High School (SVPA) Side Trip

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Bet your high school never looked like this one! It’s just a 10-minute (tops) side trip but if you’re into architecture, take it.

–> At the corner of Grand and Temple, turn right and head down Grand, crossing over the Hollywood Freeway.

A) Hollywood Freeway. To the right is the Hollywood Freeway. “I Love Lucy” fans might recognize this stretch; it was shown as the Ricardos and Mertzes motored into town in the 1955 telecast of “Hollywood At Last,” – you know, the episode when star-struck Lucy disguised herself following her “run-in” with William Holden at the Brown Derby?

Click here to view the episode (the freeway arrival is at the very beginning).

The planned routing of the freeway followed a slightly more northerly route, which would have called for more demolition of the El Pueblo de Los Angeles site than occured. Still, a lot was taken out for the freeway.

B) Central Los Angeles High Schoot #9 – School for the Visual and Performing Arts. There’s no missing the”VAPA High School” (for short) ahead on the right. The 1,200-student school opened in late 2009, comprising four academies: dance, theater, music and visual arts. In early 2010 Dr. Phil (of the “Dr. Phil” TV show) created the “Dr. Phil Foundation” to support music education. Designed by HMC Archiects/Coop Himmelblau, the campus includes 64 classrooms and a 950-seat theater.

C) Ft. Moore site. The high school sits on the site of the former Ft. Moore (1847). The fort was built during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) to secure the frontier town of Los Angeles from the Californios – those locals loyal to Mexico. Never completed (and never used in battle), it was nevertheless dedicated on Independence Day, 1847. Named for a captain who’d died early in the war, it was  abandoned two years later and portions later became a cemetery.

During the real estate boom of the early 1880s the hill was reduced in height and the cemetery was eventually sub-divided between home lots and the L.A. Board of Education (today’s LAUSD – owners of the high school). Alhough some care was used in transferring bodies from the cemetery to others in the area, excavation work for today’s high school uncovered a few they missed!

A plaque was dedicated in 1910 to mark the spot where the fort stood but the plaque’s gone the route of the cemetery. But a memorial – one of L.A.’s many forgotten tributes – salutes the short-lived fort. It’s on the side of the hill facing Broadway, not visible from here. An optional Side Trip brings you there at the end of this tour.

–> Return to the corner of Grand Avenue and Temple Street to resume the main tour.

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