MacArthur Park was originally known as Westlake Park in 1885 when Gaylord Wilshire purchased 35 miles of barley fields next to a swampy wasteland. The real estate entrepreneur cleared an unpaved road called Wilshire Boulevard which began at the intersection of "Park View" on the western edge of MacArthur Park. The neighborhood at that time was filled with mansions and grand hotels. In 1934, Wilshire Blvd. was extended east toward downtown Los Angeles straight through the middle of Westlake Park. Westlake Park was renamed MacArthur Park in 1942 in honor of General Douglas MacArthur. Over time the elegant mansions were replaced with apartment buildings and many residents left downtown to move out to the suburbs. In the 1970s, the area became home to many Latin American immigrants from Central America. MacArthur Park has endured tough times with a lot of crime but is currently undergoing a revitalization process.
- Video: Trapeze artist Richie Gaona
Levitt Pavilion at MacArthur Park
The restoration of the historic band shell at MacArthur Park by the non-profit organization Friends of the Levitt Pavilion has been instrumental in bringing the community back to life. The open lawn amphitheatre environment at the Levitt Pavilion now brings thousands of local residents and families to the park 50 evenings a year for free concerts and culturally diverse entertainment.
Frijolitos: Bilingual Page Turner
In 2002, The Barrios Family from the city of Montebello created "Frijolitos - Viva La Cultura!" which is a collection of educational, bilingual books and plush toys embracing Latino culture, Latin American history and touching on universal themes that all children can relate to and learn from. The "Frijolitos" business is family owned and operated. The culturally enriching products have been well received by the Los Angeles community and are available at multiple book stores and boutiques.
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