The Militant spent a good part of his sunny Sunday afternoon partaking in the Atwater Village Centennial Street Festival.
Several hundred people descended upon the 3100 block of Glendale Blvd, where the southbound lanes were blocked off for the fest (street traffic was routed through Larga and Glenhurst avenues).
It was a neighborhood festival in every sense of the word, bringing out the Friends of Atwater Village, the local neighborhood council and the local residents association. There were arts and crafts vendors, music and dance entertainment, a trackless train ride and food (the weekly farmer's market at the nearby Wells Fargo parking lot ran a little longer on Sunday, and the Vesuvio, Baby's Badass Burgers, Kabob N'Roll and King Kone food trucks represented.
There were even pet adoptions, and local issue-oriented booths from California High-Speed Rail (which will run along the AWV's northern border) to saving the Van De Kamp's Bakery site. And yes, what would a street festival be complete without an appearance by councilman Tom LaBonge (pictured right) - who represents a portion of AWV.
There are neighborhood festivals all over this great city, but this one was centered around history (which is the main reason why the Militant made it a point to bike his ass over here).
The AWV is celebrating its 100th anniversary, which actually came in February, when the community at the time joined numerous towns and unincorporated areas that year in voting to annex themselves into the City of Los Angeles to gain access to summadat Owens Valley water. Incidentally, for most of the past century, the AWV was actually known simply as "Atwater," and it wasn't until the late 1980s when the name "Atwater Village" came into use (derived from a community sign once placed on the Glendale Blvd median which read, "Welcome to Atwater: A village within a city").
There were pictures galore of things like old Red Cars running through Glendale Blvd, and advertisements of old businesses in the Village. The nearby Artology 101 gallery had several historical pictures on display. The Friends of Atwater Village was also promoting the production of AWV's own Arcadia Publishing "Images of America" book, slated to be published by early 2011.
Pictures are always fascinating, but the best kind of history is the kind that has been passed down for generations - oral history. The Militant met a native Atwater Villager named Michael who recalled a time when he and some friends rode their bikes through the concreted Los Angeles River bed in his youth, and would race against the rich kids who biked down from Los Feliz. But the more working-class AWV kids knew where all the potholes in the concrete were, and when challenged by the rich kids, they would pick the course, only to sabotage the Los Feliz kids to win the race.
Years later, Michael met someone through his professional work who engaged in a conversation about growing up near the Los Angeles River. Turned out the other person was one of those rich Los Feliz kids.
Like the Militant always says, Los Angeles is really a small town. It just happens to have a lot of concrete.