Olvera Street, L.A.’s ode to hispanic heritage, feels the effects of the pandemic

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  • The Olvera Street Fountain.

  • Cultural goods sold by vendors on Olvera Street.

  • Vendors sell handcrafted items such as pottery, belts, wallets, purses, leather, and Mexican folk art.

  • El Paseo Inn Restaurant, established in the 1930s temporarily closed down due to the effects of this COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Hecho con Cariño, a gift shop that sells a diverse selection of goods, sugar skulls and Frida Kahlo figurines can also be found inside.

  • A Wishing Well on Olvera Street.

  • A cleared-out building appears to have been neglected for a while.

  • Casa La Golondrina Mexican Cafe, located on Olvera Street. Temporarily closed due to the effects of the pandemic.

Olvera Street, also recognized as “the birthplace of Los Angeles,” is a Mexican marketplace where the heart of Hispanic culture thrives within the busy city life of LA. Though, like many other businesses, Olvera Street vendors are struggling to get by and are unsure how long they can resist the damaging effects of the pandemic.

The long strip of street vendors, historical buildings, restaurants, cafes, and cultural goods can be found in the center of the landmark officially known as El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument. As of recently, the marketplace has not been receiving its usual influx of visitors and tourists. For many years, the vendors of Olvera Street have fought to keep the extensive legacy of the community alive. However, the battle to overcome the pandemic has since grown so that the endangered soul of the historical city landmark may be protected.

I, for one, heard about the conflict Olvera Street was facing and decided to pay a visit to the marketplace on a cloudy afternoon. Under all the noise and turmoil of the city, behind it all lies the colorful street of businesses selling the most beautiful merchandise. Anything from handcrafted items such as pottery, belts, wallets, purses, shoes, leather, and Mexican folk art can be purchased from a multitude of merchants.

Yet, apart from the vibrance of the marketplace, on my recent visit, I noticed the lack of people and open shops. Many small businesses, especially restaurants have suffered, succumbing to the consequences of the virus that has left us all in fear.

Despite the indefinite future for Olvera Street, people are still maintaining hope for the community that restlessly built the landmark up from the ground. For generations, families and friends have indulged and appreciated the cultural destination as a slice of paradise within LA’s intense city life. As a young Latina woman myself, I encourage others to go support the small businesses of Olvera Street so that they can continue to keep Hispanic heritage alive for many more years to come.