Highland Park welcomes a new park to the neighborhood

A photo posted by The Pop-Hop (@thepophop) on

HIGHLAND PARK — Throngs of kids and adults swarmed over York Park today during a grand opening celebration and street festival for the $3 million park and playground, complete with a rattlesnake slide and outdoor xylophone. But this is not your typical park.

Unlike a traditional park, there’s little in the way of grass or playing fields. Instead, York Park, built on the site of a former gas station at York Boulevard and Avenue 50, features several play areas with orange and teal-colored shock absorbent pavement, a mini amphitheater and musical play equipment. The relatively small park reflects the many ideas proposed during a lengthy series of community meetings and votes.

Construction on the park began last year, and workers will still on the site on Friday trying to finish the park in time for today’s grand opening.


A part of the old gas station, at right, was recycled for use in the new park | Olivia Dibs

New park in York Blvd. In #highlandpark!

A photo posted by Valentina Silva (@eastsidefoodbites) on

Outdoor musical instruments attracted adults and kids | Olivia Dibs

Outdoor musical instruments attracted adults and kids | Olivia Dibs

A photo posted by SpinaDesign (@spinadesign) on

A rattlesnake slide and lookout proved popular | Olivia Dibs

A rattlesnake slide and lookout proved popular | Olivia Dibs

A four-legged visitor relaxes on one of the few patches of grass in the park | Olivia Dibs

A four-legged visitor relaxes on one of the few patches of grass in the park | Olivia Dibs

Photo by Olivia Dibs

Photo by Olivia Dibs

Olivia Dibs is a freelance journalist and aspiring TV producer. After moving to Los Angeles from the East Coast, she now calls 90042 home, and hopes to for years to come


  1. Fail. I can’t drink a beer here without looking like a pedophile.

  2. Thoroughly enjoyed today. It was great to see the community come out to celebrate the grand opening of this park. It was a wonderful sight to see such a diverse group and flavor represented here. That’s what I love so much about Highland Park it’s truly a melting pot. The event had a feeling of a small town within a big city truly a community feel.

  3. I see a lot of happy kids and parents. Excellent job, HLPNC and Jose Huizar

  4. Great day for Highland Park. The park is awesome and a wonderful addition to York blvd. Thanks to everybody that organized today– very nice event…

  5. I had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was well run and vending was fun. Can’t wait for the next one!

  6. That park sucks. It’s basically an outdoor Chuck E. Cheese. We need an outdoor, green space with plants and trees and a place to rest. I’m so disappointed. This looks like a mix of Calabasas meets Disney World. What is wrong with good, old fashioned nature????

    • I love nature too and there is a lot of efforts going on the preserve green space. This used to be a gas station. And last time I checked we are still in a mega drought. So I think they had that in mind when designing this space. This is for the kids and it totally captures their imagination. Despite all the naysayers they loved the snake.

    • I’m with you. While better than what it was, this is of absolutely no use to an adult with no small children. A park that I can sit and relax in would not cost 3 million dollars – especially when you consider that this playground will likely be torn down and replaced 10 years from now.

      Grass or no grass, people of all ages can make use of open space.

    • So TRUE!!!

    • This park has everything for its size. Actually it has more things than parks 10x its size. It’s not just for kids. It’s for everybody. Have you been there or just just judging from the photos.? I has:
      – Playground for kids
      – chess/checkers tables (which in Glendale are used by senior citizens)
      – free book library
      – built-in musical instruments (which where popular with teenagers)
      – small amphitheatre for performances, readings, screenings
      – adult exercise equipment
      – bathrooms
      – benches to sit and relax

      • Exactly. Waaaaay to much stuff for a pocket park. Look, I’m happy for the kids in the hood. All I’m saying is this is not a park many of us looking for a little nature and a a little respite will be going to. I think there’s a lot of us here in HP who were looking forward to lots of trees, native planting, and a quiet place to escape the city for a minute, but the world doesn’t revolve around me, so it’s not the end of the world. It just would have been nice to see some balance. There’s just a while ton of stuff jammed into that corner with very little nature and I feel we all could use more of that, both adults and children.

      • You know what else is popular with teenagers? Open space. And yes, I’m judging from the photos, and now even more harshly now that I see your list of all the crap that’s been crammed into a vacant lot.

  7. I’m so happy to see the park completed; we went to the groundbreaking event last year. My only concern is that it looks like all that plastic equipment and rubberized stuff will get HOT in the summer. Hopefully there are some plans to create shaded areas.

  8. BASIC green space would have been fantastic!

    • Yeah, screw the children.

      • Because kids don’t like grass and trees?

        If it continues to get this much use by the local neighborhood for years to come, great!

        But I worry that a gimmicky playground (instead of a more conventional pocket park with some grass and trees) won’t age well at all.

        This just looks like a design-by-committee disaster. Hopefully I’m proven wrong though!

        • It’s better than the nothing that used to be there. However, I think that the interpretation of “park” has been lost. Can we please just refer to it as a “playground”? I was really expecting the type of park you’d see in Pasadena. Stoked for the breeders and their children. They needed something like this.

