Long live Saint Peter.
Residents gathered Thursday, October 20, at Pepper Tree Place, a 10,000-square-foot mini-park adjacent to the San Pedro Municipal Building, to launch what will be a city “plaza” anchoring the new Little Italy district in the city. Lower Sixth Street. .
For outgoing Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino, who is stepping down after a decade that saw a flurry of development and change in the port community, the Little Italy district had been a long-time wish. The district was passed in 2018 to recognize the role Italian immigrants, including Buscaino’s family, played in the early days of the port area, when commercial fishing drew people from a wide radius.
While the coronavirus pandemic has slowed progress, several Italian businesses and restaurants have already moved into stores in the district.
The district’s centerpiece, Piazza Miramare, which references the view of the sea (the working port of Los Angeles is across the street), was designed by Gensler, an award-winning architectural firm, and will provide a european style in the corner from South Harbor Boulevard and West Sixth Street. A fountain and shade trellis facing the sea will provide an area where people can have coffee or lunch. A terraced seating area, the “Beacon Steps”, will provide more spaces to congregate.
The square will offer cultural and entertainment programs, under the direction of the Little Italy Association of Los Angeles. Construction is expected to take 12 to 18 months. The plan, Buscaino said, will bring new activity and color to what has been underutilized city park space.
“As we know, San Pedro is home to the largest concentrated Italian-American population on the West Coast,” said Buscaino, noting that Los Angeles is known for its ethnic districts, including Chinatown, Olvera Street and Little Ethiopia.
The concept for Little Italy, he said, was also to create a bridge between the historic center of San Pedro and the waterfront that is being developed, and will have its own opening on November 12.
“When you go to Europe, squares are the central point of a city,” said Buscaino, “where we see people of all races and cultures converge.”
Meanwhile, an ornamental urn that has been sitting on the site will be moved to the Wilmington waterfront.
The urn, weighing 6 tons and standing 9 feet tall, was one of four that once stood at the Matson Terminal at Berths 195-198 in Wilmington. She will be reunited with one of his classmates who has stayed in Wilmington.
The other two urns were reported stolen when the thieves used a forklift and tractor to remove the sculptured pieces.