This story can not really be considered Echo Park history as it is still not over. Timothy Fonseca was convicted and is still serving a 35 years to life sentence for murder based on shaky evidence. But I wanted to post something about him, and this seemed like the best way to do it.
On April 23rd, 1995 at about 4:00 am, Arthur Mayer was coming back from a party with his wife, Roxana, when he stopped to buy cigarettes at the Mobil Station on Scott and Glendale. While he was walking back to the car, Mayer was shot and killed. Roxana would later state that the shot was fired by a man standing at the 1900 block of Scott Ave. She identified Fonseca in a police lineup as the shooter. This is pretty much the only evidence the police had with which to convict Fonseca. However, Roxana had identified a different man in an earlier lineup as the shooter and even admitted that he and Fonseca looked very much alike. Also, the 1900 block of Scott Avenue (where the shooter was standing) is about 300 yards away from where Roxana was sitting in the car. That’s a big distance from which to make an identification, especially when it’s dark outside. Her story also changed several times. Details that varied included the number of shooters, where they were standing and what kind of firearms they were brandishing.
Another piece of evidence was the testimony of a young Echo Park gang member who said that on the day of shooting he had seen a gang member named Sniper carrying an AK-47. He later said that “Sniper” was Tim Fonseca. When the case went to trial, the young man recanted everything he had said stating that the police officers had threatened him into making an identification. Furthermore, he did not even witness the crime.
There was never any physical evidence linking Tim Fonseca to the murder. A possible murder weapon (an SKS rifle) was found behind a house on Scott Ave. There were prints on the weapon, but they were not Tim Fonseca’s.
Tim has been in prison for fifteen years and still proclaims his innocence. He says that he was in San Bernardino on the night of the shooting. Tim’s wife, Lynn, is still fighting to free her husband. Ironically, she used to work for the Indio and Palm Springs Police Departments. His case has gained the interest of high-profile legal organizations such as the Innocence Project. In 2008, he was also written about in the AIDWC (Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted) Journal (the article is in the Spring 2008 issue). Check out Tim’s website if you’re interested in learning more.
It was originally spelled with an E and a tilde over the second N. That is the original (Spanish language) spelling of the word. The sign just down the street from me at Sunset and Douglas reads “Angeleno Heights.” Somewhere along the way, some people began to spell it “Angelino”, but no one knows when or why although there are different theories. But the two different spellings do not connote any sort of difference in meaning. That’s just what happens over a period of 120 years.
Angelino Heights (see what I did there?) is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles second only to Bunker Hill. It was founded in 1886 by William W. Stilson and Everett E. Hall when they filed for the creation of a subdivision in this elevated part of Los Angeles. In the same year, the Temple Street Cable Railway was built. It ran from Angeleno Heights to downtown and allowed those living in this newly formed suburb to commute from home to work. This line was later electrified making transportation to and from home even easier for Angeleno Heights’ residents.
The first big building boom occurred when the neighborhood was first created which is where all the Victorian homes come from. Then, beginning in 1888, a banking recession stopped all new construction. Another big wave of construction happened in the early 1900s resulting in Craftsman and California bungalow-style homes. Just after World War II, many older homes were split up into multiple apartments to accommodate more people.
In 1983, Angeleno Heights became Los Angeles’ first historic district. Several homes in the neighborhood are Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments and the entire 1300 block of Carroll Avenue is registered as a United States Historic District (and Michael Jackson’s video for “Thriller” was filmed there).
Unfortunately, I could only find one photo of old Angeleno Heights (see above) in our beloved USC Digital Library. But they do have a huge collection of filled-out census forms from 1939! One just has to search by street name to find them. Check out the census forms for Carroll Avenue, W. Edgeware Road and Calumet Ave. It seems there were a fair number of renters living in Angeleno Heights in the 1930s, and rent could cost anywhere from $25 to a whopping $35 per month.
I sure hope you guys like photo posts, because I can not get enough of the photos of Echo Park in the USC Digital Library. The collection is full of awesome old photos, and I highly suggest you check it out.
Today, we are going to take a little photographic tour of Chavez Ravine and the early years of Dodger Stadium.
