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Written by Karina Muñiz

Pico Union Walking Tour  (Credit: Los Angeles Conservancy Staff)

Pico Union Walking Tour (Credit: Los Angeles Conservancy Staff)

Oprime aquí para la versión en español.

As Community Outreach Coordinator for the Los Angeles Conservancy, I am fortunate to be able to work in vibrant, diverse communities throughout the county, and one such neighborhood is Pico Union. Rich in architectural and social history, Pico Union is one of L.A.’s most architecturally distinctive neighborhoods, with two National Register Historic districts and a wide range of building types. The area was developed between 1880 and 1930 as a suburb of young Los Angeles. As the city grew, Pico Union evolved from its suburban origins to an increasingly diverse, urban neighborhood. In 2004, the area became the city’s nineteenth Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) – the city’s term for historic district. In addition to its unique architecture, Pico Union has a rich cultural heritage woven by generations of immigrants who came to the city in search of a better life – from European immigrants and Midwestern US transplants at the turn of the century, to Mexican Americans in the early twentieth century, to Central American, Cuban, Mexican and Korean populations today. Each community has shaped the built environment, and added new layers of history to the neighborhood.

To celebrate this vibrant community, the LA Conservancy launched its new bi-lingual Self-Guided Walking Tour at a Kick Off event and Community Fair on March 21st, 2009, in partnership with the Pico Union Branch Library. At our press conference, Councilmember Ed Reyes spoke and we got great coverage in the LA Times and La Opinion.

At the community fair, we had over a dozen local groups present to provide residents with information about housing, legal and social services, adult literacy, youth programs and more.

Children gather at the community fair. Photo: Jason Gutierrez

Photo: Jason Gutierrez

Residents were able to access information on important community resources, while at the same time learn more about the architectural and cultural history of their neighborhood. The community fair was also an opportunity to bring local groups together, and from that event discussions on doing a short documentary on the neighborhood and starting a community garden are in the works. Our most popular booth had to be the face painting for the kids, and they also enjoyed the scavenger hunt activities they could do while taking the walking tour. We had community leaders join us as docents in leading the tours – one of the tours being in Spanish.

Several sites reflecting the social history of the neighborhood are also featured on the tour. For example, Angelica Lutheran Church, originally founded by Swedish immigrants in 1888, played a key role in the LA Sanctuary Movement in the 1980s by providing shelter to Central American refugees facing deportation after fleeing civil war in their home countries.* The Institute of Popular Education of Southern California (IDEPSCA) building was once known as “El Refugio”, and through the nonprofit group El Rescate, sheltered more than 200 refugee families in the eighties. Today IDEPSCA maintains the legacy of the building by continuing the tradition of community empowerment. This event and tour sought to celebrate landmarks and historic resources that reflect an inclusive history of diverse communities, such as Pico Union, that have formed and contributed to LA’s unique legacy. The Conservancy is continuing to partner with community groups in Pico Union, such as the Pico Union Housing Corporation, by building a curriculum for workers interested in learning rehabilitation techniques for historic homes, and by engaging young artists who are learning about the history of their neighborhood and contributing to the community’s character through public art.

Paseo auto-guiado de Pico Union y la Feria Comunitaria

Karina Muñiz

Photo: Cindy Olnick, Los Angeles Conservancy

Photo: Cindy Olnick, Los Angeles Conservancy

Como Coordinadora de Enlace Comunitario para el Los Angeles Conservancy, me siento honrada de poder trabajar con vibrantes comunidades multi-étnicas por todo el condado -- Pico Union siendo una de ellas. Con una rica arquitectura e historia social, Pico Union es uno de los barrios mas interesantes de Los Angeles desde del punto de vista arquitectónico, contando con dos distritos designados en el Registro Nacional de Lugares Históricos y exhibiendo una gran variedad de tipos de edificios. Esta zona surgió entre 1880 y 1930 como un suburbio del Los Angeles emergente. A medida que crecía la ciudad, Pico Union se desarrolló dejando atrás sus origines suburbanas para transformarse crecientemente en un barrio urbano multi-étnico. En 2004, esta zona se convirtió en el decimonoveno distrito histórico (HPOZ). Ademas de su arquitectura sin igual, Pico Union posee un rico legado cultural tejido por varias generaciones de inmigrantes que llegaron a la ciudad buscando una vida mejor. Estos eran inmigrantes europeos, migrantes internos provenientes de la parte centro-occidental de Estados Unidos que llegaron a principios del siglo veinte, Mexicanos-Americanos que también llegaron a principios del siglo veinte, hasta hoy en día las poblaciones Centro Americanas, Cubanas, Mexicanas, y Coreanas. Cada una de estas comunidades ha transformado el ambiente físico y agregado nuevas facetas a la historia del barrio.

