The historic district of LA, with the oldest buildings.It’s home to Olvera Street, the oldest street in LA, celebrating the city’s Spanish – Mexican past with food and shops.
The Pueblo de Los Ángeles was the second town created during the Spanish colonization of the Alta California portion of the territory of Las Californias. El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles de Porcincula—’The Town of Our Lady the Queen of Angels of the Little Portion’ was founded twelve years after the first Spanish presidio, the Presidio of San Diego, and mission, Mission San Diego de Alcalá, were established in 1769. The original settlement consisted of eleven families recruited mostly from Sonora y Sinaloa Province. As new settlers arrived and soldiers from the surrounding presidios retired to civilian life in Los Angeles, the town became the principal urban center of southern Alta California, whose social and economic life revolved around the raising of livestock and the ranches devoted to this.
Located on the coastal plains surrounding the Los Angeles River, the town became a cattle ranching center, expanding on the role during the California Gold Rush. It was the center for the Alta California ranchos in the surrounding regions, further developing shipping ability from San Pedro Bay. In the latter 19th century the development of Los Angeles shifted the business district and cultural center of town to the south, present-day Downtown Los Angeles, leaving the Pueblo district to decline, and by 1900 it was a less favored area, with the Chinatown district and other ethnic “ghettos”, and the blight of new railroad adjacent industrial areas.
A 1920s restoration drive led by Christine Sterling began reviving the historic area, starting with Olvera Street. Today the Pueblo’s original outline is preserved by the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument. Among its saved and restored buildings is the oldest standing residence in Los Angeles City, the 1818 Avila Adobe built by Francisco Avila who owned Rancho Las Cienegas -“mid-Wilshire area” and a successful cattle enterprise. Across Olvera Street stands the 1887 Eloisa Martinez de Sepulveda House, which now is the Los Angeles Plaza Historic District Visitors Center. The 1939 construction of the significant transit hub and architectural landmark, the Los Angeles Union Station east of the old Plaza, added to the Pueblo area’s reinvigoration.
Of archaeological interest is the discovery of sections of the original brick-lined Zanja Madre-the Mother Ditch, which was a ‘surface and underground’ gravity-fed canal and aqueduct, that brought water from the Rio Porciuncula-Los Angeles River near the Arroyo Seco confluence, to the colonial pueblo and later the ‘American’ city into the latter 19th century.