What Can Be Done to Revive L.A.'s Forgotten First Park

Pershing Square occupies a special place in the physical and historical landscape of Los Angeles. But the city's first park has been the victim of poor redesigns and a "massive failure of civic vision." Can anything be done to fix it?
October 29, 2012, 9am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Gale Holland surveys the sorry state of L.A.'s Pershing Square, which occupies a square block smack-dab in the middle of downtown. "It was L.A.'s first park, once a playground for fashionable couples promenading after the theater," notes Holland. "Now it's a concrete playpen for the homeless."

"Neither the people who run the park, nor the homeless, are to blame for Pershing Square's squalor. The scrambled landscape is a massive failure of civic vision. The park was redesigned in the 1950s, the 1980s and the 1990s. With each makeover, it became less appealing, more confused and finally, just weird."

Given the failed designs of the past, what can be done to arrest the park's steep decline?

"The city has been wooing people back to Pershing with cultural events, including a farmers market, summer concerts, an outdoor art show and film series (this month it's horror flicks). The winter skating rink, lit up with Christmas lights, is charming, looking down from the rooftop terrace at the Hill Street bistro called Perch. City Councilman Jose Huizar has formed a task force to attack park problems - discarded needles, rats, etc. - and work toward a redesign."

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Published on Thursday, October 25, 2012 in Los Angeles Times
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