Tuesday, July 26, 2016

History Keepers: Traversing Los Angeles
L.A. Exhibition Brings This Multifaceted City to Us

Copter Tested as Traffic Director, 1953 
Los Angeles Times Photographic Archives, UCLA Library Special Collections 

They are history keepers. They research, organize, store, repair, and care for historical artifacts and make them available to us online, at exhibitions, through publications, or in their homes.

This summer’s History Keepers exhibition in downtown Los Angeles displays objects from collections around Southern California that address the theme “Traversing Los Angeles.” These items—real or imagined landscapes; urban planning and architecture; travel, tourism, and mapping; airways, railways, roadways, and freeways; tunnels, canals, and bridges; cityscapes and streetscapes—are a cornucopia of Los Angeles’s geographical, environmental, cultural, and historical landscapeShould we ever forget or lose sight of our past, we need only return to these primary source materials to discover again where we came from and perhaps even where we are going. 

From August 5 to August 27, the California Historical Society celebrates Los Angeles’s history keepers in this exhibition at the historic El Pueblo National Monument (see below for more information).  

For our online visitors, we offer a sample of objects in the exhibition in a series of forthcoming blogs: 

 Knife and Trunk of Tiburcio Vásquez, c. mid-1800s 
History Keeper: San Fernando Valley Historical Society  

In the mid-1800s the legendary, controversial Tiburcio Vásquez—son of a prominent Californio family—traversed the passes and foothills of the state, robbing and terrorizing inhabitants and romancing others. Remembered for his womanizing and crimes purportedly committed in the name of justice for his people, the bandido/outlaw—and folk hero to some—traveled with this trunk packed with his personal effects. This knife is all that remains of its contents.

Home Backyard Incinerator, 1946–55 
History Keeper: Nat Isaac 

“As all historians know, you don't just pass up on a treasured relic of the past, especially one such as this that tells the story of LA’s trashy past full of issues ranging from environmental protection to traffic, to organized crime to mayoral politics,” explains History Keeper Nat Isaac.
California Centennial Transportation Plate, 1949 
History Keeper: Phyllis Hansen 
For California’s centennial of statehood in 1949, the Los Angeles pottery company Vernon Kilns produced a series of commemorative plates. This transportation-themed plate depicts illustrations of historical modes of traversing Southern California. Perhaps most unique of all is the one about the camels that arrived in Los Angeles in 1858.
Looking from Wall Street between 8th and 9th Streets, 1932 
History Keeper: California Historical Society 
In 1932 a German PhD student arrived in Los Angeles. Anton Wagner wanted to determine how this American city and its environs had become a booming metropolis of two million people from a small, dusty mid-nineteenth-century town. Wagner researched the region’s history, critically examined its geography, interviewed its civic and business leaders, and covered the area of greater Los Angeles on foot.
Souvenirs from Southern California’s Orange Empire, 1910–40Orange Inn Roadside Stand 
History Keeper:  David Boulé California Orange Collection 
In the early 1900s, leisure travel was an adventure only for the hearty or the wealthy. However, as railways, automobiles, and roads developed and improved, more people could visit, explore, and see the wonders of a place where oranges grew beneath mountains covered with snow.

Shelly Kale 
Publications and Strategic Projects Manager 

An exhibition by the California Historical Society and LA as Subject 
Presented in partnership with El Pueblo Historical Monument and the El Pueblo Park Association 

El Tranquilo Gallery & Visitor Center 
634 N. Main Street (entrance on Olvera Street, W-19) 
El Pueblo de Los Ángeles Historical Monument, Los Angeles, California 
Tuesday–Friday, 10:00 am–3:00 pm 
Saturday and Sunday, 9:00 am–4:00 pm 

Opening reception: Friday, August 5, 2016, 6:00–8:00 pm 

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