Happy Birthday Los Angeles – Let’s Eat!

September 5, 2011

The city of Los Angeles was founded on September 3, 1781. The first permanent colonial settlement was given the rather prolix name of El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles de Porciúncula. Translated, it means “the Town of Our Lady of the Angels of Porciúncula.” The name refers to a shrine to the Virgin Mary in Assisi, Italy; it was also the name of what would eventually be called the Los Angeles River.

King Carlos III of Spain ordered Governor Felipe de Neve to build a presidio — a fortified military base — and a town on the Porciúncula River. The governor asked for volunteers to come up from Mexico; he hoped for 24 families, and he got 11; there were 52 settlers in all. De Neve gets credit for being one of the first modern city planners, because he drew up a plan for the pueblo before actually building it. Los Angeles was laid out in the Spanish tradition: a rectangular settlement consisting of a city plaza, a town house, a guardhouse, and a granary, all built in the Spanish architectural style. The volunteers who built the pueblo received small plots of land for the growing of crops and the raising of cattle. De Neve followed the New Spain colonialist agenda: subdue the locals, recruit a workforce, defend against other colonizing forces, and establish Catholic missions to convert the indigenous peoples. Los Angeles became part of Mexico in 1821, but was bought by the United States in 1848 as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

That little ranch town housing just over 50 souls is now the second most populous city in the country, with 3.8 million residents, called “Angelenos.” It covers an area of almost 480 square miles, houses the “Entertainment Capital of the World” in Hollywood, and has the third largest gross metropolitan product (GMP) in the world.

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Olvera Street is in the oldest part of Downtown Los Angeles, California, and is part of the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument. Many refer to it as “La Placita Olvera.” The website is under construction, warns visitors not to reproduce or use any part of the site, has text to join an e-newsletter but offers no text, no social media links, and no way to sign-up for the e-newsletter… http://www.olvera-street.com/

Multi-culturalism abounds in Los Angeles. Just steps from historic Olvera Street is Los Angeles’ version of Chinatown (almost pocket-sized in scope) but with great Chinese restaurants like Yang Chow on Broadway Street http://www.yangchow.com/ When you visit Olivera Street, if you find parking, no trip is complete without a stop at Phillipe’s The Original for French dip sandwiches.

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http://www.philippes.com/

I simply love this place for the history and atmosphere. Philippe’s “French Dipped Sandwich” is the specialty of the house and consists of either roast beef, roast pork, leg of lamb, turkey or ham served on a lightly textured, freshly baked French roll which has been dipped in the natural gravy of the roasts. Swiss, American, Monterey Jack or Blue cheese may be added. To accompany your sandwich we offer a tart, tangy cole slaw <very good!>, homemade potato and macaroni salads, hard boiled eggs pickled in beet juice <can you believe it?> and spices, large Kosher style, sour dill or sweet pickles, black olives and hot yellow chili peppers.

Philippe’s Etiquette

There is a unique style of service at Philippe’s, that dates back to its opening, in which, lines form in front of the long deli-display counter at each of the “Carvers.” Each Carver has everything needed to prepare your meal; sandwiches, salads, soups, chili, sides, dessert, beer, wine or coffee.

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