Exposition Park Rose Garden

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Exposition Park Rose Garden
Exposition Park Rose Garden, Los Angeles.JPG
Exposition Park Rose Garden, 2008
Exposition Park Rose Garden is located in Los Angeles
Exposition Park Rose Garden
LocationExposition Park, jct. of Exposition Boulevard and Vermont Avenue, , California
CoordinatesCoordinates: 34°01′01″N 118°17′10″W / 34.017°N 118.286°W / 34.017; -118.286
NRHP reference #91000285[1]
Added to NRHPMarch 28, 2019

The Exposition Park Rose Garden is a historic 7-acre (28,000 m2) sunken garden located in Exposition Park in Los Angeles, California. It has been called "one of the city's best-kept secrets",[2] it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

Establishment of the rose garden[edit]

From 1871 to 1911, the site of the rose garden was part of the city's Agricultural Park; the rose garden area was then used for horse, camel, dog, and later automobile racing; it also reportedly housed the city's longest bar and "one of its most stylish brothels."[3] In 1914, the city announced plans to construct a wildflower garden at the park,[4] but the rose garden was not built until 1927 with the planting of 15,000 bushes of more than 100 varieties;[5][6] when the garden was announced, the Los Angeles Times applauded the project: "No more fitting tribute could be paid to the spirit of Southern California than to erect in the center of her largest city the greatest rose garden in the world."[7] During the Great Depression, the lack of funding threatened the closure of the rose garden, then described as "the largest rose garden in the world."[8]

Boldsen statues[edit]

In 1936, four large marble statues by Danish sculptor Thyra Boldsen were installed on pedestals at the four corners of the garden; the statues were titled "Nymph Finding Pipes of Pan," "The Blessing" (dedicated to the mothers of the world), "The Start" (awarded first prize by the Danish Academy of Fine Arts), and "Terpsichore" (or "Melody of Life").[9] The sculptor explained her intent with the statues this way: "In conceiving and executing these four figures dedicated to womanhood and motherhood, I have had in mind that men for centuries have erected statues symbolizing bravery—these symbolize love, life and joy."[10]

Popularity of the Rose Garden[edit]

Rose garden in May 2008

In the 1950s, the annual pruning demonstration drew thousands of rose enthusiasts to the park.[11][12][13] By the mid-1980s, the garden had more than 20,000 rose bushes and more than 200 varieties of roses;[14][15] the All-America Rose Selection, a rose growers organization, began donating its Rose of the Year to the garden in 1940.[15] The garden is reportedly visited by more than a million people a year and is a popular location for weddings, reflection, and other events;[16] the garden also has four gazebos, several statues, and a central fountain. The garden is located adjacent to the University of Southern California campus, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and the California Science Center.

Threat to the Rose Garden and historic designation[edit]

In 1986, plans to dig up the garden to build an underground parking garage led to protests in the media;[15][17] the Los Angeles Times ran an editorial opposing the plan: "There are times when the leaders of Los Angeles seem perversely intent on living up to the image that many outsiders have of them—insensitive and uncouth rabbits who would, say, dig up a garden to put in a parking lot."[18] The garden had also been threatened by an earlier proposal by the Los Angeles Raiders football team to convert the garden into a practice field for the team.[16] In order to protect the garden from such threats, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

Film and television[edit]

The exterior of the Old Armory Building, abutting the eastern edge of the Rose Garden, is used in establishing shots of the fictional Jeffersonian Institute, in the TV series Bones.

The garden can also be seen at the end of the Barbra Streisand film On a Clear Day You Can See Forever .

Jane Fonda and Don Johnson characters, in the 2018 film, Book Club frolic in the rose garden fountain during a date scene.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. April 15, 2008.
  2. ^ Laurie K. Schenden (2001-04-19). "Family; The Bloom Is On; Exposition Park festival promises you a rose garden and a chance to rediscover a beautiful L.A. oasis". Los Angeles Times.
  3. ^ Cecilia Rasmussen (1995-01-09). "Turning an Odor of Sin Into the Smell of Roses". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ "Highways to Be Lanes for Roses: Supervisors Accept Bids for Wire Trellises; Seventy-five Miles of Climbers to Be Planted; Wildflower Garden Planned for Exposition Park". Los Angeles Times. 1914-05-24.
  5. ^ "Thousands of Roses Thrive in Sunken Garden". Los Angeles Times. 1927-03-27.
  6. ^ "Plan Finest Rose Garden: Planting in Exposition Park to Begin July 1; Electric Color Fountain to Be Part of Display; Thousands of Bushes Ready for Great Project". Los Angeles Times. 1926-05-10.
  7. ^ "Rose Garden". Los Angeles Times. 1926-05-15.
  8. ^ "Lack of Funds Perils Roses: City Park Department Asks County for $7500 to Save Exposition Gardens". Los Angeles Times. 1933-09-18.
  9. ^ "Statues to Be Unveiled: Works of Danish Sculptor Will Be Dedicated in Park Tuesday". Los Angeles Times. 1936-02-17.
  10. ^ "Marble Statues Accepted at Exposition Park Rites". Los Angeles Times. 1936-02-19.
  11. ^ "Rose Pruning at Park Draws 2500 Growers; Demonstrations by Experts Also Include Planting, Maintenance and Control of Pests". Los Angeles Times. 1952-01-06.
  12. ^ "3000 Rose Fanciers at Pruning Demonstration; Expert Growers Offer Advice on Culture; Cuttings Distributed by Park Department". Los Angeles Times. 1954-01-10.
  13. ^ "3000 See Annual Rose Pruning Demonstration; Gardens at Exposition Park Display 15,000 Bushes, 155 Different Varieties". Los Angeles Times. 1958-01-05.
  14. ^ Joan Drake (1987-04-30). "10 Places to Stop and Smell the Roses". Los Angeles Times.
  15. ^ a b c "Gloom in the Rose Garden Parking Garage Planned Under Exposition Park". Los Angeles Times. 1986-11-07.
  16. ^ a b Edward J. Boyer (1986-11-20). "Parking Facility to Go Elsewhere: Rose Garden Will Be Spared". Los Angeles Times.
  17. ^ "Uprooting Exposition Park's Rose Garden (numerous letters to the editor)". Los Angeles Times. 1986-11-15.
  18. ^ "To Kill a Rose Garden". Los Angeles Times. 1986-11-10.

External links[edit]