CicLAvia Returns to Downtown

Expect to see plenty of blue and gold during the return of CicLAvia’s annual “Heart of LA” event in Downtown this weekend. That’s because this year’s event, which blocks off portions of the city from automobiles, doubles as part of the University of California Los Angeles’ ongoing centennial celebration. 

The free event, taking place on Sunday, Oct. 6, will bar cars from streets snaking throughout Chinatown, the Civic Center, the Historic Core, the Arts District and Little Tokyo in favor of bicycles, pedestrians and other wheeled vehicles. Streets surrounding Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights and MacArthur Park will also be closed off for the event.

“UCLA has accomplished so much in its first century, fueled by a spirit of innovation and inclusion,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block said in a prepared statement. “This institution has proudly challenged, contributed and connected in ways that serve the world and particularly greater Los Angeles, the diverse and vibrant region that has helped define who we are.”

In May, the university held a birthday celebration in Grand Park in front of City Hall, featuring music from the UCLA marching band, speeches from alumni and food trucks and activities. The event culminated with the lighting of City Hall, the Grand Park fountain and other Downtown Los Angeles landmarks in UCLA’s traditional blue and gold colors.

The Civic Center, near City Hall, will once again be the place for most of UCLA’s Downtown activities this weekend, including up-close looks at some of the school’s projects like the Augmented Reality Sandbox, which allows users to mold digital terrain in real time. The Civic Center will also host lawn games, photo booths and educational pop-up booths.

The location is fitting. UCLA began at the current site of the Central Library in 1882 as the Los Angeles outlet of the California State Normal School, the southern branch of the California State Normal School in San Jose (now San Jose State University).

In 1914, the school moved to Vermont Avenue and five years later the school was made into the southern branch of the University of California in Berkley — the second official member of the UC system. In 1927, having outgrown its Vermont property, the school began construction on a its current home.

Additional information, including a map of the CicLAvia route, is available at ciclavia.org.

sthomas@timespublications.com.