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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Searching for a concrete symbol of Echo Park

Project manager Scott Shimatsu (left) at Sunset Boulevard Streetscape meeing

If you had to pick one symbol for Echo Park, what would it be? The  now defunct lotus blossoms of Echo Park Lake?  The silent film makers and stars who once acted out scenes on neighborhood streets?  A line of customers at a taco truck?  A group of Echo Park residents were asked Thursday night to contemplate what icons and elements of neighborhood history could help guide and be reflected  in a $750,000 project to beautify a nearly mile-long stretch of Sunset Boulevard.   Some of that imagery will help create a theme for the project- which includes everything from new benches to pocket parks – and could end up being stamped into the gum-and beer-stained sidewalks and crosswalks of Echo Park.

Officials with the department of Bureau of Street Services presented five images−the bridge at Echo Park Lake, the Lotus Festival, a silent movie frame, a Pacific Electric trolley car logo and the Jensen’s Recreation Center sign−that could serve as inspiration for the Echo Park symbol and theme they are seeking. “The idea is to celebrate the rich history that you have, ” said project engineer Scott Shimatsu during a presentation at the Edendale Library.  But, not too surprisingly, some residents had other ideas.

Instead of one symbol, long-time resident Isa-Kae Meksin suggested sidewalk tiles devoted to the “different people who came to Echo Park.”  Another woman suggested expanding upon the Avenue of the Athletes, a series of plaques celebrating sports legends that were embedded into Sunset Boulevard sidewalks as part of a short-lived chamber of commerce project. That idea did not get much traction. “With all do respect,” said one man, “those plaques have always struck me as dated and kind of nonsensical.”

Shimatsu, the soft-spoken project engineer,  seemed taken with the figure of a bowler that crowns the Jensen’s Recreation Center sign.  “I thought the bowling man was pretty neat,” he said.  But with the sign already looming over Sunset Boulevard, maybe it would make more sense to promote a less well known part of the neighborhood’s past, such as its role in early film industry, suggested one audience member.

Malcom Schenot, whose apartment overlooks Sunset Boulevard, suggested the words “Echo Park”  be stamped into the curb. “I don’t think any one icon catches it but the name “Echo Park to me is iconic.” However, Luiza Mavropoulos warned that stamping the words “Echo Park” would probable prompt rival gangs to tag up the sidewalks with their own name.

Then there were some who thought the whole idea of stamped and decorative sidewalk and crosswalks was a waste of money.  After the city installed a painted and patterned cross walk across Sunset Boulevard and Alvarado Street, the  painted crosswalk had all but disappeared under gum and other stains.  “It just makes the sidewalks worse,” he said “It just makes them trashier, makes them washed out … it makes them look more unmaintained.”

What will the city architects and engineers do with all these comments? The answer will be coming soon since they need to finalize plans by the end of the month.

The Bureau of Street services is seeking guidance on how to spend $750,000 to beautify Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park. If you have any ideas, download and fill out the PDF form below and email to project designer Scott Shimatsu at scott.shimatus@lacity.org.

Survey of Sunset Boulevard Improvement by

 

Survey of Echo Park symbols by TheEastsider

19 comments

  1. The lady of the lake statue next to the lake would probably be the best symbol of the neighborhood.

  2. tacos arabe.
    whatever happened to them?
    they made some tasty tactos.

  3. How about the old dude who dances down the street from time to time with his discman and large headphones.

  4. I’ve always loved those great neon signs that designate San Diego neighborhoods. Would be great to have a lovely “Echo Park” sign hovering over Sunset Blvd at Echo Park.

    http://www.sandiegotraveltips.com/public/San_Diego_Neon_Neighborhood_Signs.cfm

  5. We have already have one for many years it called the “Echo Park Ducks”

  6. seriously. . .if you really look at how this works we end up paying extra for something that actually takes away from the character of the neighborhood.
    trash cans with hokey symbols or childrens paintings silkscreened onto bus benches only distract and make everything look trashy- everying doesn’t need to have a tag, brand, or symbol on it- we have enough of that

    Lets concentrate on nice old buildings, decent planting, and reasonably clean sidewalks.

    • i think you are right. hokey is the key here. just let it be and maybe tidy up.I once read about a program that they had in some town in the valley where they gave people money to tear down their chain link fences and put up wood fences. I could totally get behind something like that, but I really don’t need to see lilies and baseball players engraved into the sidewalk and covered with tags.

      • I don’t think they even ask these questions in “nice” neighborhoods. . . the just try to make “nice” upgrades.

        Why do they think we need bad murals, weak symbolism or childish cartoon characters in the place of tastefulness? The jensens building is gorgeuous, many of the stores all the way along sunset – new, old, latino, vegan. . .have a lot of visual charm and there are hardworking people investing thier sweat to make them so.

        The empty tree pockets, overflowing trash cans, and gum encrusted sidewalks are the easist to fix and will allow the beauty that we have to shine.

        • those are the same things that drive me crazy; and the abandoned garbage and furniture. the money could be better spent funding a clean up crew and some gardeners.

          maybe I’m crazy but I think that eradicating all of the invasive tree of heaven plants that have taken over the neighborhood would also add to the neighborhoods charm. they choke out everything and I have a mental association between those tree’s and neglect.

  7. @Robert, agree with you, simple fixes, plantings and clean ups are easiest and may be best. Am not fan of quickly-installed public art in form of murals (defaced isntantly), plaques (old brass plates on Sunset, nice idea of jocks I remember that went quickly nowhereville), or the ridiculous horse posts at Alvarado and Sunset, excuse me but what?

  8. oh please not the “Bang!” frame.

    My most resonant symbol of Echo Park is the giant rotating “Sad Foot Happy Foot.”

  9. If they hadn’t torn it down, I’d say the Pioneer Chicken stand.

  10. I always liked the street signs pointing to Dodger Stadium. Here’s my take reworking them into a symbol for the neighborhood. http://www.flickr.com/photos/palewire/8404889735/in/photostream/lightbox/

  11. Room 8 would be a great symbol…anyone who knew Room 8 knows what I’m talking about…..

  12. My best memories of EP and sunset were the clean classic look of the fifties store fronts and apartment entrances. The fronts are too gaudy. the side walks are cluttered with vendors and vagrants
    It is always necessary to remove all the old layers and cut out the rust before priming the bare surface so that the new top coat can look like the original and last longer. Point is the Blvd needs more than a surface clean up to make it as attractive a the days from the sports club

  13. So many ideas. Take a good picture all. With the developers really to building rip frm US our local open spaces take a good look and picture of Elysian Park . I predict it will be gone in twenty yrs . We keep voting in politicians like GARCETTI all VENDIDO to the developer an the almighty green dollar.

  14. LMAO thats my old neighbor Cullen Earhart. Great guy, crazier than all get out but an artist and a hoarder of his own art or things he could use for it
    . Guy takes trash from anywhere and makes something artistic out of it. Taking what he creates, scattering it throughout the neighborhood would give him some living space and add a unique charm to EP.

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