Submitted by kim on Fri, 06/03/2016 - 01:08.
For immediate release
June 2, 2016
Pershing Square Restoration Society advocates for preservation of the Downtown L.A.'s park's threatened historic monuments
WHO: Pershing Square Restoration Society, a grassroots historic preservation advocacy group.
WHAT: New petition calls on the city and the Pershing Square Renew public-private partnership to commit to preserve and retain on site the monuments in Downtown L.A.'s Pershing Square that have been threatened with possible removal.
MORE INFO: Petition link - https://www.change.org/p/department-of-recreation-and-parks-save-the-per... / Information page about the endangered and missing monuments - http://restorepershingsquare.blogspot.com/p/save-pershing-square-monuments.html
CONTACT: Kim Cooper, toursATesotouricDOTcom, 213-373-1947
LOS ANGELES - Historic Pershing Square, in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles, might be the worst public park in America. But after decades of neglect, Angelenos are finally taking notice.
The failure of Pershing Square as usable public space has become a hot topic of conversation online and in real life, while in The Los Angeles Times, Gale Holland observed "Neither the people who run the park, nor the homeless, are to blame for Pershing Square's squalor. The scrambled landscape is a massive failure of civic vision. The park was redesigned in the 1950s, the 1980s and the 1990s. With each makeover, it became less appealing, more confused and finally, just weird."
The time is long past ripe to properly fix Pershing Square. So residents were intrigued by CD14 Councilman Jose Huizar's launch of Pershing Square Renew, a non-profit public-private partnership dedicated to improving the park, and its announcement of an international design competition meant to provide a road map for the park's future. Dozens of designers submitted their visions for Pershing Square, and last month, French firm Agence Ter was selected as the competition winner.
Agence Ter's design is pleasant enough, a simple, flat, green space. But there's something important missing: nowhere in their renderings appear any of Pershing Square's historic monuments: No Beethoven (1932), no Doughboy (1924), no Spanish American War Memorial (an official Historic-Cultural Monument recognized as the oldest piece of public art in Los Angeles, 1900).
Members of the grassroots Pershing Square Restoration Society (PSRS), a loosely knit consortium of architectural historians representing more than 2000 Change.org "Restore Pershing Square" petition signers, hoped this might just be an oversight in a rushed competition environment. But then they read this Facebook comment from CD14 Downtown Area Director Sara Hernandez: "Nothing is considered a cultural landmark or required to stay besides the statues which are public art and can be moved around the park or possibly placed elsewhere in the city."
Dismayed that the Councilman's office is suggesting the removal of Pershing Square's monuments from the park, PSRS have launched a new Change.org petition, "Save the Pershing Square Monuments." It calls on all responsible parties to commit to preserving the monuments in place. PSRS also hopes to see the missing monuments, which include a magnificent French bronze war cannon (1751) recently located at the San Pedro Maritime Museum and a memorial slab for a famous 1930s squirrel called Benny, returned to the park.
The "Save the Pershing Square Monuments" petition is at:
A webpage listing the monuments, with photos and history, is at:
Pershing Square Restoration Society co-founder Kim Cooper says, "The Pershing Square monuments aren't just inconvenient hunks of metal that can be moved around the city like chess pieces; they are Los Angeles history incarnate. The mothers who wept beside the Doughboy, the music lovers who came many miles to stand quietly with Beethoven, the old soldiers who remembered distant friends when they passed the Spanish American War Memorial are still there in Pershing Square as long as the monuments remain. It would be a civic disgrace to do anything other than restore the monuments to their prominent places within the park."
And PSRS co-founder Richard Schave adds "The last time the city redesigned Pershing Square, the historic monuments were clearly an afterthought, shoved into a corner where they're easy to miss. If we're finally going to get Pershing Square right and make the great public space that Los Angeles deserves, the first step is to treat the monuments like the civic treasures that they are."
The "Save the Pershing Square Monuments" petition is filled with passionate comments, as citizens weigh in with their heartfelt hopes that any future Pershing Square will include its past. A sample:
The history of the park should be maintained as much as possible. The monuments are all treasures to the city. (Courtland Jindra)... If those of us who remember allow our own history to be destroyed, then it will be erased from memory forever. (Adriene Biondo)... Please preserve the history of Pershing Square. L.A. is changing too fast and preserving the historic elements of Pershing Square is one way to save some of the city's soul for the future. (Tamara Raskin)... Do not remove the Pershing Square Monuments. Our history is precious to us. Stop erasing the old, beautiful, and historical, City of Los Angeles we all know and love. (Karen Coplen)... These artworks are part of our collective history and must be preserved. (Thomas Nagano)... Respect the Pershing Square Monuments; they must remain within the Pershing Square redesign boundaries. (John Girodo)... The preservation of LA History is just as important as its future. (Nicole Pasten)... I value Los Angeles' history as precious and fragile, and as a life-long Angelino, I want to see it PRESERVED -- not destroyed and replaced. (De Ann Lewis)... Respect Angelino history and build upon it rather than hide, bury or destroy it. (Anne Laureano)... History, tradition, cultural icons are IMPORTANT, and can be incorporated in the renewal plan, don't destroy or move them! (Carol Edger Germain)... The monuments are as much a part of Pershing Square as anything else. It's bad enough that a company NOT from L.A. got the contract, but to let them rob us of such a very special part of our city's history, well - that simply won't do. The monuments need to be in Pershing Square forever. (Carol Gwenn)... The Beethoven statue is a site-specific work, meant to honor William Andrews Clark, Jr.'s philanthropic venture: The LA Philharmonic. (Nina Schneider)... Save the monuments, but do not put them in a sad Postmodern corral as Legorreta did. (Jay Platt)... I strongly believe that we should nurture and protect historical buildings and markers within the city and to develop as a mosaic where the layers can be seen and appreciated.. LA is rich with history. the best cities on earth have figured out how to manage this. this kind of awareness makes us better!! a rich destination with many layers and textures! (Janet Klein)... It is without question that we should reinstall these important markers of our past and memorials to those who have gone before. They are part of our shared collective memory, and represent the highest and most noble parts of our great city. (Nathan Marsak)... It would be so EASY to keep these historical reminders in the new park and give it a nuovo-retro vibe. Don't miss your chance! (John Orr)... I care about my city's history. Knowing our past gives us strength for the future (Dawn Garcia).
Angelenos have strong, harmonious opinions about the next steps for Pershing Square—the want to see the historic monuments protected. Now, as Pershing Square Renew seeks funding to redesign the park, will the Department of Recreation and Parks, Councilman Jose Huizar and Agence Ter listen?
Visit the Pershing Square Restoration Society website at http://restorepershingsquare.blogspot.com/
View John Parkinson's original Pershing Square in a film clip from "Shoes" (Lois Weber, 1916; restored 2010 by EYE Filmmuseum)
The Pershing Square Restoration Society preservation campaigners Kim Cooper and Richard Schave (Esotouric / LAVA – The Los Angeles Visionary Association), Stephen Gee (John Parkinson's biographer) and Courtland Jindra (United States World War I Centennial Commission) are available for interviews, as are many petition signers. Contact Kim (toursATesotouricDOTcom, 213-373-1947).