Recently, I reported that long-lost Marchesseault Street would be making a return of sorts. Elizabeth Carvajal, who is managing the project for LA Metro, kindly answered some questions:
FC: First, I'll need to introduce you properly. Can you tell me a little bit about your role at Metro and how you came to be involved with this project?
Carvajal: My name is Elizabeth Carvajal; I am a Senior Manager with Metro's Transit Oriented Communities group. I manage a robust work program that includes short to long term projects at and around Los Angeles Union Station. I am the Project Manager for the Los Angeles Union Station Forecourt and Esplanade Improvements Project.
FC: I've covered the fact that Marchessault Street has not existed in its original form for some time; however, I've had a very hard time creating an accurate timeline. From the city model at NHMLA, I know it was renamed before 1935. Do you have any idea when the street was altered/renamed?
Carvajal: Unfortunately, I do not. According to the 1888 Sanborn maps, several residential and commercial buildings were in place on the west side of Alameda Street, including the Pironi and Slatri Wine and Brandy Vaults and Distillery on the north side of the project area, the Los Angeles City Water Co. to the north of Marchessault Street, and various Chinese commercial buildings south of Marchessault Street. It appears to have still been in place in 1894. According to our research, by 1950, Marchessault was now East Sunset Boulevard.
FC: Despite being elected six times, Damien Marchessault has been so thoroughly erased from LA history that he does not appear on the official list of former mayors, no surviving pictures of him have ever been found*, and the memorial plaque outside the Biscailuz building is factually inaccurate. Countless former streets in this part of LA have been paved over and forgotten over the past 236 years. How did the upcoming demarcation of Marchessault Street come to be part of the project?
Carvajal: The design concept was developed prior to my joining Metro. I imagine that it was identified conceptually because of its former proximity in the project site. This concept will be discussed further during the upcoming design process.
FC: Will there be anything (e.g. signage, a plaque) to indicate what the contrasting pavers signify? If so, will there be any mention of the Los Angeles City Water Company (DWP predecessor) or the numerous Old Chinatown businesses that once lined Marchessault Street?
Carvajal: The demarcation of Marchessault Street will be evaluated further during the design process as well as any complementary plaques etc. At this time, we are not calling out the LA City Water Company or any specific businesses.
FC: Assuming all goes well, is there an estimated time frame for completion of the project?
Carvajal: If the Board certifies the Final EIR in February, we anticipate that construction would start and end in 2020.
Merci, Elizabeth. (And a beret-tip to Munson Kwok of the Chinese American Museum for putting me in touch with her.)
*I sent these questions in early December, prior to discovering that there is, in fact, a surviving picture of the Mayor.