As a Los Angeles native, I prided myself on my knowledge of the history of this city. However, it amazes me how much I have been able to learn about Los Angeles since living on Skid Row. Having developed this loved for history during the last few years, my pursuit of more historical knowledge never ended because I landed on Skid Row. In fact I pursued it even more vigorously as it kept my mind off of my worries and pain.
I started learning about downtown Los Angeles when my father took me to Central Ave. Having developed his passion for photography, he wanted to photos of the Coca Cola battleship with his wide angle camera which he built. It was the last place that he and I went together before he died.
I always felt that the more I learned about Los Angeles, the more I learned about my parents and myself. My father was born here and my mother was raised here having moved to Los Angeles from Northern California.
Of course when I started my triathlon training I read all of the plaques at USC and those plaques provided much in history about Los Angeles, starting with learning the full name of the City of Los Angeles,El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles.
When I arrived in Skid Row I was able to feel the history of Los Angeles like never before. I have always been fascinated by old buildings so I was able to appreciate the architecture of yesteryears and learn more about the development of this city and the people that helped build it. It is funny how good things can come from excruciating experiences. It guess it is a matter of getting through them to a certain point so we can experience them.
One day I was trying to find a short cut to Broadway from Spring street and found a walkway that extended from street to street just north of the Wells Fargo branch between 3rd and 4th on Spring Street. In the middle of the walkway I ran into this Historical monument.
It was about Biddie Mason who was a slave from Georgia. She came to California and won her freedom. She become a very successful real estate entrpreneur and philanthropist and could be arguably one of the first advocates of the homeless here in Los Angeles. She also was one of the founders of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the oldest predominantly black attended churches in the city of Los Angeles. I never heard of her before living on Skid Row. I found that amazing.
I can not do Biddie Mason justice but I encourage you to see the write up about her that Wikipedia did. Please click on her name,Biddie Mason, here and read the Wikipedia write up about her.