Have you ever noticed the Sunset Boulevard sidewalk plaques in Echo Park?
I first noticed them a few years back when I was meeting friends at Barragans on Sunset boulevard on a Sunday before the Dodger game.
The plaques are all sports related. I took pictures back then but never used them in a blog post. I asked several people at the stadium, and other people like Terry Cannon but no one could tell me anything about them.
When did they started appearing? Who put them there?
There are not all baseball. Here is Elgin Baylor’s plaque
Others are Boxer Jimmy McLarmin, Rafer Johnson, Jack Kramer, Bob Seager, John Longden, Bill Shoemaker, Glen Davis, Ellsworth Vines, Joe Louis, Parry O’Brien,Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Billy Jean King, and many others.
But who put this together?
Then I found this plaque
L Andrew Castle? A photographer!
Talking with my friend Lorena about the sidewalk plaques, she found this article from the LA Timeson October 10, 1985: http://articles.latimes.com/1985-10-10/news/gl-15921_1_echo-park
From the article:
Castle happened to be the owner of both a small camera shop and a big dream.
His dream was to improve the struggling commercial center of Echo Park along Sunset Boulevard, maybe even transform it into a tourist attraction. With Dodger Stadium just a 10-minute walk up the hill, what better way to do that, he thought, than to shine some reflected glory of sports heroes down on the relatively unglamorous street of shoe stores, banks, bakeries and restaurants?
So, at Castle’s urging, the City of Los Angeles in 1974 declared the 10 blocks of Sunset Boulevard between Elysian Park Boulevard and Alvarado Street to be the Avenue of the Athletes, allowing sidewalks to be dotted with tablets bearing the names of superstar jocks. Castle himself hardly fit that image: At the time, he was a short, slow-moving, elderly man.
Castle worked at Dodger Stadium!
Castle, who also worked as a photographer for the Dodgers, got the team and other local merchants to back the project financially. The first plaques were laid in concrete in 1976 during what was supposed to be an annual ceremony.
But Castle died two years later and the Avenue almost died with him. The ceremonies stopped and the designs for the plaques were even lost for a while. It was not until 1980 that the Echo Park Chamber of Commerce was able to revive the project, which even its biggest boosters concede has yet to fulfill Castle’s dream.
Fred Claire is quoted in the article :
“The most important thing is whether you are really going to try to improve the area,” said Fred Claire, executive vice president of the Dodgers and a member of the plaque committee. “Andy Castle dreamed that it could be clean, that it could be free of crime. What the reality is, I don’t know for sure. But his dream lives on.”
Castle gets his plaque:
To symbolize that, a plaque bearing Castle’s name was laid in concrete last week in front of the store he used to own at Logan Street and Sunset, Castle’s shows a camera.