Roll down the window…
Los Angeles is a dynamic place. It’s expansive and diverse. Growth has largely been defined by the automobile the last sixty years, but we’ve been seeing an exciting change in recent times.
People want to get out of their cars. LA is growing upward, not Lancasterward. Social media has been a driving force to help forge a different identity from being stereotyped just as actors or surfers.
We’ve rediscovered that the common denominator is people. Hard working people like anywhere else. Wanting to share experiences and community that our stretched out development has denied. My goal is to help contract our universe a bit and to have a look at what is changing and where we’re going.
I chose to start with Elysian Park because it is one of the greatest unknowns even to those who encircle it. For a space that is surrounded by four freeways(Hollywood, I110, I5 and Glendale) and is only a mile from the edge of downtown, this could have been our central park.
Millions have been trapped in its main arteries inching our way into Dodger games, but I bet few of those have every gotten out of their cars to explore its inner workings. I was one of those.
Elysian Park is actually Los Angeles’ oldest park, yet it is not as renowned as Griffith Park, its sister to the north. It attracts a fair amount of locals, but its appeal somehow hasn’t become a destination the way some of our other parks and beaches have. It may not have as many amenities, but Elysian is ripe with many things our city is lacking. Hiking trails, picnic and barbecue areas, finely groomed playing fields and views. Views!
Yes! From the park you have one of the best looks at downtown. It makes you feel small with the scale of the skyline. I like the view so much, I chose it for my header.
To the east, below the view of the San Gabriel Mountains, lies the nearby hillsides of Montecito Heights and “Mount” Washington. Surprisingly, those urban mounds are not as developed as one would think. Looking across, it makes me think what Elysian Park originally looked like years ago. Dry grassland laced with intermittent shrubery.
Back to my original point, why so scarce? Crime might be seen as an issue. You will find your share of sketchy characters, but with the Police Academy centered within you can see the park is relatively a safe haven.
The roads are superlatives. The worst I’ve ever seen. Half of the potholes in the city must reside there.
To me, getting to the park is the biggest roadblock. Wayfinding isn’t so apparent and there’s more signage leading you to the stadium than the park. By bike, you’re likely to face some form of cars speeding while your way in.
There’s also the issue of traffic. Admittedly, it isn’t too terrible all the time, but when it’s bad, it’s Lohan level bad, especially coming from downtown. It’s enough to give you second thoughts about trying(me again).
My hope is that as people are migrating inward back into our urban core, that Elysian Park gets the proper attention it deserves. Los Angeles is in desperate need of open spaces. To quote Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”