  9. highland park resident

    Disappointing and an eyesore
    Whats this neighborhood got against trees?
    Without shade will the playground be useable in the summer months ?
    Taking the drought into consideration, it would have been nice to have a balance of shade, greenery
    and play equipment – it could have been a place for all ages
    As it is now , reminds me of Tune town in Disneyland

  10. Get that dog out of there!

  11. The morning after the big opening the park was packed with families. What a welcome and wonderful addition to a vibrant street. Well done!

  12. This park looks so out of place and inappropriate for the area!!!
    Someone mentioned it looked like an outdoor Chuck E. Cheese and I agree.
    The theme of the park is in contradiction to the current areas draw which is retail, restaurants and bars.
    When I heard that there would be a park I was excited and I was expecting something along these lines:

    City Park Picture

    The people who designed this park and provided input are resistive to the change that is occurring.
    York Blvd will not remain a working class Hispanic strong hold. The Hipsters are coming and are here to stay.
    I am Hispanic and I grew up in this neighborhood.

    • The “hipsters” arrived years ago but no fad lasts forever. I’ve seen them come and go and decline, e.g., f “hippies”, bikers, and gang members. All of whom have disappeared or declined but the one constant has been the working-class “(hispanic” and otherwise) that have always been the foundation of N.E.L.A’s. neighborhoods.

      P.S. I’m gente who was born, raised, educated, and own property in N.E.L.A. This is home and WE’re not going anywhere but i already see signs of the “hipster” fad diminishing. At which point, a class conflict favors NELA’s working-class.

  13. Working class Hispanics like nature too. I don’t think this has to do with class. ALL types of people like nature all over the world. But it’s too late now. The Chuck E. Cheese is here on York and it is NOT a park I’ll be visiting:( Total bummer.

    • “Hispanics” like nature most according to surveys administered by the Sierra Club but working-class people also believe that kids should have outdoor space to play and explore. Considering all of the accessible green space that already exists throughout NELA, this play space addresses an urgent need and provides balance to the business interests determined to drown out every other voice in the community.

  14. It’s hard to make a park that pleases everyone but overall this park looks like it will be well used, even if it’s not my ideal design. That said, I wish the perimeter of the park had more trees planted along it so that there will be shade in the future. Also, maybe some plants along the rear to screen the adjacent business and houses.

    This is primarily a park for children so how about we let the kids decide if the park is good or not?

  15. All of the plans I ever saw included shade sails, and I went to community meetings specifically to weigh in on how much a shady play area was needed as so many of our parks are unbearably sunny in the summer. Does anyone know what happened with that or if there are lans to add them? I’m hoping it just didn’t get finished in time.

  16. I have to believe there will still be shade sails installed, they were on the plans. As for nature, there are new trees planted along the outside perimeter on both streets, and also along the edges inside. I saw vines and many native, drought-tolerant plants, too. Give it some time and the well-planned greenery will become more evident. I remember when the Chinese Garden at the Huntington first opened, it looked quite bare. As things grew and filled in, it became more beautiful. So will our new park.

  17. I have yet to visit the “park” but from the photos, it looks like a “camel”, that is, a park designed by a committee, with most of the members under 12. I am with Alex K, its not what a great pocket park is about. But I do like the “York Park” sign.

  18. Yes there is a shade structure proposed and going in…it is just stuck in LADBS plan check. Also there is very little turf due to the ever present water issue. Also There are several trees in the park and will take some years to fill in. Also there are several vines planted along the chainlink fence on the south and west end of the park which in time will give a green backdrop with a occasional influx of lavender as the vine blooms.

    All of the items in the park are the result of a extensive community process. The restroom was a requirement of the grant.

  19. Play space is as important to working-class families as green space. Besides, Elysian and Griffith Parks are literally a 10-minute drive down the 2. All of the green space that any urban Angeleno can handle. “Let the children play” without the noise of pouty and entitled adults(?) pissin and moanin in the background.

    • Wow, I actually agree with you Mr Me.

    • Btw, Sycamore and Arroyo Seco parks are also no more than a 5-10 minute drive down York and Fig. No more bars or multi-unit developments(!), which are not improvements in quality of life. They are profit-making businesses designed to attract and fit the needs of wealthy people not the working-class residents who are already there. More play and green spaces will reinforce the family not business profile of this residential community. Pasadena and downtown L.A. are only a 10-15 minute drive away for those eager to drink and spend their money.

      • “The wealthy”

        “During high tide all ships rise”

        Its amazing what an influx of “new capital” can do for a street. In roughly a decade York Blvd has been transformed to a destination residents can be proud to share with others.

        The “working class” had York for over 20 years and it was a DUMP.

        I for one would not have taken visitors there in the 90s.

