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LA Plaza Opens Its Doors to LA's Mexican History

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, April 15, 2011, at 04:55PM
LA Plaza Ribbon Cutting Eric Richardson / blogdowntown

LA Plaza's innaugural exhibit, LA Starts Here!, speaks to the role Mexicans and Mexican Americans in Los Angeles from its founding in 1781 to the present.

If their walls could talk, Main Street's Vickrey-Brunswig Building and Plaza House could tell quite the tale of Los Angeles' evolution. Two of the city's oldest structures, the structures have stood since 1888 and 1883, respectively.

They make an appropriate home for LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, a cultural center dedicated to Los Angeles' Mexican American heritage. After a decade in development, the center's doors finally open to the public on Saturday.

Intentionally named a "cultural center" and not a "museum," the story the center sets out to tell is an ongoing one, stretching from the city's founding in 1781 to the present-day. That range is encompassed in inaugural exhbition LA Starts Here!, which occupies the ground floor of the two buildings.

Upstairs, Calle Principal offers children an interactive view of life in early L.A., with aspects such as fashion and medicine the focus of "shops" along the recreated Main Street.

It is the center's garden that has been in the news in recent months as Native American groups protested the excavation of bones from what had been one of the city's earliest cemeteries. The conflict continues, but tight security made sure no protesters would get near a Friday morning ribbon cutting.

The morning's featured speaker was County Supervisor Gloria Molina, the woman who has championed the LA Plaza project for the last ten years. Speaking in Spanish, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa praised Molina as a "luchadora" who didn't know the meaning of the word no.

Tickets for Saturday's opening day festivities are sold out, but Sunday tickets are still available. The center will be open noon to 7pm, Wednesday through Monday. Admission is $9 for adults and $5 for children five and over.


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