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Retracing the Footsteps of L.A.'s Settlers

September 05, 1993|ANNE LOUISE BANNON

The date: Sept. 4, 1781. The scene: the 10-year-old San Gabriel Mission. Hot and dusty, 44 people in 11 families, accompanied by four soldiers, prepare for the last leg of their journey.

Recruited in Mexico, they have crossed the deserts of Arizona and Baja California, coming up through Father Serra's missions at San Diego and San Juan Capistrano.

Now, they will take a nine-mile walk to a spot near a river where they will build a new city, El Pueblo De La Reina De Los Angeles.

Fast forward to the present. The pueblo dedicated to Our Lady, Queen of the Angels, is now better known as L.A., one of the largest cities in the world.

Monday morning, Los Pobladores 200, a group of about 250 descendants of those original 11 families, and whoever else wants to go along will gather at the San Gabriel Mission to re-enact the walk to the pueblo, downtown at Olvera Street, in honor of Los Angeles' birthday.

The Labor Day walk has been a tradition since Los Angeles' bicentennial in 1981, when local historian T. Willard Hunter came up with the idea. He was put in touch with Marie Northrup, who was putting together Los Pobladores 200.

"It turned out to be an interesting family experience," said Hunter.

People liked the walk so much, they continued it each Labor Day since.

Hunter, 77, said that the three-hour walk is mostly downhill and is taken at a moderate paces.

It starts at 6 a.m., partly because it's cooler, and also so participants can enjoy the birthday festivities at the pueblo.

Cars can be left at the mission, 537 W. Mission Drive.

Walkers can return there on eastbound bus No. 487 to San Gabriel, stopping at the busway on Arcadia Street, off Alameda Street, just south of Union Station.

The bus leaves hourly, about 45 minutes past the hour.

The walk is free; return bus fare is $1.90.

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