Latino LA

Mexican and Latino Landmarks and Attractions in Los Angeles

Latinos from various countries make up the largest cultural group in Los Angeles. 4.7 million people of Hispanic heritage live in LA County, which is not surprising since the area was claimed as New Spain, then part of Mexico before it was ceded to the Unites States in 1848. You can pretty much find Mexican culture and great Mexican food, as well as Guatemalan, Peruvian and other contributions all over the city. However, there are specific landmarks, museums and neighborhoods that celebrate the city's Mexican roots, immigrant culture and the art of Latin America. Most of these are related to Mexican culture, because the other Latino communities in LA have fewer or no physical landmarks, despite thriving cultural communities.

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Olvera Street - El Pueblo Historic Site

The Mexican Marketplace at Olvera Street, El Pueblo de Los Angeles
Photo © 2016 Kayte Deioma, licensed to About.com
Address
125 Paseo De La Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90012, USA
Phone
+1 213-485-6855

The most accessible place to learn about the Mexican history of LA is at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument at Olvera Street. The one block pedestrian zone includes the 1818 Avila Adobe, the oldest house in the city, as well as a Mexican street market, restaurants and museums. Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles Asistencia is a small Catholic church across the street from El Pueblo.

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LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes

LA Plaza Exterior
Photo © 2011 Kayte Deioma, used with permission
Address
501 N Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90012-2828, USA
Phone
+1 213-542-6200

is one of the museums at Olvera Street. It is dedicated to telling the story of the first Angeleno settlers. The eleven original Old Mexico families were identified as Indio, Mulato, Español, Negro, and Mestizo, so the city has had a muticultural personality from the beginning. Beyond the first settlers, the museum documents the contribution of Mexicans and Mexican Americans to the story of Los Angeles including famous actors, athletes and politicians.

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The Missions and Ranchos

Rancho Los Cerritos
Kayte Deioma
Address
San Gabriel, CA 91776, USA

Before the first house was built, there were the missions. Those first 11 families that founded Los Angeles came from, built in 1771 just over the hills in the San Gabriel Valley. Further west, the

was built in 1797. These two missions were instrumental in spreading the Spanish catholic influence among the Native American population during the time when California was part of Mexico. In the 1780s, King Carlos III of Spain granted huge swaths of Southern California to a few Spanish families who set up ranchos. Here is a full list of Missions and Ranchos in the Los Angeles Area that you can visit to learn more about LA's years as part of Mexico.

was built in 1797. These two missions were instrumental in spreading the Spanish catholic influence among the Native American population during the time when California was part of Mexico. In the 1780s, King Carlos III of Spain granted huge swaths of Southern California to a few Spanish families who set up ranchos. Here is a full list of Missions and Ranchos in the Los Angeles Area that you can visit to learn more about LA's years as part of Mexico.

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Museum of Latin American Art

 Christian Hundley / TripSavvy
Address
628 Alamitos Ave, Long Beach, CA 90802-1513, USA
Phone
+1 562-437-1689

The Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach showcases the work - primarily paintings and sculpture - of artists from all over Latin America. the collection includes art from every Latin American country, but they are not all represented in every exhibit.

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Mariachi Plaza

Address
1831 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA
Phone
+1 323-356-2219

Mariachi Plaza is a landmark in the predominantly Mexican Boyle Heights neighborhood, one mile east of downtown Los Angeles. Mariachi musicians gather near the gazebo at this plaza in their various colored and black charro suits embellished with metal ornamentation to be hired out for parties, weddings, quinceañeras and restaurant gigs. Over 100 mariachi musicians live next to the plaza in the Boyle Hotel, a historic four-story brick building with a turret. Across the street, a colorful mural depicts mariachi musicians. There is a weekly farmers market on Fridays from 3 to 9. On the Feast of St. Cecilia in November, the mariachis gather for a blessing of their instruments, and after parading around the block, all the mariachi bands play together as one. It's quite impressive.

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Candelas Guitar Shop

Address
2724 East Cesar E Chavez Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90033-3106, USA
Phone
+1 323-261-2011

Musicians from around the world travel to a humble storefront in Boyle Heights to visit Candelas Guitar Shop, where fine custom guitars and other stringed instruments are still made by hand by luthiers led by Tomas Delgado, like his father and grandfather before him.

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La Casa del Mariachi

Address
1836 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90033, USA
Phone
+1 323-262-5243

After musicians stop in at Candelas in search of beautiful guitars, they head over to La Casa del Mariachi to have their mariachi suits custom tailored by El Maestro, Jorge Tello, just a few doors down from Mariachi Plaza. The tailor hails originally from Guatemala, where he was discovered in his father's shop by a visiting mariachi tailor from Los Angeles. He's been making mariachi suits in Boyle Heights since 1984. Tello isn't the only tailor who makes charro suits in LA, but his work is considered the haute couture of mariachi-wear, worn by musical royalty.

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Iconic Mexican Neighborhoods

Address
Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Mexican Americans and other Latinos live all over Los Angeles, but there are a few iconic neighborhoods where you will feel like you are in Mexico or get to know the particular Mexican-infused culture specific to LA.

Boyle Heights, just east of Downtown, where the three attractions above are located, is an interesting combination of 3rd and 4th generation Angelenos of Mexican descent who don't speak Spanish and new immigrants. It has been going through a revival in the last few years. Among many restaurants, bars and shops, the touristy El Mercadito de Los Angeles is an indoor Mexican mall with lots of snack vendors and a very large restaurant upstairs known for its weekday mariachi music.

Broadway in Downtown LA south of the high-rise buildings could be Mexico City or Guadalajara. All the signs are in Spanish and there are throngs of people on the sidewalks buying and selling merchandise. Interspersed between them you'll find some historic movie palaces in various stages of religious use, disrepair or renovation.

The Macarthur Park/Alvarado Street area is not exactly thought of as  a tourist destination, but it's kind of interesting to drive through. On summer weekends and some evenings you can join local families gathered for free concerts and festivals at Macarthur Park. You may recognize the park with the pretty little lake from the numerous crime dramas where someone meets a guy here to get a fake ID, but a visible police presence has significantly reduced crime in the area, especially during events.

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Plaza Mexico in Lynwood

Address
3100 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, CA 90262, USA
Phone
+1 310-631-6789

With replica landmarks from various parts of Mexico, Plaza Mexico in Lynwood, just south of LA is a popular destination for the local Mexican community as well as tourists for shopping, dining and photo opportunities.

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Latino Art Museum at the Pomona Art Colony

Address
281 South Thomas Street Underground, Pomona, CA 91766-1750, USA
Phone
+1 909-620-6009

The Latino Art Museum in Pomona is dedicated to exhibiting the work of contemporary Latin American artists living in the United States.

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Mexican Consulate

Address
2401 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90057, USA
Phone
+1 877-639-4835

The Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles hosts exhibits and events that showcase Mexican culture.

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Latino Events in LA

Major Mexican events include

There's an Ecuadorean Festival at Olvera Street in August. Fiestas Patrias Central American Independence Day is celebrated in mid-September at Macarthur Park, sometimes in conjunction with Mexican Independence Day. There are also a couple Puerto Rican Festivals that move around.

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Like Being in Mexico without Going to Mexico: Latino LA