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MacArthur Park is located in Los Angeles, California in the Westlake neighborhood. It was originally called Westlake Park and dates all the way back to the late nineteenth century. During the early 1940s, the park was renamed in honor of General Douglas MacArthur. The City of Los Angeles later designated it as a Historic Cultural Monument.
Wilshire Boulevard divides the park in half. The southern part is mainly comprised of a large lake, and the northern part includes a children’s playground, soccer fields, band shell, amphitheatre, and recreation center. The bandshell has been renovated recently into the Levitt Paviliion and hosts world music, beat music, salsa music, big band and jazz concerts, with free concerts being held during the summer months.
The park was built during the 1880s and originally was named Westlake Park. The area during the mid-19th century was a swampland; it had become a leading vacation destination by the 1890s with numerous luxury hotels surrounding it. During the 1950s, there were electric boat rentals at the lake that were named after animal characters in comic books. While you are in LA you should also visit our historic Chinatown.
The park became infamous for violence after 1985 when drownings, shoot-outs, drug dealing and prostitution became commonplace in the park and surrounding neighborhood. Gang-on-gang violence still occasionally occurs in and near the park.
Starting in 2002, community and business leaders, along with the Los Angeles Police Department, spearheaded a revitalization effort to revitalize MacArthur Park. The efforts included surveillance cameras being installed, a recreation center being opened, a new Metro station, early-morning drink vendors, increased business, return of the fountain and paddle boas, and big community festivals that attracted thousands of people. The park was recognized in 2005 for having the largest reduction in crime statistics in the U.S per resident.
Levitt Pavilion opened in 2007 at MacArthur Park, and offered more than 50 free concerts every summer, which attracted families from all over the city. During that same year, there was a return of the paddle boats. In 2009 they became available to rent on weekends. The boathouse closed in early 2010. The paddles boats were also eventually removed, and in 2014 the boathouse was torn down.
MacArthur Park Today
The revitalization efforts made by the city have resulted in MacArthur park and the neighborhood being much safer and more pleasant. During the day, children are able to play and joggers are walkers can use the paths without too much hassle. There are also numerous sellers of souvenirs, snacks and ice cream in the area.
There are numerous walking paths crisscrossing the park, along with plenty of green grass and trees. The large lake makes up almost half of the park. When walking around the perimeter of the lake you can enjoy nice views of the skyline of Los Angeles over the water.
MacArthur park features numerous restrooms, picnic areas and public sports fields. It is an iconic Los Angeles area park, that is the frequent site of art exhibits, events and concerts.