May 12, 2005
The small street is near Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. The street is more the size of an alley and traffic is not allowed. There are colorful stands selling trinkets and goods from Mexico, taco stands, historic Mexican restaurants, and carts selling hot churros. You will often see a strolling mariachi band or folkloric dancers dancing in the plaza. You will need to remind yourself you are not in Mexico, but in downtown Los Angeles. The atmosphere here is like a fiesta day or night.
The area is more than just Olvera Street. It's really a historic district of 27 buildings built around a square. You can see Los Angeles's first house or its first fire station. This is where it all grew from.
My favorite times here are any of the Mexican feast days and holidays. We always try to get down to Olvera Street for Dia De Los Muertos, when altars to dead relatives are placed all over the street. It's a sweet, somber festival when the dead are honored. A parade of dancing skeletons takes place during the afternoon. Cinco de Mayo is fun and festive here. It's gets crowded. My favorite feast is that of St Francis, when children bring their pets and farm animals for the traditional blessing. The street is lined with young faces holding dogs, cats, hamsters, snakes, and birds. There are farm kids with pigs, goats, ponies, and calves. It's one of the sweetest sights you can imagine.
This year on Dia De Los Muertos, an altar was set up to honor the war casualties from the invasion of Iraq. It honors both the U.S. soldiers killed and innocent Iraqi citizens who lost their lives. It was so touching that it has been left up after the feast day. It's added to each time another solider is killed. The hope is that this will be the first permanent monument honoring the dead in Iraq.
I love historic Olvera Street. It's a reminder to me how we have deep and long-standing Hispanic roots in this city. It's a colorful place that is full of life. No visit to the City of Angeles would be complete without a stop to see it. Our roots are deeper than the movie studios!
Parking can be tough down here. There is some street parking on Alameda if you are lucky enough to catch a free spot. However, the nearest lot is at Union Station. The post office across the street will allow parking in their lot on weekends they are not open.
From journal Movie Stars, Freeway and Beaches - LA