As EPHS marks the 110 th anniversary of Echo Park Lake , We also honor the 40 th anniversary of a sister organization: The Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park. CCSEP was founded by a group of local activists, which was led by Grace E. Simons, who – perhaps more than any other individual – played a role in protecting Elysian Park from the best-laid plans of developers and in providing a template for INFORMS activism that many of us to this day.
Under Simons’ watch CCSEP successfully Fought off encroachments such as oil fields, an airport, a convention center, condominiums and numerous other construction efforts that would have chipped away masses of the park. At about 550 acres, Elysian Park is unique in offering a real experience of the outdoors to hundreds of thousands of hikers, soccer players, bird-watchers, picnic-ers, Wanderers, dogs and the occasional horse. In its present, hard-won form, the park offers solitude, community and beauty to the entire surrounding area. Simons’ most significant loss was in a battle to halt the expansion of the police academy.
Like an earlier progressive neighborhood, Estelle Lawton Lindsay, Simons worked as a journalist before devoting herself full-time to political activities. Raised in Chicago , She traveled to Shanghai , Where she worked for a French news agency, and where she also met her husband, Frank Glass, who was an organizer for the Communist Party. She also worked in New York . Simons and Glass moved to Los Angeles in 1939, Simons and for a time worked as an editor and reporter for the California Eagle, the city’s famous African-American newspaper.