Los Angeles’ First Park
The oldest park in Los Angeles is 112 this year. It remains a park in perpetual peril. Bargain hunting, land-grabbers gaze over the green, rolling open space north of Civic Center and dream of putting this “free” land to some “useful” purpose.
Elysian Park Needs Saving
Before the Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park was formed, in 1965, the Pasadena Freeway had been permitted to split the park, and big-league baseball was lured to Los Angeles by an officially consolidated, unencumbered site, including parts of Chavez Ravine and Elysian Park. When downtown business presented a plan to take the Avenue of the Palms for the Los Angeles Convention Center, the community organized the Citizens Committee with Grace E. Simons as its first president and successfully stopped that development. This Citizens Committee has done its homework and survived over thirty years of voluntary community action. Elysian Park is still here and growing.
Elysian Park Celebrated
For All People
The principal objective of the Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park is to organize public support to preserve Elysian Park lands as public open space; to develop this environmental oasis for the recreational enjoyment of all the people of the Los Angeles region. The greatest danger to park survival is combined public indifference and special interest pressures to take park land for non-park purposes. All of the Citizens Committee’s volunteer energies are aimed at arousing public and official awareness of the value of saving the last of these Pueblo Lands set aside two centuries ago. This remaining fraction of the original 4 square league grant constitutes Los Angeles’ central city environmental and historical treasure, Elysian Park.
Citizens Committee Action Program
All the Committee’s revenues are derived exclusively from membership dues and contributions. There is no paid staff; no administrative overhead. Donated funds produce a newsletter and special bulletins mailed to keep committee members and supporters informed of matters affecting Elysian Park and park preservation. When necessary, the Committee has gone to court to obtain compliance with state environmental and park protection law. Particularly, the Committee has spent time and money to preserve Section 170 (b) ( 3) of the Los Angeles City Charter which reads: “All lands heretofore or hereafter set apart or dedicated as a public park shall forever remain to the use of the public inviolate;…(Emphasis added.)”
Trees are regularly purchased and planted in Elysian Park by members and friends as loving memorials to the living and dead. This activity is fostered in cooperation with other organizations to promote the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Commission reforestation program. Park personnel maintain these special gifts and replace them as necessary.
Neighborhood recreational events are encouraged by the Citizens Committee and co-sponsored with many groups and individuals who use and love the park. The Chinatown IOK Run and the Los Angeles Beautiful Arbor Day festivities are good examples.
Community Planning for Elysian Park
Execution of the 1971 Elysian Park Master Plan has received consistent support from the Citizens Committee. In 1983 the Grace E. Simons Lodge, Elysian Park, was dedicated to the first president of the Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park. The Lodge is a significant phase of execution of the Elysian Park Master Plan.
Text by Judith Jamison
Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park
1403 Macbeth Street
Echo Park, CA 90026