Even a $10 million restoration couldn't bring America Tropical back to life — not completely. The 80-foot-long mural painted at Olvera Street by legendary Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siquieros is smeary and pale, a ghost of the past in burnt browns and moss greens. But we are lucky to have it at all: The painting was whitewashed by shocked officials shortly after its 1932 creation. They had expected a joyous, carefree “tropical America,” but Siquieros delivered the incendiary image of an indigenous Mexican worker lashed to a double cross beneath a fierce eagle. A mural observation deck opened a year ago along with the America Tropical Interpretive Center, a two-room museum dedicated to the piece's controversy and legacy. The mural's colors may have faded, but history is well illuminated. 125 Paseo de la Plaza, dwntwn., 90012. (213) 485-6855, americatropical.org. —Daina Beth Solomon
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