Situated in the heart of all of downtown LA's industrialisation, the popular historical attractions of Olvera Street and Union Station offer an insight into the days of Los Angeles past. The oldest part of Downtown LA, Olvera Street is part of the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument and features 27 historical buildings including the Avila Adobe built in 1818, the Pelanconi House built in 1857 and Sepulveda House built in 1887.
Founded in 1781 by Spanish settlers, the city of Los Angeles was originally named El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Ángeles and the first streets and adobe buildings were established along with a parish church, now known as the 'Old Plaza Church'. During Mexican rule, the Plaza was the heart of ethnic Californian life in Los Angeles and by 1852 the first newspaper, the Los Angeles Star, published in both Spanish and English near the Plaza. The Plaza remained the center of town and the small alley that branched off the Plaza was named Olvera Street in 1877 in honour of LA County's first Superior Court Judge Augustín Olvera. During the 1880s, settlers from the southern states flocked to the town resulting in rapid expansion.
As the town grew, the historical site was neglected however in an effort to preserve California's 'authentic' heritage and as tourism to the area became more popular, a public campaign was launched to revamp Olvera Street into the tourist attraction, living museum and modern Mexican marketplace it is today. Offering an authentic insight into preserved Spanish culture, Olvera Street is a popular tourist attraction featuring brick façade buildings, small market stalls, colourful piñatas, bull horns, sombreros, pottery and cuisine.
Opposite Olvera Street, the historic railway station of Union Station is still in operation today and is the easiest way to get to Olvera Street. Opening in 1939, Union Station is the main railway station in Los Angeles and is considered the 'Last of the Great Railway Stations' and in 1980 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Still a major transportation hub, Union Station is renowned for its spectacular interior design featuring marble floors, art deco styling as well as Dutch Colonial Revival architecture, Mission Revival, Streamline Moderne and eight-pointed stars. The iconic station has also been featured in a number of movies including the 1973 Robert Redford and Barbara Streisand film The Way We Were, the 1982 comedy mystery starring Steve Martin Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid and more recently in the 2013 film starring Sean Penn and Ryan Gosling Gangster Squad.