Last week, the past, present and future all came together in Downtown Los Angeles. It also involved a waterfall.
On Wednesday, July 3, the Fort Moore Pioneer Memorial was rededicated, 61 years to the day after its original opening in 1958. The event at 451 N. Hill St. included placing a time capsule that will be glimpsed by future generations.
Nearly 200 people attended the event, which marked the culmination of a three-year renovation. The work included repairing the 80-foot long, 47-foot tall water feature and restoring damaged tiling.
During the repairs, crews uncovered a time capsule that had been placed at the original dedication. It consisted largely of items related to the monument itself. There were photos of its architects, budgetary documents, news clippings and more.
Kristen Sakoda, executive director of the County Department of Arts and Culture, said that the plan was to create an inclusive time capsule that reflected the flavor and diverse culture of Los Angeles.
“We do have a photo of the County Board of Supervisors and contributions from departments, but we also have everyday citizens who got to propose items and contribute items,” Sakoda said. “It’s a way of telling our story now and a way of telling more diverse stories.”
The items include memorabilia from the Los Angeles Rams, a tiara from a local girl’s quinceañera, military pins, artwork, and letters to the future from students at Leo Politi Elementary School.
There are also amateur and professional photographs. They include Glendale resident Soo Kim’s shot of her dog Einstein at Runyon Canyon park. The photo shows Einstein with blue ethereal remnants from Space X’s Falcon Nine rocket launch in the background.
Kim said that the photo not only represents Angelenos’ love for dogs and other animals, but is a visual reminder of the park.
“I hope Runyon Canyon is there after 50 years for people to see,” Kim said. “Then they see the photo of Einstein and say, oh wow, this park, it’s still here.”
A number of local institutions also submitted material, among them Downtown’s Japanese American National Museum, the Italian American Museum and the California African American Museum.
Taylor Bythewood-Porter, an assistant history curator at CAAM, submitted material related to the recent exhibit California Bound: Slavery on the New Frontier, 1848-1865 as a way to broaden the discussion of inclusivity and representation.
“I think we were really looking at early California history… before it was a federal territory and before it became an official state,” said Bythewood-Porter. “Really, we wanted to make sure that the story of early African Americans was featured in the time capsule and really make it more inclusive and a representation of early California history.”
Drought, Deterioration and Restoration
The Fort Moore monument was constructed in 1957 to commemorate the Mormon Battalion and the New York Volunteer American military forces that first raised the United States flag in the California territory nearly 110 years prior.
The monument features a terra cotta relief, the waterfall, a 275-foot long brick wall and a flagpole.
In 1977, the waterfall was turned off due to a statewide drought. In ensuing decades the monument fell into disrepair, and became a destination for a skateboarders and homeless encampments.
In 2014, the Board of Supervisors budgeted $4.1 million for its restoration. The City Council chipped in another $500,000. The cost of the renovation eventually ballooned to approximately $6 million.
Renovations started in 2016, and included repairing the waterfall, adding ADA compliant ramps, upgrading the railings, and replacing the aging electrical system and water pumps. Crews also refurbished the pools and replaced the waterfall’s background with nearly 285,000 handmade tiles from California Pottery and Tile Works.
At the rededication, First District Supervisor Hilda Solis lauded the work done to bring the monument back to life.
“This monument is grand,” Solis said. “Just look at the etching on the walls, there; I don’t think I’ve ever gotten this close, but I’m in awe when I drive down the boulevard and see the work that has been done here that is on display, and will be on display for many years to come.”
Sakoda said there is no timeframe for when the capsule will be unearthed. Still, whenever that happens, she said future Angelenos will get a full idea of what life was like in 2019 Los Angeles.