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Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Much to the shock of anyone who reads this, I am posting about the Metro...the Gold Line to be exact. Yes Mitch, you've driven me to blog about the transit system...what next? :) Ok, ok, so the reason I am blogging about the Gold Line Eastside Extension Project is because indirectly it affects me too. Today, there was a report on KNBC about Metro construction crews uncovering "78 full skeletons, bone fragments and wood from deteriorating coffins" as they built a retaining wall on the grounds where the Los Angeles County Crematorium once stood. Is everyone still puzzled why I'm blogging about Evergreen Cemetery?

Since 1876-77, Los Angeles residents have been buried and memorialized at Evergreen, making it the oldest cemetery in the city. Tombstones of Latinos, Asians, African Americans and Caucasians signify the diversity of those buried there. Some of my relatives including my great-grandparents and my paternal grandfather are entombed at Evergreen. It is interesting that residents of the area "predicted that [their] cemetery was going to be desecrated in order to make way for the Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension." I know that it will be a little weird for me the next time I go to Evergreen to pay my respects to my family.

For more information:

Evergreen Cemetery: Founded in 1877, Evergreen Cemetery is the City's oldest recognized burial ground, and the largest, with over 300,000 people interred there. Evergreen was one of the few integrated cemeteries in Los Angeles in the 20th century. Former slave and early African American civic leader Biddy Mason is buried there. Major sections were set aside for Chinese and Japanese. Evergreen Cemetery is the largest green space in East Los Angeles. The major running track in the area is around its perimeter and is called R.I.P. – "Run in Peace."

KNBC: Boyle Heights Bones Divide Metro Officials, Residents

LA Weekly: Forgotten bones dug up by Gold Line project in Boyle Heights

The Gold Line Eastside Destination: Map


Mitch Glaser said...

You "scooped" me on a story about the Metro!

Shocking...first you write about Marshall Field's, now the Gold Line extension? I suspect a post about Wal-Mart is on the horizon. This begs the question: When will I start writing about musical theatre?

I've long found it interesting that so many cemeteries are in East L.A. I didn't know about the history of a city that has a long history of deliberate racial segregation, I find it fascinating that so many Angelenos of different races were buried in the same place.

Every transit project creates controversy, but this situation is unique and somewhat bizarre. I have to wonder whether the failure of the MTA to acknowledge the existence of the former "potter's field" prior to construction was a deliberate act or if it just reflects bureaucratic incompetence. Once the bones were dug up, the agency made the difficult decision to not move the route, choosing to disrupt the dead rather than the living. I can understand why many people are upset.

The Eastside light rail line, originally planned as an extension of the Red Line subway, is a much-needed project. Many people in the area are "transit-dependent," so constructing a high-capacity system makes sense. But I hope that running the train past several cemeteries, including Evergreen, won't continue to "haunt" the project.

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