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I have lived in Los Angeles for nearly 30 years and I know nothing about the city’s history.

Or it least that’s the way it seems after a visit to the Great Wall of LA, a half-mile long mural that depicts the city’s past from prehistoric days through 1984.  I didn’t even know there was a Great Wall of LA depicting the city’s history – that’s how out of touch I am with the city’s history.

It was started in 1976 by a local art collective under the direction of the Army Corp of Engineers who wanted to beautify the Tujunga Wash flood control channel as they were building an adjacent park.  The fact that the history of LA is painted on the side of what is basically a glorified ditch is probably an example of irony worthy of an Alanis Morissette song, but we’ll leave that particular bit of discussion for another time.

It was created by artists, children, and their families from around Los Angeles and took nearly 10 years to complete.  It runs for a half a mile along the wall of the flood control channel next to Coldwater Canyon Avenue between Burbank and Oxnard and is billed as one of the longest murals in the world.

It starts with prehistoric days (think woolly mammoths and the La Brea Tar Pits); segues into Indian and Mexican settlements; an influx of Chinese immigrants; the red car line; migrant workers; Tomas Edison; prohibition; the Great Depression; both world wars; the Japanese internment camps; the birth of rock and roll; Ginsberg and the Beat poet scene of the 1960s; and so on, all the way through to the Olympics in 1984.

Several things depicted that I know nothing or only cursory bits about… The Long Beach Earthquake of 1933; the Dunbar Hotel; The Zoot Suit Riots of 1943; and the Chinese Massacre of 1871.  I intend to learn about all of them, but those will be saved for future TYOLD items.

Here are some pictures.

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