You would think that Echo Park’s Lady of the Lake statue – a 1930s sculpture formally known as Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles – would face in the direction of the lake. Nope. Instead the female figure, with arms raised and palms pointed outward, looks north away from the newly restored lake, leaving her backside and rump (top photo) to face the water.
As part of the nearly completed clean up and renovation of the lake and park, the statue was returned to her original spot at the tip of a peninsula that juts into the northern part of the lake. This where the statue had long stood until sometime in the mid 1980s when the statue, damaged and in need of repair, was put in a storage yard and a cinder block pump house built in the same location. When the statue was finally restored in the late 1990s, the decision was made to install the Lady of Lake in a new location, on the east side of the park, where the figure faced the water. The closure and rebuilding of the lake provided an opportunity to get rid of that pump house and move the Lady of the Lake back its original position and flip it around to face away from the water.
That did not sit right, however, with some residents, who argued that it would make more sense if the Lady of the Lake actually faced the lake. Even residents like Stephen Roullier, who provided a photo that showed the statue in its original spot facing away from the water, could see their point. Roullier, whose home overlooks the lake, told The Eastsider in early 2012:
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.
But, on Friday, as city officials gathered near the statue to reveal the date when the park would reopen to the public, the logic of having the Lady of Lake’s backside facing the water made more sense. By turning away from Echo Park Lake, the regal statue gazes upon visitors as they they walk down the peninsula to the lake, with the water, fountain and boat house serving as a dramatic back drop and photo op. It’s a welcome change of direction for the Lady of the Lake.