Christine Sterling, known as the “Mother of Olvera Street”, a wealthy, young, and well-connected socialite from Northern California discovered Olvera Street in 1926 and was shocked by the dilapidated condition of the oldest part of the city. Where once had stood the city’s finest buildings and cultural center was now a hideaway for prostitutes and street crime. The Old Olvera Street had a date with the bulldozers, but Christine would have none of that. She envisioned a Mexican Marketplace and a cultural center in the heart of Los Angeles to preserve the memory of old L.A. Christine’s romantic vision brought Los Angeles’ first street back to life and brought in Mexican American merchants to sell their wares, artifacts and celebrate their fiestas as they would in old Mexico.
The Avila Adobe and most of the other 26 surrounding structures were ticketed for demolition. Christine campaigned for favorable press from the Los Angeles Times, and with that came help investors and government agencies (including the Sheriff’s Department, which provided prisoners for labor). Her dream of closing the street to automobile traffic and opening a Mexican village came to fruition on Easter Sunday, 1930. Read more at El Pueblo de Los Angeles or on our site: