Ft. Moore Pioneer Monument Side Trip

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Side Trip! See L.A.’s best-known forgotten memorial!

It’s the Ft. Moore Pioneer Monument and it’s actually pretty cool. You’ll only need 10 minutes extra to see it and you’ll have major bragging rights: hardly anyone knows it’s here.

–> At the corner of Hill and Temple, cross Hill Street.

–> Turn right, cross Temple Street and walk over the Hollywood Freeway (“A” on the map).

B) Ft. Moore Pioneer Memorial. There it is, carved into the side of the hill, downtown’s “Mount Rushmore” – the Ft. Moore Pioneer Memorial. The fort was built in 1847 during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) in order to secure the frontier town of Los Angeles from the Californios – those locals loyal to Mexico. Though never completed and never used in battle, the fort was nevertheless dedicated on Independence Day, 1847. Named for a captain who died early in the war, it was unceremoniously abandoned two years later.

The fort was lost to demolition but a plaque was installed to mark the spot. The plaque was lost, too, but in 1957 this memorial (Kazumi Adachi and Dike Nagano) took up the task to honor  those who fought in the war. Hold onto your hats because when erected it was the “largest bas-relief military monument” in the country. It was also believed to be, at the time, the only significant public art in L.A. marking an historical event on the actual spot where the history took place!

As often happens with memorials, other groups wanted in on the honors. For instance, a waterfall was installed to salute the importance of water (both river and aqueducts) to the city. Agricultural, religious and transportation bas-reliefs are showcased alongside the military salutes.

The groundbreaking (pictured here; note the U.S. Courthouse and Hall of Justice buildings in the background) was soon followed by a July 3, 1957 dedication.  Twenty years later a drought brought the shut-down of the waterfall. Even though a pump recycled the water, it looked wasteful.

Dry for most its life, the Ft. Moore Pioneer Monument joins the long list of forgotten monuments and memorials, missing or buried plaques, and broken or empty fountains dotting the city (even Google maps, at this writing, has its location on the wrong street). But you saw it on your WalknRideLA tour. Kudos, adventure seekers!

–> Retrace your steps back to the corner of Hill and Temple Streets to continue the tour.

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