Sunday, July 13, 2014

'Hood #43: Echo Park to See the (Stolen) Lotus Flowers

The neighborhood of Echo Park is probably best known as the home of Dodgers Stadium, but since I'm not a sports fan, I had to find something else to do there. Today I went to see the lotus flowers as part of a weekend lotus festival.

I was chatting with a friend who filled me in on a bit of history (which I confirmed via an LA Times article) about the Echo Park Lake lotus plants. They're believed to be direct descendants of plants imported from China in the 1920s, but by three years ago for reasons unclear the lotus flowers had entirely died out. It was, however, rumored that years prior a man had (illegally) stolen a shoot, cultivated it and had been selling the offspring. The team restoring the lake followed up on the rumor... and in the end, the guy who stole the clipping sold lotus blooms to the city for $30,000 and everybody's happy.

Anyway, Echo park is in northeast Los Angeles.  I'd wondered if I should have picked an ordinary day (vs. a festival) to see the flowers to avoid crowds—but as luck would have it, there was a World Cup game happening so it was lively, but not jam-packed.

There are several beds of lotus flowers in the lake, and they really are quite spectacular. The lake and park feel like a calm oasis with downtown LA in the distance.  We went for a pedal boat ride (only $10 for an hour), which burned off the calories in the delicious Vietnamese chicken salad I bought off a cart that was there from Gingergrass restaurant in Silver Lake.

Mary Jo and me on Echo Park Lake
Just as we were leaving, my friend reminded me we were going to see the Angelus Temple—a huge baptist temple built in the 1920s that sits at the edge of the park—but we were out of time so that'll have to wait for another day.

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