Para honrar esta vibrante comunidad, el Los Angeles Conservancy inauguró un paseo auto-guiado bilingüe durante una feria comunitaria que tuvo lugar el 21 de marzo de 2009 en colaboración con la biblioteca de Pico Union. Durante una rueda de prensa, el concejal Ed Reyes profirió un discurso, y todo el evento fue cubierto por el Los Angeles Times y por La Opinion.

Photo: Jason Gutierrez

Photo: Jason Gutierrez

Más de una docena de grupos locales asistieron a la feria comunitaria y dieron informaciones a los residentes sobre asuntos tales como vivienda, servicios legales y sociales, alfabetización de adultos, programas para jovenes, etc. Los residentes pudieron obtener información sobre los recursos brindados a la comunidad, y al mismo tiempo aprender más sobre la historia arquitectónica y cultural de su barrio. La feria comunitaria también ofreció una oportunidad para reunir diferentes grupos locales. De ese evento surgieron discusiones en torno a una idea de realizar un documental sobre el barrio y también sobre un jardín comunitario – ambos proyectos están siendo implementados. Nuestro quiosco más popular fue aquel donde los niños se pintaron el rostro y también disfrutaron otras actividades. Como uno de los paseos fue realizado enteramente en español pudimos contar con la presencia de líderes comunitarios.

En el paseo figuraron varios sitios que reflejaban la historia social del barrio. Por ejemplo la Iglesia Luterana Angélica fundada inicialmente en 1888 por inmigrantes suecos, jugó un importante papel en el movimiento santuario en Los Angeles en la década de los años ochenta cuando abrió un albergue para recibir a los refugiados centro americanos que corrían el riesgo de ser deportados luego de haber huido de las guerras civiles que asolaba a sus países de origen.** El edificio que actualmente alberga al Instituto de Educación Popular del Sur de California (IDEPSCA), fue conocido una vez como “el refugio”. Gracias al grupo El Rescate, más de 200 familias refugiadas fueron albergadas allí durante los ochenta. Hoy, el IDEPSCA perpetúa esa herencia actuando como una entidad que obra a favor del empoderamiento de la comunidad. Este evento y el paseo buscaban honrar los sitios y recursos históricos que reflejan una historia inclusiva de todas las comunidades que formaron y contribuyeron al crecimiento singular de Los Angeles. Pico Union fue una de estas. El Los Angeles Conservancy sigue colaborando con los grupos comunitarios de Pico Union, tales como el Pico Union Housing Corporation (PUHC) (http://www.puhc.org/), en proyectos como la creación de un currículo para trabajadores interesados por aprender las técnicas de rehabilitación de residencias históricas. Y también esta trabajando con jóvenes artistas que se interesan por la historia de su barrio. A su vez, estos últimos contribuyen a elevar el perfil de su comunidad con su arte público.

* Part of an anti-war campaign protesting U.S. foreign policy in Central America, the Sanctuary Movement started in the Southwest and grew into a network of hundreds of religious congregations that provided shelter to refugees facing deportation.

** El Movimiento Santuario comenzó en el suroeste de Estados Unidos como parte de una campaña contra la guerra y como una protesta contra la política estadounidense en America Central. Este creció rápidamente, convirtiéndose en una red conformada por cientos de congregaciones religiosas que ofrecieron refugio a los inmigrantes que vivían bajo la amenaza de ser deportados.


Karina Muñiz is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Los Angeles Conservancy, in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Karina Muñiz: Coordinadora de Enlace Comunitario, Para la Conservación de Los Ángeles, en colaboración con el Fideicomiso Nacional para la Preservación Histórica.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

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By Ti Hays
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President Clinton created this 486,149-acre monument in 2001 through a proclamation authorized by the Antiquities Act of 1906.

Last Friday, in a positive development, a federal district court in Arizona reversed a previous decision that held that President Clinton had exceeded his authority by including management directives in the proclamation for the Sonoran Desert National Monument.

The case began when an environmental group — the Western Watersheds Project — filed a lawsuit claiming that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had taken too long to prepare a resource management plan and grazing suitability analysis for the Sonoran Desert. President Clinton created the 486,149-acre monument in 2001 through a proclamation authorized by the Antiquities Act of 1906.

Passed by Congress in 1906, the Antiquities Act allows presidents to establish as national monuments “historic landmarks and other objects of historic and scientific interest” located on federal land. Over the past century, presidents have used this authority to protect some of our nation’s most revered landmarks and landscapes, including the Grand Canyon, Casa Grande and Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado — a national monument with the highest known density of archaeological sites in the entire country.

