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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Will Echo Park’s Lady of the Lake do an about face?

Photo by Stephen Roullier


View Echo Park Lady of the Lake’s original location in a larger map

When Echo Park Lake’s costly clean up is completed next year, one of the park’s icons – the Art Deco-style Lady of the Lake statue – will be restored and returned to her original location at the tip of a peninsula on the northern end of the lake. Most long time residents welcome the relocation of the nearly 80-year-old statue by Ada Mae Sharpless to its original and more prominent spot, currently occupied by concrete-block pump house. But, at last night’s update on the lake  clean up project, there was some conflicting views as to which way the Lady of the Lake should face when returned to her original home. While many residents remember that statue facing to the north, away from the water, a few residents at last night’s meeting insisted that the statue faced south in the direction of the lake. Would it not be better if the Lady of Lake  faced the water, said one woman.

But, as the above 1974 by Echo Park resident Stephen Roullier shows, the 14-foot-high Lady of the Lake faced north, away from the water.

Photo by Stephen Roullier

The statue – officially known as the “Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles” (Queen of the Angels) – was installed at the tip of the peninsula in the mid 1930s but was removed and put into storage during the 1980s. By the time the city had found money to restore and return the Lady of the Lake to public view, the pump house had been built on her original location.  As a result, the statue was installed on a less prominent spot on the east side of the lake near the boathouse.  At that location, the Lady of the Lake faced the water.

A rendering of what Echo Park Lake will look like after the clean up is completed shows the Lady of the Lake facing north, with her back to the lake. Roullier, who took the above photo and enjoys a lake view from his home, said it does not make much difference to him if the statue faces north or south:

On one hand, I think that if the statue is going back in its original location, it should face north away from the lake for reasons of historical accuracy and tradition. On the other hand, if there’s enough community sentiment for having her face the lake, I don’t think I’d be upset. When the statue was in its previous location (by the boathouse) she faced the lake and that made sense to my eyes.

It does make me wonder about the original decision making process over which way the statue would face. Most of all though, I’ll be happy to see that hideous pump house going away and the Lady returning to her rightful spot!



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8 comments

  1. If she’s supposed to be emerging from the lake she probably should face North, on the other hand if she’s going in for a dip and/or saw something she didn’t like then she could point South as though returning to the lake. Perhaps we could put her on a rotator and she could be spun abound as a sort of barometer of the concurrent direction of the city…”hurrah, she’s facing out”…”oh no, she’s going back” :-)

  2. Dont care which way she faces but I think she should be surrounded by water. That might give her enough protection from her fingers being broken off (again).

  3. Facing north she has the lake as her backdrop.

  4. Face her North! Photos of her with the lake in the background will be beautiful!

  5. Maybe she can coordinate with the happy foot/sad foot on Benton Way.

  6. There’s a nice look at her in the 1977 Richard Pryor movie “Which Way Is Up.” Facing north I believe.

  7. “Nuestra Reina De Los Angeles” should be placed bowed over facing the ground in shame and despair.

    She should prompt us to ponder how we have found a way to spend 50 or 60 million dollars on Echo Park when the lake was cleaned less than 20 years ago for under 1 million dollars.

    She is deeply troubled that we found a way to spend the entire Rec and Parks bond in just one place, when $65 million dollars would have been sufficient to clean Echo Park Lake and purchase the land for a new park at South L.A. Farms.

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