Originally Posted by fhammon
Just Googling around everybody seems to think this a cool thing. It's all about the mural and it's preservation but nothing about preserving the character of the historic district.
I would imagine Christine Sterling is turning in her grave.
Meh, Christine Sterling was a jerk anyway. She's responsible for saving (some of) the Avila adobe but she also advocated the destruction of other historic sites, including the Lugo House, because they didn't fit in with her personal vision of what she wanted the plaza to be. The Lugo House was chock full of Chinamen after all - better to just tear it down along with anything else east of Los Angeles St. (which wasn't much after Union Station came), and put in a parking lot.
Sterling, who had never gone to Mexico and never would, turned Olvera Street into a romanticized, tourist-friendly facsimile of a Mexican marketplace, not least because she didn't actually involve the local Mexican-American population until it was time for her to pick out the people she would allow to sell things there. But in the process of saving the buildings she also largely separated them from their true, complicated history in favor of a simple, inoffensive fake one. Preserving its character now just seems like closing the barn doors 80 years after the horses bolted.
She tried to do a similar fake-authenticity thing for the Chinese community with her China City project. I can only assume that part of the reason for its failure was that once again she
decided what it should be (rickshaw rides and buildings by Hollywood set designers), and not the community it was meant to represent. China City burned down, while the authentic and community-supported new Chinatown thrived.
Sterling was there at the unveiling of the mural in question, and was responsible for whitewashing it. So although she may indeed be turning in her grave, it's probably less because of the canopy and more because of the fact that the mural survived her and her contemporaries' attempted destruction of it.