In its February decision, however, the court ruled that although the Antiquities Act permitted President Clinton to establish the monument, it did not provide him with the authority to direct how the monument should be managed through the terms of the monument’s proclamation. Based on this reasoning, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint for lack of standing.

Because the decision had the potential to affect the management of national monuments throughout the country, the National Trust for Historic Preservation filed an amicus curiae brief with the court this past April in support of the plaintiff’s request for reconsideration. A coalition of law professors led by former Solicitor of the Interior Department, John Leshy, submitted a similar brief. The court agreed to reconsider the case in May, and, last week, issued a new opinion upholding the president’s authority to govern national monuments through the directives of national monument proclamations.

Of obvious importance to the plaintiff, the court’s decision also removes a jurisdictional hurdle in another lawsuit involving Clinton-era national monuments. In January, the National Trust and several conservation organizations claimed in a lawsuit over the final resource management plans for Arizona’s Grand Canyon-Parashant and Vermilion Cliffs National Monuments that BLM had failed to comply with several directives of the monuments’ proclamations.

This new decision should pave the way for that lawsuit to proceed to the merits stage.

>> Download the National Trust's Amicus Curiae Brief
>> Download the Federal District Court's Final Opinion

Ti Hays is the public lands counsel for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

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Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Pardon Me Sir, But Can I Queer Your Space?

Posted on: June 16th, 2009 by Guest Writer 10 Comments

 

Dolores Park

By Elizabeth Boylan

At what point does a neighborhood evolve into a full-out "gayborhood?"

Is it defined by a critical mass of queer people living in it or utilizing a particular space? I’ve always found rainbows to be fun and festive; perhaps we could calculate the number and size of rainbow flags in any given area to determine some sort of queer numerical value.

Certainly, the Castro in San Francisco ranks high on both of these standards of measure, and is one of the more well-known gayborhoods in America. I am a lesbian and spend a fair amount of time there, but I would not call it “my gayborhood.” See, as far as the LGBT community is concerned, the Castro runs heavy on the “G,” and relatively light on the “L,” “B” and “T.” It is primarily – and at times exclusively – a gay male-oriented space.

In my opinion, not all "gayborhoods" exist as discrete neighborhoods with clear borders. Instead, some subsist in fluidity, often occupying space in a temporary or transitory manner.

Gayborhoods can exist within, around and between any neighborhood. Places and spaces that aren’t explicitly recognized as gay can function as queer meeting areas. A strong showing of lesbians (or at least “potential lesbians”) at my weekend farmers market colors my shopping excursion queer. A gay rugby team or a women’s flag football league steps on a field and converts an ordinary patch of grass into a hub of queer activity. The individuals present transform these benign places into queer spaces, and the actors and participants of these events may feel a sense of community in this momentary queering.

Local gay bars often host “ladies nights,” but as these nights occur only for selected hours each week or month, their presence is not necessarily inscribed on the physical place. I would be hard pressed to identify a permanent, physical manifestation of the queerness of San Francisco’s Dolores Park, yet thousands of lesbians descend upon its grassy hills prior to the annual San Francisco Dyke March. Similarly, San Francisco Trans March organizers stage pre-march activities and performances for transgender folks, friends and allies in the park. Walk through that same space on the other 363 non-lesbian/trans days of the year, and you'll find a diverse, eclectic and eccentric mix of people that I would still consider “queer,” regardless of their sexual orientation.

These places, while not marked exclusively as gay, provide the opportunity for a variety of gayborhoods to coalesce temporarily or informally.

Many gay communities exist without the possession of buildings forming a unique neighborhood. We do not necessarily live in separate enclaves, as queer is but one of many dynamic identities we claim. However, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer identity becomes more salient in transient queer spaces.

While this fluidity provides flexibility and allows us to informally co-opt space, it can also render our places invisible in the built environment. That's why an inclusive analysis of gayborhoods will recognize the importance of elusive and amorphous communities, as well as those with physical borders.

Elizabeth Boylan is the administrative assistant for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Western Office in San Francisco.

rainbow_crawler

Join the National Trust for Historic Preservation as we celebrate Pride + Preservation throughout the month of June. Want to help us show some pride in place? Upload a This Place Matters photo of a building, site or neighborhood that matters to you and your local LGBT community.

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Pride & Revitalization Help 'Naptown' Wake Up

Posted on: June 11th, 2009 by Guest Writer 1 Comment

 

tpm_indianapolis

Written by Nicholas Murphy

A lot of people have this image of Indianapolis as a very generic, all-American city, with Midwestern values and not much in the way of culture and diversity. Indeed, for the longest time, the city had the nickname of “Naptown,” mainly because the downtown was one of those where it seemed like the sidewalks would roll up after 5 p.m.

