Graffiti

Belmont Park, Los Angeles

Seventy-five years ago, Los Angeles was serviced by one of the largest trolley systems in the world—the Pacific Electric Railway.  The "Big Red Cars" covered 1,000 miles throughout Southern California and were the primary means of trans-portation in the pre-freeway era.  The system opened in 1925 and operated for 30 years,
until 1955.

This original system included a tunnel that was built as a shortcut for the "Hollywood Subway", connecting Glendale Boulevard to Hill and 4th Street.  Until recently, the tunnel and adjacent power station had been a local art park frequented by graffiti artists. 

The site, now known as Belmont Park, became recognized around the world for its large scale, highly stylized graffiti murals that have been featured in films, commercials, TV movies, and music videos.  It also served as a field for impromptu soccer games and a pre-Columbian handball game known as Tarasca from the Mexican state of Michoacan.

To the dismay of the local community, a real estate developer recently bought the site and began dismantling it to make way for a new commercial development.  The community's attempts to protect the park by having it designated as a Cultural Historical Landmark were not successful.

These photographs represent what may have been the final opportunity to record this cultural gem, a unique piece of Los Angeles history.