Shrinking National Register Site
Historic site under attack.
On June 27 1979 The Upper
Reservation of Fort MacArthur was deeded to the City of Los
Angeles. An eleven section agreement and understanding was
incorporated into the deed. One of the important provisions
of the deed is that the City of Los Angeles was to submit a
detailed Master Plan for the development and use of the land
within two years of the deed. The City of Los Angeles also
agreed to preserve, protect and maintain the historical
integrity of the Osgood-Farley Battery, a property listed on
the National Register of Historic Places.
As of today, the City of Los Angeles has failed to comply
with either of these provisions of the deed. The Department
seems to have confused the environmental review process with
the master plan process. The sole document "proving" the
existence of a "Master Plan" is a map that was incorporated
in the 1990 Negative Declaration prepared for Phase II of
Angel's Gate Park. A map that fails to indicate that there
is a 20 acre National Register Site in the park! In 1995,
Department planners were still unaware that there was a
National Register Site in the park.
The Fort MacArthur Museum Association nominated Battery
Osgood-Farley for the list of Historic Cultural Monuments.
The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission designated
Battery Osgood-Farley as site No. 515 in 1991. In spite of
the provisions of the deed and federal and local historic
landmark designations, Battery Osgood-Farley remains under
The Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission approved a
Korean War Memorial directly in front of Battery
Osgood-Farley, amazingly, within the boundaries of Site No.
515, and the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation
and Parks built the 1.5 million dollar Joan Milke Flores
Park within the boundaries of the National Register Site
without any proper review by the State Historic Preservation
Office or the National Park Service.
Every two years the City of Los Angeles reports on their
"progress" in Angel's Gate Park to the National Park Service
in San Francisco. For years the Park Service has been aware
that there is no Master Plan for the park. Some of the
City's reports to the Park Service contain reports of
developments never completed.
In 1995, staff of the local Councilman's office were made
aware of the serious problems in Angel's Gate Park. The
Councilman's office responded by transferring certain
Department of Recreation and Parks staff from Angel's Gate
Park, creating the position of Historic Site Curator for the
Osgood-Farley Historic Site, and calling for resumes for a
new committee to create a Master Plan for the park. As of
this date, the committee only exists on paper and has never
actually had a formal meeting. The city remains in violation
of the provisions of the deed.
As of February, 1998, Phil Orland, Director of Angel's Gate
Park is again talking about bulldozing historic buildings on
the old Upper Reservation of Fort MacArthur. The Los Angeles
City Department of Parks and Recreation seems to have little
understanding or appreciation of Federal and State
historical preservation laws and the proper procedures for
dealing with historic properties. It appears that the
Department of Recreation and Parks in the largest city in
California has no staff with any formal training in historic
The establishment of a real Master Plan for Angels Gate Park
would be an important first step in protecting the many
historical assets of the Harbor Defenses of Los Angeles from
the Department of Recreation and Parks unceasing attacks. A
Master Plan could incorporate a historic district that would
bring together together all of the existing sites relating
to the Harbor Defenses of Los Angeles. This project requires
skills in research, photography, and writing. There are
approximately100 buildings on the Upper Reservation to
document. This project may require a grant to hire a company
that specializes in this kind of work.
This is a high priority project for the association, as the
elements of the Harbor Defenses of Los Angeles are being
destroyed at an alarming rate.