Located between Sixth & Seventh and Alvarado & Park View streets, in 1926 Westlake Park was a scenic oasis west of downtown Los Angeles, overlooked by fashionable apartment houses, hotels and tearooms.
In the 1920s, Wilshire Blvd. didn’t yet extend to downtown Los Angeles; rather, it terminated at the west end of the park. The causeway that carries Wilshire across the lake today didn’t open until late 1934
The park entered around West Lake, which was fed from a natural spring. The walkways that ringed the lake were popular for strolling.
With Los Angeles’ mild weather, courting swains could take their sweethearts out boating on the lake all year ‘round.
In January 1920 the Park Commission had architect Frederick J. Soper draw up plans for a new boathouse/café on the lake’s north shore. An 1896 band shell was replaced by a band stand that extended over the lake, where on lazy Sunday afternoons and warm summer evenings free live band concerts could be heard. The new Elks Hall (built 1922-23) can be seen towering over the park in this view.
In 1922 new technology allowed radio broadcasts to be transmitted to the park, so canoedelers could paddle to music. In the summer of 1925, Westlake’s bandstand was equipped with a transmitting station, allowing concerts from the park to be broadcast around the city. On Christmas Eve 1926, a lighted tree was anchored to the middle of the lake and carols performed by local church choirs were broadcast live over station KNX
Boats on the lake could be enjoyed day and night.
Scenes of people enjoying Westlake Park’s charms in the wintertime were especially popular for sending back to eastern friends who were busy shoveling snow.
The 1934 causeway bisected the lake. The northern portion was eventually drained. In the early days of World War II, May 1942, the park would be renamed in honor of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, just as Central Park had been renamed Pershing Square Park in a burst of patriotism after WWI.
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