Los Angeles may sit next to an ocean, but it’s also chock-full of big-city lakes, from the sprawling one at MacArthur Park — cruelly bisected by Wilshire Boulevard in the 1920s — to ?Wilmington’s Machado Lake, which hit the big time once an alligator climbed in and started thrilling the natives. But there’s one urban lake where you can fit in a little shopping without even leaving the park — Lincoln Park, known a century ago as Eastlake, and called East Los Angeles Park for a few decades before that.
With all those names, Lincoln Park has numerous historic connotations. It features busts of the 16th-century Aztec emperor Cuauhtémoc and the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. It has a street named for Colonel William Selig, the silent-film producer from the early 1900s who once operated a zoo right next to the lake. And for more than a decade, the lake has had La Tiendita, a gift shop by Plaza de la Raza, an arts organization that provides classes on the visual and performing arts for kids.
Operated by store manager Rosalie Portillo, the brightly colored La Tiendita has handbags ?from Guatemala, papel picado by the artist Olga Ponce Furginson and a stately altar for Día de ?los Muertos. The store features straw flowers, beadwork necklaces and post cards showing a wide range of images.
Post cards, in fact, are quite the find at La Tiendita, bearing images of not just the usual suspects — Frida Kahlo and the Virgen de Guadalupe spring to mind — but also the pastels of East Los Angeles artist Leo Limón and streetscapes captured by the painter Roberto Gutiérrez. You could be task oriented and write your post cards while waiting in line at the DMV across the street. Or you could walk a few paces to the water’s edge, find a bench and write home to a few friends.
La Tiendita 3540 N. Mission Rd., L.A., by appointment at (323) 223-2475