A Visit to El Pueblo de Los Angeles

Story and Photos by Steve Zavala

Looking into the rich and complicated history of Los Angeles, it is impossible to overstate the formative role of El Pueblo de Los Angeles.

Located just north of Downtown in the City of Angels, El Pueblo is one of the most historically significant landmarks in Southern California. The monument is steeped in a rich history, and is considered the birthplace of Los Angeles. Today, much of the area around El Pueblo has been modernized, but many of the landmarks and even some artifacts still remain.

Visitors should start off with La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora La Reina de Los Ángeles, arguably the most prominent landmark in the area.

The church we see today, which was built in 1822, stands on a footprint of the original adobe structure.

The church we see today, which was built in 1822, stands on a footprint of the original adobe structure.

Also known as Our Lady Queen of Angels Church, it was built in the early 1800s and is the oldest church in Los Angeles. While it has undergone major renovations over the past couple of decades, it still resembles a traditional western Roman Catholic church built in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Across the street from the church is the Pico House, which was built by Pio de Jesus Pico, the last governor of California under Mexican rule.

When it opened, the Pico House was the most luxurious hotel in Southern California.

When it opened, the Pico House was the most luxurious hotel in Southern California.

One of the most notable landmarks in the area is Olvera Street.

Olvera Street is one of the oldest streets in Los Angeles.

Olvera Street is one of the oldest streets in Los Angeles.

In the 1800s, the area surrounding Olvera Street was largely a neighborhood for Mexican and Italian immigrants. Since then, the street has survived regional conflicts and natural disasters, and is now a world-renowned Mexican marketplace. The street has a nostalgic atmosphere that recalls the Mexican culture and traditions that helped shape Los Angeles.

The most recognizable landmark along Olvera Street is the Avila Adobe House.

The most recognizable landmark along Olvera Street is the Avila Adobe House.

Built in 1818, The Avila Adobe is the oldest existing house in all of Los Angeles. While the house has undergone major renovations over the years, it still has the enthralling feeling of a historical landmark.

El Pueblo pic 5.jpg
El Pueblo pic 6.jpg

Down the street from the Avila Adobe is the Old Winery.

The winery at El Pueblo was among the first in this area.

The winery at El Pueblo was among the first in this area.

Used primarily from 1870-1914, this winery was crucial to the growth of the wine business in Southern California. Today, the renovated space is home to a couple of restaurants as well as a gallery of vintage photos from El Pueblo de Los Angeles, which showcase the winery’s role in the rich history of El Pueblo.

Much of Olvera Street today is occupied by restaurants and vendors. The street is arranged and decorated to truly capture the feel of the historic landmark.

Vendors and small shops line Olvera Street.

Vendors and small shops line Olvera Street.

Visitors can purchase a variety of items from street vendors, one of the most famous items being confetti eggs.

Visitors can purchase a variety of items from street vendors, one of the most famous items being confetti eggs.

El Pueblo de Los Angeles is filled with art and landmarks that are emblematic of not only the physical space, but also the broader history and culture of Los Angeles. It is open daily and is free to the public. Filled to the brim with history and culture, El Pueblo a must-see attraction whether you are a local Angeleno or just touring the city.