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L.A. State Historic Park In Chinatown To Reopen April 22

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The formerly dusty L.A. State Historic Park in Chinatown will reopen on April 22 after completing a $20 million renovation, according to Curbed. The park closed in April 2014 and renovations were expected to last a year, but contaminants on site and the drought pushed back the completion. The park originally opened in 2006 as a place-holder public space until the official permanent park could open.

The formerly abandoned rail yard, also known as the Cornfield, occupies the Northern half of Chinatown in between North Broadway and Spring Street. Its proximity to Chinatown is no coincidence; the community developed nearby because Chinese laborers who helped build the cross-continental railway, according to the LA Times. As a result, the Chinese community in Los Angeles maintained deep ties with the land. An attempted redevelopment of the property into an industrial park in the late 2001 encountered strong grassroots opposition from the Chinatown Yard Alliance, the culmination of which led the state to purchase the land and spearhead its transformation into a public park. The state initially set up a design competition for firms to design the park, which Hargreaves Associates won back in 2006, but by 2012 the design had been passed to state-employed designers because of limited funds.

The renovation process, which included discovering turn of the century artifacts, involved building permanent restrooms, lots of wetland space, an area for farmers' markets, a meadow area, and event space. Before it closed, the interim park hosted prominent local events like FYF and HARD Day of the Dead, so the reopened space could once again provide a convenient location for similarly large-scale events. KCET reports that this type of programming can bring in noise and traffic against the wishes of the community, but it also generates an especially high revenue for a public agency with such a tight budget. Balancing the needs and desires of the area with the operating costs of the park will likely remain a major focus of the reopened space.

The Park is planning a day-long celebration for the opening on April 22, starting at 10 AM. It will involve food, performances, and family-friendly activities. The re-opening is one more step in the long history of the land, the uses of which have defined the development of the L.A. Basin for its whole existence.