Marvel at the African American community’s remarkable contributions to L.A.
In celebration of Black History Month, Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin released an interactive infographic showcasing all the key African American Heritage sites across the city. The “African American Heritage Across Los Angeles,” highlights 28 public places, monuments and institutions that are designated Historic-Cultural Monuments or those that were significant in the development of the community in the city.
“The African American community’s influence on Los Angeles has been indelible, from the days of Biddy Mason to the 20-year tenure of Mayor Tom Bradley and the muralists whose public art makes our neighborhoods so vibrant today,” Galperin said.
From private residences and churches to the LAX tower and murals, these sites paint a powerful picture of the African-Americn community’s contribution to the vibrant, culturally diverse urban landscape we know and love today.
Along with the map, the historical background of the Black population in Los Angeles is outlined, starting with the 44 pobladores who moved to the area in 1781.
Below is a map we’ve created of selected sites, followed by a visual gallery. You can find the full map and accompanying resources here.
1. LAX Theme Building
Paul Revere Williams was the first Black member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and one of L.A.’s biggest landmark designers with over 3,000 buildings in his portfolio. He was one of the designers of the futuristic Theme Building (1961), which became an icon of modernity and helped position Los Angeles as the city of tomorrow.
2. Watts Towers
The Watts Towers in South Los Angeles is a collection of 17 interconnected sculptures hand-made by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia. He diligently took 33 years from 1921 to 1954 to complete this marvel that is easily one of the most unique structures in the city. The Towers are designated as National Historic Landmark and a California Historical Landmark.
3. Obama Boulevard
In 2018, Rodeo Road was renamed Obama Boulevard in honor of the former president. “For every child who will drive down this street and see the name of the first Black President of our country, this boulevard will serve as a physical reminder that no goal is out of reach and that no dream is too big.” – L.A. City Council President, Herb Wesson.
4. Ralph Bunche House
Ralph J. Bunche was the first African American to win a Nobel peace prize, which was awarded for his work as a mediator during the Arab-Israeli War. This humble Victorian home that Bunche grew up in, was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1976.
5. The Great Wall of Crenshaw Crenshaw Wall
This 800-foot mural painted by graffiti collective Rocking The Nation is a visual depiction of the history of Black people from inception to the journey here in America. It features prominent Black figures like Dr. King, Malcolm X, Frederick Douglass and the women of the Black Panther Party. It’s a beautiful history lesson and a perfect way to celebrate the people that shaped the nation.
6. City of Dreams/River of History Mural
This eighty-foot mural in the East Portal at Union Station is by artist Richard Wyatt. It features paintings of Native Americans, settlers of the LA basin as and contemporary Angelenos.
7. Lincoln Theater
This South Central architectural gem was the biggest of five theaters in the city that was created exclusively for the Black community between 1927 through the 1950s. It’s where many of the jazz greats like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Bessie Smith performed.
8. African American Firefighter Museum
The former Fire Station 30 is one of two fire stations in Los Angeles where African Americans were able to work. Today it’s a museum with vintage fire equipment, pictures, memorabilia and artifacts representing African American firefighters around the Unites States.
9. Tom Bradley Room at Los Angeles City Hall
Named after the city’s 38th mayor, theTom Bradley Room on the 27th floor of City Hall leads out to the observation deck.
10. Masjid Bilal Islamic Center
Masjid Bilal Islamic Center is a religious, educational and business complex that has been a cultural hub in Los Angeles for over 60 years now.
Featured Image: Thomas Tunsch (Wikimedia Commons)
Featured Image: Metro