        I sure wish we could speed along the renter exodus to the high desert and SB \ Riverside county

        • “I for one would not have taken visitors there in the 90s” and I don’t recall any invitations encouraging otherwise(?). The working-class has had York for it’s entire history NOT just 20 years and we’re not particularly fond of your economic trickle-down theory, i.e., we’re increasingly tired with being “trickled” upon. This park is a reflection of community need and interest not profit or business. Ultimately, nobody wants to see NELA become the next WeHo or Fairfax district with chronic traffic, overpriced goods and services, and zero parking even for residents, never mind guests or visitors. I think play and green spaces are emerging as the best way to combat that looming possibility.

        • Proper Dos would. He doesn’t mind living in a shithole. He’s a working class hero to the people but the funny thing is he admitted that he’s inherited property in one of bios he always likes to post. He probably doesn’t even have a job.

    • (Martin Arredondo, I too am a little pleasantly surprised I have some common ground with Proper Dos!)

      Yeah, agree, lots of natural greenspace along the Arroyo though to be fair there it has limited access, especially for kids on the western end of the neighborhood. Still, does not diminish benefit of this play space.

      • “. . . though to be fair there it has limited access, especially for kids on the western end of the neighborhood”. Sounds like a very fun adventure for kids (and overgrown kids) to explore on their bikes. They’ll find plenty of access that way. Beyond the wide-open access to Sycamore Park off of Fig.

  20. Adults who want green space can get in their cars and drive to Debs Park. This is a park for kids and for people who walk. Nature takes people to maintain it, and there’s a reason the City of LA keeps that kind of thing all in one place. If you want a “pocket park” in your neighborhood, then you can volunteer 20 hours a week to trim trees, pull weeds, and clean up dog (and human) waste. This isn’t the West Village, Dorothy. As for gentrification: Check out the pictures, or better yet, go down to the park. The place is/was crawling with brown kids. If that’s how you measure social justice, then you should be praising this place, not condemning it.

    • it’s unfortunate, but in certain areas of LA, even spaces like this require constant maintenance. Instead of constant pulling of weeds, here there is often maintenance to remove marker tags, repainting surfaces from graffiti, and likely cleaning of dog poop as well.

  21. There are young trees in the park. I am glad they put that surface in there if they are going to have play space for kids. It is safe, clean and doesn’t require water. I really like the bells. The re-purposed gas station sign is fun. I don’t know. the trees and plants are going to fill in around the park. Seems to me some people are just in a rush to bemoan anything that gets done in this city.

    As for the festival itself, that was serious fun. Glad they gave so much space to local artists and artisans. It felt really good from a community perspective.

  22. I think what people want are more trees for shade, and less artificial surface. I don’t live in the area, but I feel sad that the park wasn’t made to look more nature-like.

  23. I love green space too. Thats a big part of why I moved to Highland Park. I love the Arroyo, the hills, the trees.

    But, frankly, I didnt/don’t feel the need for a shady green park at this particular spot on York.

    And, I do think this particular spot on York needed a kid/family-friendly area. This will be a galvanizing boon for the community.

    And, there are trees there. They are just fresh plantings.

  24. My four-year old loved it, which is pretty much all I wanted. I’m fairly certain her enjoyment had nothing to do with her race.

  25. I have to admit I went by today and although I am still not a fan of the overall aesthetics, there were lots of folks enjoying the space. There was a guy in his 30’s playing the instruments and it sounded great, ladies using the exercise equipment, kids playing on the snake, and me walking through with my dog. It was nice to see such a vast cross section of people using the space and I can’t deny it had a nice sense of community about it. I actually have changed my mind about it, but I do look forward to the trees maturing and hope the place doesn’t get tagged up.

  26. Kudos to the city council and their field reps for making this work. They held quite a few public meetings to get everyone’s input, and then allowed everyone who attended to vote on their favorite design. A lot of people with families attended, therefore, the playground stuff was popular, I would have preferred more green space, and less kiddy stuff, but then again, it’s hard to please everyone.

  27. Passed by the park around 6PM, it’s still not what my ideal park looks like but there were easily a dozen families there enjoying the park. It was something beautiful to see. While there were commuters drudging along York, eager to get somewhere else in a hurry, here were these families moving at a slower pace in life and enjoying where they were. Despite the relatively dreary weather the park was still drawing people out of their homes and bringing smiles to children as they blow off some of that excess energy.

    Park: 1. Nay-sayers: 0

  28. Just facts: 1 – CD14 built a park on based on the wishes of the local community, and the list was very loooong. Considering all the wishes, I think the execution was quite impressive. And they are not done building it yet. I’m sure there will be shade and more details to add.

    2- Please know that the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce is the private organization most responsible for the Mercado…they had exactly 2 weeks to put 85 vendors on the boulevard, while making sure that none of the local businesses were left out or duplicated. No other organization worked or funded the event except CD14. So why is the HHNC crowing about it? They did NADA.


  30. Don’t you guys read? You can’t build a park full of grass on top of on an old gas station. There are a lot of regulations on petroleum contamination.

    I’m glad the park was built for children to enjoy rather than annoying hipsters that want to drink PBR outside.

  31. that park looks like a lot of fun to be honest. i wish i was 10 again!

    and yeah, you def can’t put grass on an old gas station, unless you want to poison kids.

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