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New focus for Latino culture

A $54-million center in L.A. will mix exhibitions, education and performance.

April 11, 2011|Reed Johnson

Corzo said he's working closely with "all interested parties" to find a way to respectfully memorialize the former cemetery while also allowing the center to incorporate the site into its educational mission. He said that the archdiocese's detailed records of the dead provides a wealth of historically useful information about the makeup of Los Angeles during the period after Mexico's War of Independence from Spain to the Mexican American War, which resulted in Los Angeles' becoming part of the United States. For the next several months, "LA Starts Here!" will occupy most of the center's first floor. The second floor is largely taken up with a hands-on interpretive history center, "Calle Principal," that re-creates some of the stores and other features of Main Street in the 1920s, when the area surrounding LA Plaza served as a first stop for many of the city's newly arrived immigrants.

An outdoor stage with seating for up to 1,400 people will be used for concerts and other activities. A 30,000-square-foot garden invites strollers, and a pathway that cuts across the site will supply a pedestrian link to downtown attractions.

LA Plaza's seismically retrofitted interior space was designed by L.A.-based Chu+Gooding Architects. Its grounds were designed by Rios Clementi Hale Studios, also of Los Angeles.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday, April 15, 2011 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 51 words Type of Material: Correction
Latino cultural center: A map accompanying an article about the new LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in the April 11 Calendar mislabeled El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument as El Pueblo de los Angeles State Historic Park and gave incorrect boundaries for the monument. A corrected map is above.

By phone, Carlos Tortolero, president of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, which he founded in 1982, praised LA Plaza's opening.

"It should remind everybody that the mexicanos have been there from Day One," he said.

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reed.johnson@latimes.com

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