Monster Park

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In the ever popular pursuit of forgetting, the LA region is facing yet another potential loss of an artifact from its already limited history: Monster Park is being considered for renovation. Hidden away in a corner of San Gabriel’s Vincent Lugo Park, Monster Park (aka Dinosaur Park aka La Laguna) is a collection of concrete sea creatures designed and built by Mexican immigrant Benjamin Dominguez during the 60’s. These creations are remarkable for the sense of wonder they inspire in the youngsters that have been lucky enough to play on these functional works of art, their simple structure prodding developing minds to fill in the missing storyline. Of course, wherever you find a project that inspires creativity but generates no income you’ll find a bureaucrat creatively finding a reason to dismantle the whole thing. Luckily, some people are putting up a fight.
Click ahead for more pics.

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Freshly painted snail slide.

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The Red Pirate. What the pirate does for a living, that’s all up to you.

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Starfish for climbing.

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This dragon slide reminds me of the amazing Aztec pyramid we lost from Lincoln Park.

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The octopus is my favorite, a crazy looking statue that you can actually climb on and use. Try doing that at your next museum visit!

It would be a shame to see all of these wonderful figures disappear in the name of profitable development or that bogus “safety” which is just a fear of silly lawsuits. When the sticks in the mud change our way of life, the terrorists of fun have won!

Links:
Friends of La Laguna
KCET Life and Times report
Online Petition to Save the Park

11 Replies to “Monster Park”

  1. Thanks for bringing back childhood memories El Chavo, I spent many hours playing on the octopus statue, like you. I returned to the park in the late eighties for birthday parties for my children, but my daughter has birthday parties at Chuck e Cheese for my grandchildren, instead of outdoors as we once did.

  2. The market is the market; business is business. A good compromise would be for the developer to incorporate a re-do of the figures, possible something more space-age, somewhere on the site. Assign the roof to it? Put a promenade around the building on a set-back level?

    Here in UK, the protesters fighting for preservation (grandchildren of the ones who protested AGAINST it in the first place) would be lobbying English, Scottish or Welsh Heritage Trust to declare it as being a site of outstanding historical interest and/or unique architectural merit.

    Cheers, Cy Quick at mydigest.wordpress.com

  3. Hmmm… a whimsical place where children play, filling the air with their cheery voices, while right behind them are these relatively new bloated stucco boxes (hey — look at them – they are big ugly boxes!) – seems to me there might be an issue of the stucco box people not wanting their almighty peace disrupted by the discordant sounds of children’s laughter… or maybe I am being a little too cynical here. Maybe it really is just the city not wanting to have to spend the little bit of money needed for maintenance, and would prefer to spend the much larger amount needed to “renovate” the park. Well, that way the city could demonstrate “progress” and a good use of tax dollars… “we spent xxxx dollars and now the city has a “new” park…” Yeah, a new park with all sorts of nothing for kids to do most likely. Oh… am I being cynical again? Lo siento… KEEP THE MONSTERS!!!!!

  4. Qué qué?!? they teared down the Aztec pyramids????!?

    Yes, they were probably dangerous for kids but they were so amazing. When I first saw them as a kid I was floored.

    How horrible that they might tear these down too.

  5. Monster Park is the most marvelous dreamlike place, but they have ruined the snail with that cockeyed paint job. It was soooooo beautiful before. Look at all the other creatures with their subtle natural hues, and then at the poor snail, gunked up with pool-bottom paint — and whoever did it couldn’t even paint a clean line! You can see what the snail is supposed to look like (and with any luck what he will look like again someday) at the Save Monster Park site, http://monsterpark.eloyzarate.com/

    That one bad paint job scares me. I would almost rather the monsters disappeared than that whoever ruined the snail be allowed to mess them up, too.

    It does sound like the city is backing down from plans to remove the monsters, and if they’ll just leave ’em be without trying to modernize or brighten or whatever that paint job is meant to be, that would be just swell.

  6. I grew up going to this park. It was definitely the best one in the area, and that’s a pretty widely held opinion in my family. It’s not just the statues, but the entire area, which was like a gigantic sand pit. The entrance to the area was a strip of trees and yucca “maze” that acted like a portal to the desert/ocean fantasy world.

    Adults, being so tall, probably can’t see how majestic and awe-inspiring these sculptures are to a child. These things are, to kids, like what the pyramids or the Luxor Casino are to us. They’re like earthworks.

    The sea dragon’s a little messed up. They need to have more subtle colors like they used to have. They really need to respect the whole theme. If they want the wash to be more prominent, they should integrate the sand pit with the shore, and make it into a “beach”.

  7. Hey everyone,
    Thank you very much for your concern about La Laguna. I am one of the founders of Friends of La Laguna the grassroots group that has organized to save the park. We have made progress and the city is now talking conservation. Our goal is still to save La Laguna intact.
    We have incorporated as a non-profit and are fundraising from here on out: grants, t-shirts that have been a big hit. (the art is on the website) We still need to make noise, especially with the Chicano Community. We need to rally around Benjamin Dominguez’s life. When Lincoln Park was thinking about building those pyramids, they tried to find Benjamin but he had already passed,so his one Rene actually designed them and started the constuction but he could not complete it. Please get the word out!!!

  8. Thanks for the info and update Eloy! I had no idea there was any correlation between the LH structures and the Laguna ones. When the LH ones went down, nobody made a stink about it (including me) and it’s quite tragic, good to see you all are on the ball.

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