Los Angeles, the city recognized worldwide for its glamour, is also well known as a center of ethnic diversity. Throughout its history Los Angeles has been home to immigrants from all over the world resulting in a culturally varied city. Arguably the strongest influence, Mexican immigrants had a great impact on the city’s history. Today this is evident within downtown Los Angeles’s Olvera Street.
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Locally known as the Placita Olvera, it is known to be a center for Mexican culture. There one can purchase various ethnic items such as Mexican toys, woven bags, and traditional clothing. Perhaps the most enticing is the food sold. The superfluous quantity and assortment of food is reason alone to visit Olvera Street. There typical Mexican food can be found, churros, tacos, burritos, to name just a few. But regional food is also offered, they have northern Mexican specialties as well as Baja California style seafood. But just like in Mexico the very best food is made in the more casual stands as opposed to the formal restaurants. A small 6 by 6 foot restaurant located in Olvera Street is home to the simplest but delicious taquitos with guacamole sauce. Also a grand find is a small place almost hidden by a small stairway that has the best filled churros. These churros are truly a delicacy especially the ones with chocolate filled centers. But with every great meal entertainment is welcome. At Olvera Street the Plaza becomes alive with tourists and music on the weekends. All types of Mexican music are seen from mariachi music to traditional Aztec dancing. Urban music is also played sometimes as well; popular regional Mexican artists have been known to perform at Olvera Street.
But the allure of Olvera doesn’t stop there; this beautiful cultural center is also a historic landmark. Since the Spanish colonial times Olvera Street has been the center of celebrations for Mexicans. The oldest church in California is located here in at Olvera Street and is still open. Also a popular tourist attraction, the Avila Adobe was built during the Spanish colonial times and remains today as a museum. The Avila Adobe’s Spanish influence is evident within its structure and furniture. Visitors can enter the house and explore the rooms inside. The most interesting is the outside patio that has an outdoor stone stove, which was typical of the time. The parlor contains exquisite furniture from the era that is not seen often. The whole house truly is a timeless Mexican beauty. The Avila Adobe has a great history; the house was raided by American during the Mexican American war in 1847. At that point in the war California was just days away from being ceded to the United States. The inhabitants fled and left the house somewhat abandoned for decades after. That was until Christine Sterling, an American woman, decided to restore the house and Olvera Street. It was then that Olvera Street became both an important cultural symbol for Mexicans and a major Los Angeles tourist attraction. Today people from all over the globe visit Olvera Street to enjoy the music, food and architecture of the Plaza. With all the attractions the Placita Olvera offers who wouldn’t want to spend a day there?
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