History of Lincoln Park

East Los Angeles Park
Eastside Park
& Eastlake Park (East Lake Park)
Lincoln Park has long been the recreational center of East Los Angeles.

From humble beginnings, City Council created the Department of Parks in 1889. At that time the city owned several pieces of land that were believed suitable for park purposes. They turned over these properties to the newly organized Department of Parks. In a generous mood during Christmas of 1896, Colonel Griffith J. Griffith offered to donate five square miles of the Los Feliz Rancho to the City as a park. He said, "it must be made a place of recreation and rest for the masses, a resort for the rank and file, for the plain people..." What followed was the development of several more parks including the original pueblo lands of the old plaza, Elysian Park, Pershing Square, and later Lincoln Park, MacArthur Park, Echo Lake Park, and Hollenbeck Park. 

While these parks were available in the early years of the 20th century, there were no planned and supervised recreation activities in the parks. Children were forced to find their play on public streets and vacant lots that were hardly suited for organized games. These conditions triggered a civic movement to officially establish a Playground Commission and Department. Their plan was "for the prevention and control of juvenile delinquency and to provide wholesome and constructive play and recreation for youth, in supervised playgrounds, as an alternative to play in the city streets." 

Today, the City's Department of Recreation and Parks manages all municipally owned and operated recreation and parks facilities within the City and has been the human face of the City of Los Angeles. Rooted in the goals of our predecessors, we continue to bring people together to celebrate, to compete, to learn new skills, and to relax with family and friends.
(History of Recreation and Parks www.laparks.org)

The Founder of  Lincoln Park is Levi Newton Breed a member of the City Council 1886-1889.
A single plaque on the Breed memorial reads;

In 1863 Dr. J.S. Griffin, the Los Angeles city health officer (and county coroner 1862-1865) during a smallpox outbreak, is offered city land at greatly reduced prices instead of money for his services. He was to be paid $3,000 and since the city was unable to pay him he was offered 2,000 acres of land for fifty cents an acre. This land would later become known as East Los Angeles and even later as Lincoln Heights.

Part of this land was purchased by the city in 1874 and was subsequently transferred to the Southern Pacific Railroad Company in return for establishment of railroad shops in East Los Angeles. When the Southern Pacific failed to build the promised shops the city purchased this tract of land and dedicated it for park purposes in 1881. The city then laid out a park, initially called East Los Angeles Park and then Eastlake Park in 1901, which quickly became a major amusement center for the people of Los Angeles. One of its main attractions was the area's first zoological display. In 1917, the City Council responded to a petition from nearby residents and renamed it Lincoln Park after a local high school and as a driving force for this community.

Bordering the north edge of the Park, Selig Place was named after William Selig, who in 1911 opened a zoo and constructed a movie studio. A carousel opened in 1914, attracting up to 150,000 riders a year at a nickel a ride. However, the carousel was gutted by fire several months after it was designated Historic Cultural Monument No. 153 by the City of Los Angeles.

The park's first sculpture, Lincoln the Lawyer was dedicated on July 4th, 1926. Nearly 1000 spectators attended the unveiling.

This was followed in 1937 by Florence Nightingale, commissioned by the Works Progress administration as part of the New Deal.
New.... Checkout my YouTube of Flo!

See more sculptures next to Lincoln Park at El Parque de Mexico.

LINCOLN PARK Odds and Ends:
May 19, 1917; Park renamed after Lincoln High School.
Was also an arboretum. It had a large greenhouse (hothouse) with rare and exotic plants.
John D. Rockefeller presented a rare orchid collection that was housed at the park.

Lincoln Park
Over A Century Of Recreation!

Lincoln Park Today.
Aerial view of Lincoln Park in 2000

Priceless historic photos of Lincoln Park.

Lincoln Park Merry-Go-Round. Photos submitted by the original owners and others!

Check out this awesome collection of postcards from 1900s to 1950s ?

The remodeling of the pool, office, auditorium, and gym from the 1970s.

Other interesting sites in Lincoln Park. Can you help?

Eucalyptus trees in Lincoln Park.

John J. White had the boat & refreshments concession from 1897-1905.

Eastlake Park Scenic Railway built and operated by master machinist John Coit.


Lincoln Park buried treasure.
I made this page in 2001 and I forgot about it until now!

Aztec design concrete playground.
See photos before and after its destruction!

Back to Lincoln Heights
Have any old stories about the park?
Tell us what the park was like years ago and what attractions were there that are now long gone.
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Also email me if you have corrections or have additional facts of anything on this web site.