The oldest section of the city, known as El Pueblo de Los Angeles, represents the rich Mexican heritage of L.A. It had a close shave with disintegration in the early 20th century, but key buildings were preserved, and eventually Olvera Street, the district's heart, was transformed into a Mexican-American marketplace. Today vendors still sell puppets, leather goods, sandals, and woolen shawls from stalls lining the narrow street. You can find everything from donkey-shape salt and pepper shakers to gorgeous glassware and pottery.
At the beginning of Olvera Street is the Plaza, a Mexican-style park with plenty of benches and walkways shaded by a huge Moreton Bay fig tree. On weekends, mariachi bands and folkloric dance groups perform. Nearby places worth investigating include the historic Avila Adobe, the Chinese American Museum, Plaza the Firehouse Museum, and the America Tropical Interpretive Center. Exhibits at the Italian American Museum of Los Angeles, which debuted in
2015, chronicle the area's formerly heavy Italian presence.
Two major annual events, the Blessing of the Animals and Las Posadas, take place at El Pueblo. On the Saturday before Easter, Angelenos bring their pets—not just dogs and cats, but also horses, pigs, cows, birds, hamsters—to be blessed by a priest. For Las Posadas, every night between December 16th and 24th merchants and visitors parade up and down the street, led by children dressed as angels, to commemorate Mary and Joseph's search for shelter on Christmas Eve.