As a child I used to walk with my father every Saturday morning to our neighborhood park. Lincoln Park. was where many of my fondest memories were formed: riding my bike, feeding the ducks in the pond, and those morning weekend walks with my father. As a child, I never thought of the history of the park. But as I began my studies in landscape architecture, one of the first assignments I was given was to explore a memorable childhood place, an ideal opportunity to revisit this favorite local park.
Lincoln Park was formally first named East Los Angeles Park (Eastlake Park), and was opened to the public in the year 1892, becoming one of the city’ first series of parks. The park drew big crowds, attracting people from all over Los Angeles thanks to numerous attractions within and surrounding the park. Lincoln Park essentially became one of the first models for public parks.
Lincoln Park’s largest attraction was a large artificial lake built on top of the bed of the arroyo. The lake featured a boathouse, bridges, and stepping stones to cross the lake, as captured by this series of postcards.
There was a conservatory within the park that was a working nursery where plants were grown for the city’s park system, as well as housing rare exotics for public viewing.
As the park drew in large crowds, privately owned tourist attractions were built surrounding the park. Attractions like the California Alligator Farm, Ostrich Farms, and Selig Luna Park Zoo were built just across the street from the park creating almost a theme park atmosphere.
The Luna Park Zoo the largest collection of lions, tigers, and leopards in the entire country at the time and admission was only 30 cents! Unfortunately, as is the case of much of Los Angeles, this fascinating history has been buried away from memory, with only postcards left to memorialize the park’s storied past…