Finding beauty amid the gravestones of Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles

Serbian Cemetery | Aurelio Jose Barrera


A graveyard is probably the last place many people would want to visit. But, in addition to being the final resting place for thousands, the old cemeteries of Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles reflect more than a century of the city’s culture, diversity and history.

Cemeteries for Catholics, Chinese, Jews and Serbians  are located within blocks of each other along Eastern Avenue in East Los Angeles. In neighboring Boyle Heights,  joggers circle the fitness path around Evergreen Cemetery while traffic on the 5 Freeway roars past the Odd Fellows Cemetery.

Photographer Aurelio Jose Barrera recently rediscovered the old graveyards, photographing them as he rides by. Says Barrera:

“Sometimes while riding by bike, I take a quick detour through the cemeteries and enjoy their tranquility. My four-year-old grandson likes to walk through the beautiful gravestones asking me to read the names. We look at the Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese and Cyrillic engraved words wondering what they say. I use those trips to talk to him about all the different countries people who have lived here before us came from and their traditions.”

Beth Israel Cemetery | Aurelio Jose Barrera

Calvary Cemetery | Aurelio Jose Barrera

Chinese Cemetery | Aurelio Jose Barrera

Evergreen Cemetery | Aurelio Jose Barrera

Evergreen Cemetery | Aurelio Jose Barrera

Evergreen Cemetery | Aurelio Jose Barrera

Home of Peace Cemetery | Aurelio Jose Barrera

Home of Peace Cemetery | Aurelio Jose Barrera” target=”_blank”>Aurelio Jose Barrera

Mt Zion Cemetery | Aurelio Jose Barrera

Odd Fellows Cemetery |Aurelio Jose Barrera

Serbian Cemetery | Aurelio Jose Barrera

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One comment

  1. Thanks for this article and beautiful accompanying photos! I’ve long been drawn to old cemeteries and on my frequent road trips (CA, OR, NM, TX) always have my camera on the passenger seat and drive through them, stopping to photograph the vistas and grave markers……the older, the better. Each one is different and it’s fascinating to see how various cultures/religions/ethnicities bury and honor their dead. Earlier this month while driving through Boyle Hts/E LA, I passed the entrance (locked) to Home of Peace Cemetery. Because I was in a hurry and it was raining, I didn’t stop. Thanks for showing me what I missed.
    Loved the little bird, too, as I often see birds in these quiet, peaceful places.

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