Olvera Street - History - Early Days

Early Days

Los Angeles was founded in 1781 on a site southeast of Olvera Street near the Los Angeles River by a group of Spanish pobladores (settlers), consisting of 11 families — 44 men, women, and children, accompanied by a contingent of soldiers — who had set out from the nearby Mission San Gabriel Arcángel to establish a secular pueblo along the banks of the Porciúncula River at the Indian village of Yang-na. The initial settlement was dubbed El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora Reina de los Ángeles. To provide for the religious needs of the settlers, priests from San Gabriel established an asistencia (a sub-mission), the Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles Asistencia. As the town grew, it eventually built its own parish church, which is today known as the "Old Plaza Church." Unpredictable flooding forced settlers to move the town to higher ground. The town, complete with a church and rectangular plaza surrounded by house lots and planting fields, was placed in its current location in the early 19th century. Spanish colonial rule lasted until 1820. This period saw the first streets and adobe buildings of the town constructed. The town came under the control of newly independent Mexico in 1821. During this time of Mexican rule, which lasted until 1848, the Plaza area was the heart of Mexican community life in Los Angeles and center of an economy based upon cattle ranching and agriculture.

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