Common Ground: the Histories of the Ambassador Hotel’s Neighborhood
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The Studio for Southern California History (Studio) is pleased to announce a new community history project: Common Ground: the Histories of the Ambassador Hotel’s Neighborhood. In collaboration with the University of Southern California, American Studies 200 with Dr. Emily Hobson; the Honors College at California State University Los Angeles with Dr. Michelle Hawley; and the New Open World Academy with Felicia Perez and Dr. Chuck Flores—one of the schools at the former Ambassador Hotel site- the Studio is organizing a series of activities designed to gather and share stories connected with the former Ambassador Hotel and its neighborhood including a five-block radius with Hobart on the West, Olympic to the South, Shatto to the East and 2nd Street to the North— all sections of the 90005 zip code and sometimes known as ‘Wilshire Center.’
Common Ground hopes to illustrate vast change over time in Los Angeles that is often known for one place—the Ambassador Hotel—by highlighting its neighborhood social history. For many people the Ambassador was an icon of the city, from its opening in 1921 until its demolition in 2006 to make way for the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools Complex. For over twenty-five years, many people battled to save the hotel, to preserve the personal memories it represented. But less attention has been paid to a different kind of icon and monument to memories of Los Angeles: the community surrounding the site of the Ambassador. The personal histories associated with the Ambassador Hotel itself created a barrage of distress letters and preservation efforts to save it over the last twenty-five years.
The histories gathered through this project will provide one microcosm of Los Angeles urban history--from serving as barley fields in the late 19th century, to now representing one of the most diverse and densely populated sections of Los Angeles. While the Ambassador Hotel may rightfully hold a place in historical memory for various political and cultural events, the history of its neighborhood provides an even more pluralistic vision of Los Angeles’ history.
The Studio invites those interested in sharing their histories of the neighborhood and of the Ambassador Hotel in two ways. The public is invited to call the Studio for Southern California History at 213-229-8890 if they are interested in scheduling an interview.