MacArthur Park, originally called Westlake Park, was laid out in the 1880s. It occupies 32 acres. Wilshire boulevard formerly went around MacArthur Park, but by 1934 it sliced right through the middle of the park. In the mid-1800s the area was a swampland; by the 1890s, it was a vacation destination, surrounded by wealthy hotels. In the early part of the 20th century, the MacArthur park area became known as the Champs Elysees of Los Angeles. Lafayette Park to the west was donated to the city in 1899 and has 11 acres.MacArthur Park:
"The [MacArthur] park was designed in 1890, with the aid of a group of citizens organized by Mayor Workman, in a former low-lying swamp having little commercial value at the time. It is probably one of the better California examples of the influence of the Olmsted Brothers on the urban park concept typical of the period. For a considerable time, the park served as the western terminus of Wilshire Boulevard and was originally called Westlake Park....After some heated controversy in the late twenties, Wilshire Boulevard was constructed through the park as a gently curving arc on a raised roadway. Tunnels near the eastern and western boundaries connect the two portions. The lake was reduced in size and a boathouse built. Prior to the commercial period of the forties, this area was one of the most fashionable residential districts of Los Angeles....The name was changed to General Douglas MacArthur Park at the conclusion of World War II." (Byerts, Thomas Oakley. Design of the Urban Park Environment as an Influence on the Behavior and Social Interaction of the Elderly. Masters thesis, University of Southern California, 1970, pp. 47-48.)
- Flanagan, Barbara. "The Battle of MacArthur Park," ArtNews (March 1985): 105-106.
- Hjelte, George. Footprints in the Parks. Los Angeles, CA: Public Service Publications, 1977.
- Nodal, Adolfo V. How the Arts Made a Difference: The MacArthur Park Public art Program. Los Angeles: Hennessey+Ingalls, 1989.
- Reed, Merrill A. Historical Statues & Monuments in California. San Francisco: self published, 1956.
- Stein, Acha Benzinberg, ed. Parks and Gardens of the Greater Los Angeles Region. USC: Architectural Guild Press, 1996.