(Originally posted on 4/15/2009)
At half a mile long (.8 kilometers), "The Great Wall of California" in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley is the longest mural in the world. Artist Judith Baca created the mural with over 400 local teenagers during the summers between 1976 and 1984. The mural is located along the West wall of the Tunjunga Flood Control Channel and its acrylic paint is resistant to water damage. The mural depicts the history of Los Angeles and California from pre-historic times to the 1980s with a focus on women, minorities, laborers, artists, and everyday people.
A view of the first section of the mural in the flood control channel:
Here is a detail of the mural depicting the 1781 founding of Los Angeles in the Alta California region of Nueva Espana. The mural shows that the founding settlors were primarily of mixed Spanish, African, and Native American descent:
A detail of the mural depicting a wedding at a hacienda during Mexican rule of California, which lasted between Mexico's independence from Spain in 1821 until the Mexican-American War of the 1840s:
Many Chinese immigrants who came to California during the 1850s Gold Rush ended up working as laborers on the California railroads:
A detail of the mural depicting depression-era workers:
In the 1930s, thousands of migrants fled to California to escape from severe droughts and economic hardship in Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, and the Texas Panhandle:
A detail of the mural depicting the forced relocation and internment of over 100,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans during WWII:
Los Angeles has the second largest Jewish population of any metropolitan region in the United States. Here is a detail of the mural depicting a Jewish family during WWII:
During the Zoot Suits Riots of 1943, white Marines, with the tacit approval of the Los Angeles Police Department, targeted and assaulted young Mexican-American men in Los Angeles:
The beginnings of suburban sprawl and "white flight" out of the urban core of the city:
A detail of the mural depicting the 1950s-era blacklisting of entertainment industry professionals who were suspected of being affiliated with the Communist Party:
The beginnings of the African-American Civil Rights Movement:
The Mattachine Society, founded in Los Angeles in 1950, was one of the first gay rights organization in the United States:
Another view of the mural along the channel's West wall:
These pictures show only a small fraction of the mural. The website of Venice Beach based Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) has pictures of all of the mural's panels, a more detailed history of the mural, and information about current efforts to restore and preserve the mural.
The Great Wall is located along Coldwater Canyon Avenue between Burbank Boulevard and Oxnard Street. There is a walkway along the East side of the channel on Coldwater Canyon Ave. that runs the whole length of the mural.
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