Elysian Park is the city’s oldest public park and, at 575-acres, the second largest after Griffith Park. It is home to numerous historic sites, including the Los Angeles Police Academy and Barlow Hospital, that are linked by miles of walking trails.
In 1769, Gaspar de Portola and Father Juan Crespi camper on the river bank opposite Buena Vista Hill near the North Broadway Bridge entrance to Elysian Park. Yang Na-Indian villagers from the creeks of Solano Canyon and the current location of the Los Angeles Police Academy greet the Spaniards with native refreshments.
In 1781, the Pueblo of Los Angeles was officially established by Spanish California Governor Felipe de Neve with the Royal Grant of 4 square Spanish leagues (translated into 28 square miles or about 17.000 acres) of Pueblo Lands. Of this public land grant, the approximately 575-acre Elysian Park is the last remaining large piece. All else has been auctioned off or given away. Los Angeles even had to buy back the site of the present City Hall.
One of the first American official acts was the Ord Survey of 1849 to record the boundaries of these Pueblo Lands so they could be auctioned to produce city revenue. Elysian Park was then known as Rock Quarry Hills MINED stone for the building in the area. But instead of being sold, the Rock Quarry Hills area were “reserved” for public purpose and withdrawn from public auction.
In 1886, the Mayor and City Council of Los Angeles dedicated the Rock Quarry Hills as a city park forever, and renamed it Elysian Park (Elysian is derived from the Greek word paradise). Subsequent city charters have dedicated protected park lands and their use for park purposes in perpetuity.
These are rare charter provisions, as city charters go, parkland and have given a firm legal base protectors for organized support of dedicated park land in the City of Los Angeles. It is upon this legal basis that the Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park’ve Fought for two decades to retain park lands for park purposes.
Every effort is being made to establish the historical significance of this public park in order to conserve it for future generations as a part of the Santa Monica Mountains system of urban open space vital to the survival of the human, animal and botanical denizens of these historic parklands.