Unearthed Bottles and Bartered Babies at LAVA’s Sunday Salon

On July 25, LAVA put out a call for culturally curious Angelenos to gather in the upstairs dining room of Downtown’s historic Clifton’s Cafeteria for our fifth monthly Sunday Salon.

After scattered conversation and dining, an eager group gathered ’round Visionary Miguel Angel Corzo as he shared his experiences adapting the 1888 Brunswig building opposite Olvera Street into a modern, seismically-sound cultural institution, the soon-to-open LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes–quite an accomplishment considering nobody knew until work began on the project that the five-story brick building had no foundations! A highlight of his talk came when Miguel Angel displayed a few recently excavated beer, wine and perfume bottles discovered during construction, which are believed to date from circa 1840-50.

Next up, Visionary Joan Renner spoke on the dark and nefarious history of L.A.’s old Chinatown (where Union Station stands today). From opium dens to fallen women, bartered babies to subterranean tunnels of vice, Chinatown embodied the weirdest fantasies of early 20th century Angelenoes, and Joan’s illustrated talk was both fascinating and horrifying. And then Visionary Mike the Poet closed the proceedings with a rousing rhyme celebrating the common language shared by all LA people: East Side rock and roll.

For video of the archeological discoveries, click here. And for photos of the Salon and subsequent walking tour of Olvera Street (hosted by Richard Schave) and preview walkthrough of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, click here. A short video excerpt from Richard’s walking tour, about Christine Sterling’s complex motivations for preserving Olvera Street, is here.

The Sunday Salon is always held on the last Sunday of the month, from noon to 2pm upstairs in Clifton’s Cafeteria at 7th & Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles. Put it in your calendar, and we hope you’ll join us on August 29, for surprises soon to be announced.