Wonders in Concrete

by Pasadena Adjacent

all links provide past/present park images and addresses (please visit)

Laguna de San Gabriel Playground was the site of my seventh birthday party and the concrete opus of 70 year old Mexican born Benjamin Dominguez 1894-74; Concrete visionary and graduate of Uof M La Academia de Artes Plasticas. This particular “Folly”, located within Vincent Lugo Park (formally Well’s Park) opened to the public May 16 1965. What makes this park, as well asAtlantis Parkin Garden Grove truly unique is that Dominguez integrated animal forms into a created landscape as part of the larger design. Take note of the tree plantings on the concrete mound (no longer here) yet they’re full grown there.

Big Gulp, originally uploaded by Access Palm 2009.

I grew up around Senor Dominguez’ creations.Legg Lake; another local park supporting his earlier free standing fish and fantasy forms was the site of many large family gatherings of my relatives in the “Montes, haCiendas, Puentes and Whitiers.”

We almost lost our treasured Laguna de San Gabriel a few years back when a “master plan” was developed to rid the Gabriels of the “feral” monsters in favor of a socker field. For once people got smart and stopped this possible travisty of artistry through the formation of  the Friends of Laguna association.Las Vegas did not show the same intelligence. Benjamins son’s were able to salvage one piece before bulldozers plowed the works under in the middle of the night (a familiar civic tragedy strategy).

In 2009, Friends of La Laguna was awarded both the Los Angeles Conservancy’s Advocacy Award and a California Preservation Foundation President’s Award. In the land of teardowns and McMansions, this is a groundbreaking achievement. Los Angeles and “Friends”can take credit for creating the framework that has led to the protection of post WWII playgrounds everywhere. Isn’t that cool? not so with the links below; they’re hot

Laguna de San Gabriel.

Legg Lake .

Atlantis .

Las Vegas (destroyed).