When I first moved to Indianapolis in 1993, I was very much the country boy moving to the “big” city. Of course, I had never really felt at home in the country for things that came screaming out of the closet later, but for me, Indianapolis was home from the very beginning. Of course, at that time, the “Naptown” derogatory was very much in effect. The downtown was dreary and pretty desolate, with some shining spots, but in 1996 all of that began to change. Not only is that the year I told my best friend that I was gay, but that was also the year that Circle Center Mall opened in downtown, which marked the beginning of a makeover that has remade Indianapolis into a shining example of downtown revitalization.

metroprideBefore that, when I was just a young guy coming to grips with his sexuality, I had heard of places in and around Massachusetts Avenue (Mass Ave), gay bars and other establishments, where people like me could go and be themselves. Of course, at that time, my idea of a gay bar was pretty much the Blue Oyster Bar from the Police Academy movies, but still, it seemed like this exotic idea. Luckily, since I was underage at the time, there was a coffeehouse, The Abbey, at the corner of Mass Ave and College, which was a hangout for gay youth. So, with my school books in tow, I went down to study and take it all in. That was my first foray in to the gay life of Indianapolis, and while I was still an outsider looking in, it was great to be able to see people younger than me be so comfortable with themselves.

... Read More →

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Local Effort and Expertise Yields a New Landmark in Augusta, GA

Posted on: June 10th, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

Written by Robyn A. Mainor

The National Historic Landmark plaque unveiling: Robert Osborne, First Vice President, Historic Augusta, Ray Rivera and Vicki Dixon, United States Department of the Interior, Mark McDonald, President and CEO, Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation; Erick Montgomery, Executive Director, Historic Augusta.

The National Historic Landmark plaque unveiling: Robert Osborne, First Vice President, Historic Augusta, Ray Rivera and Vicki Dixon, United States Department of the Interior, Mark McDonald, President and CEO, Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation; Erick Montgomery, Executive Director, Historic Augusta.

As a Partners in the Field representative, it is rewarding to participate in events spotlighting commitment to preservation of resources saved through local efforts and expertise. Friday, May 15th, 2009, was a long-awaited day for Historic Augusta, Inc. as the Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson was officially unveiled as Augusta’s newest National Historic Landmark. Announced in October 2008, Historic Augusta was eager to have the celebration during the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s Annual Meeting and Spring 2009 Ramble so preservationists from across the state would have a unique event to attend.

Augusta is home to five other National Historic Landmarks including the Old Medical College of Georgia and the Augusta Canal Industrial District. A crowd of more than seventy out of town guests and local enthusiasts gathered on the front lawn of 419 Seventh Street to watch as Mr. Ray Rivera and Ms. Vicki Dixon, both from the Department of the Interior, revealed the plaque and congratulated Historic Augusta’s Executive Director, Erick D. Montgomery, and First Vice President, Mr. Robert Osborne. After the ceremony, tours were given for all those who attended to highlight the award winning restoration which was completed in 2001, ten years after the house was purchased in 1991.

The Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson.

The Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson.

The Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson was built in 1859 by local stove merchant, Aaron H. Jones, a native of Eastport, Maine. The new house was sold for $10,000 in February, 1860 to the Trustees of the First Presbyterian Church. The Wilson Family moved into their new home soon after it was purchased. At the time, the family included the parents, Joseph and Janet Woodrow Wilson, also known as Jessie and Jeanie, two sisters, Marion (9) and Annie (6), and three year old Thomas Woodrow Wilson, called Tommy. Later, in 1867, a fourth child would be born in the house, Joseph R. Wilson, Jr. The house is two and one-half stories high, built of solid brick, and enhanced with a small portico on the front with balconies on either side. It had gas lights, 12 foot ceilings with plaster moldings and a fireplace in every room. Detached in the back yard was a two story brick service building that contained a modern 1860s kitchen, a laundry room, a wood storage room and two servant's rooms on the second floor. Across the back yard was a carriage house with a second floor hayloft where Tommy met with his friends of the Lightfoot Baseball Club. Here they practiced parliamentary procedure and operated under a set of bylaws drawn up by the future president. The Wilsons lived in the house for almost eleven years, witnessing the Civil War and Reconstruction.

The Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson is open for tours Tuesday through Saturday 10am thru 5pm. More information can be found through their website, www.wilsonboyhoodhome.org and www.historicaugusta.org.

Robyn A. Mainor is the Preservation Services Director for Historic Augusta, Inc., and a Field Representative in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

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Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.