The text that goes with this photo reads, “Some day the Los Angeles Dodgers hope to be playing ball where Mrs. Barden Scott is playing with her three children, Richmond, 5; Matthew, 3, and Valerie, 18 months. She figures that when the Dodgers build their fancy new ball park in Chavez Ravine home plate will be just about where her home is. But first the Dodgers will have to buy up her place and a few others scattered through the area. Mrs. Scott is willing to sell, but some other owners aren’t.”
An aerial view of Chavez Ravine just before construction began on Dodgers Stadium.
Photos of Dodgers Stadium being built.
The text that goes with this photo reads: “The Dodgers will plant the first tree in the Chavez Ravine ball-park landscaping on Thursday morning March 9 at 9:30 am. The tree will be an ash — baseball bats are made from ash. Present will be Dick Walsh, Dodger Vice President, a bat boy in a Dodger uniform with a ball bat and Mrs. Carolyn Patterson, Chairman of Plant a Tree Week.” I want to know where this tree is!
A night game at Dodgers Stadium less than two months after it opened on April 10, 1962.
This Saturday, August 28th at 8:00 pm, Stop Motion Magazine will be hosting a stop motion film festival at the Echo Park Film Center. An array of stop motion short films will be shown that feature puppets, clay, sand, cut-outs, toys and legos. Prizes and awards will be handed out by professional stop motion animators. But the grand prize (the coveted “Purple Monkey” Award) will be awarded based on the audience’s decision!
Festival is open to everyone. Cost is $5. The Echo Park Film Center is located at 1200 N. Alvarado Street.
Echo Park might not immediately strike people as an evangelist hot spot, but in the 1920s, it was the home base of fiery female evangelist and radio sensation Aimee Semple McPherson. She is the woman behind the Angelus Temple at the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (that giant, white amphitheater-looking building at the intersection of Park and Glendale).
Aimee was born into a farming family in Ontario, Canada in 1890. It was a religious household, but Aimee came to evangelism of her own accord. She began preaching in 1913, traveling throughout Canada and the United States and holding tent revivals. She became known as a faith healer, and became so popular that her gatherings began to fill to over capacity.
In the late 1910s, Aimee decided to settle in Los Angeles with her mother and her two children. She bought a plot of land next to Echo Park Lake which she described as “heaven on earth.” It was here that she decided to build a church from which she would spread the Foursquare Gospel, the name that she gave to her teachings after experiencing a vision.
While preaching in Oakland in 1922, Aimee had a vision similar to the one in the first chapter of the book of Ezekiel. She saw a cup, a dove, a crown and a cross and believed they symbolized (respectively) healing, baptism, the Savior and the Second Coming. She believed that these four symbols corresponded to everything that was important in society and in one’s own life. She named her teachings, with their focus on these four pillars of life, the Foursquare Gospel.
It took less than two years to build the church (1920 to 1922), and it was dedicated on January 1, 1923. It was built entirely with donations that Aimee collected from her followers which is believed to have amounted to 1.2 million dollars.
Friday, August 20 @ 8:00 pm – KILLER OF SHEEP
Killer of Sheep examines the black Los Angeles ghetto of Watts in the mid-1970s through the eyes of Stan, a sensitive dreamer who is growing detached and numb from the psychic toll of working at a slaughterhouses. It was shot on location in Watts in a series of weekends on a budget of less than $10,000, most of which was grant money. Finished in 1977 and shown sporadically, its reputation grew and grew until it won a prize at the 1981 Berlin International Film Festival. Since then, the Library of Congress has declared it a national treasure as one of the first fifty on the National Film Registry.
Friday, August 27 @ 8:00 pm – INTOLERANCE
For the last event of the 2010 Filmmobile Summer Screening Series, we’re excited to present DW Griffith’s 1916 silent epic. “Professor Theodore Huff, one of the leading film critics of the first half of the twentieth century stated that it was the only motion picture worthy of taking its place alongside Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, the masterpieces of Michelangelo, etc. as a separate work of art.” –Wikipedia. LIVE MUSIC BY DUBLAB.
All screenings are free and open to the public. The locations are secret until a few hours before the screening. You can call (213-484-8846), email (email@example.com) or follow them on Twitter (http://twitter.com/EPFCfilmmobile).