Sea Monsters in San Gabriel!

Sea Monster Slides!

There are few things that I love more than a giant cement sea monster (those few things include giant cement dinosaurs, giant plaster donuts, and that’s about it).  And that is why I made the pilgrimage to San Gabriel this weekend, to Vincent Lugo Park, home of La Laguna de San Gabriel, better known as the Monster Park.  Metblogs covered the Monster Park a few years ago, when it was at risk of demolition, but it’s still standing, in no small part due to the fantastic work of the Friends of La Laguna, who were recently recognized by the LA Conservancy for their preservation efforts.  And god bless the Friends of La Laguna, because this place is basically amazing, and every child deserves the chance to play on a giant cement octopus.  The Monster Park is such a wonderful place – it’s such a departure from the sterile, unimaginative playground designs that you see everywhere.  I think that everyone should do themselves a favor and find a small child to take to La Laguna (please ask the small child’s parents for permission first).

Opening Day in 1965 - Courtesy of Friends of La Laguna

I also love this park because of its wacky, mid-century aesthetic.  The colors, the curving lines of the statues, and the unselfconscious whimiscalness remind me of the kind of mid-to-late-sixties animation you’d see in psychedelic movies like Yellow Submarine.  The park is the work of Mexican-American artist Benjamin Dominguez, who built several parks in and around California in the 1950s and 1960s.  The Monster Park is his last work, completed as he was turning 70, and I think that it stands as a testament that public art can be beautiful, and fun, and interactive.  And really, really awesome.

7 Replies to “Sea Monsters in San Gabriel!”

  1. There’s another “Monster Park” in Garden Grove called Atlantis Play Center with a similar sea monster/dragon slide. I swear I get the best comments and play memories about parks like these on my playground blog. I’m so glad this one was saved. It seems many of us adults have fond memories of playgrounds we want to share with our kids. This one looks like it’s worth the visit.

  2. This blog warmed my heart! We are celebrating with the La Conservancy at La Laguna on May 1st….you can check out either organization’s website for details…but it should be a fun day to play!

    In addition to Atlantis, Benjamin Dominguez also created sculptures at Legg Lake in the Whittier Narrows…take a bike, a picnic, and spend a wonderful day playing on some of his oldest creations!

    Thanks for following the playground!

  3. I can tell that photo above was taken in the past week. Some clever and caring fellow spent several hours cleaning and painting over graffiti there a couple of weeks ago so his daughter could have a kick-ass pirate birthday party.

    Just wish the city of San Gabriel cared as much about that place as conservationist do.

    (BTW, the party was pretty kick-ass!)

  4. Lucinda, I had the exact same thought! I wish it was more central, though.

    I really want to check out some of the other playgrounds this artist has done – I smell some roadtrips in the future. And I’ll have to make it back to La Laguna for the picnic in May!

    Also, I am jealous that nobody ever held a kick-ass pirate party for me because that sounds so awesome.

  5. I bet there must be others somewhere more convenient to a majority of our donut locations…hmmm…I wonder if someone in the parks dept knows, or maybe the city nerd will come out of hiding & help us!

  6. just wanted to say there is something similar to this in Winchester, VA called Dinosaur Land…been there since the 60’s I think. There is a gift shop that sells all sorts of cool gemstones and rocks, etc. The dinosaurs are H U G E!!!

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