Revolution and Public Space 133
  • Chapter Six - Reforming Culture and Community 169
  • Chapter Seven - Parades, Murals, and Bulldozers 203
  • Chapter Eight - Politics and Preservation 231
  • Chapter Nine - The Persistence of Memory 259
  • Notes 271
  • Bibliography 311
  • Index 329
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