Great Wall of Los Angeles (Mural)

People walking along the Great Wall of LA
On a walk to see The Great Wall of Los Angeles.

Photo by Kent Kanouse (CC BY-NC 2.0; https://www.flickr.com/photos/kkanouse/8317127514/).

Quick Facts

Location:
Los Angeles, CA
Designation:
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places on September 18, 2017, reference number: MP100001602
OPEN TO PUBLIC:
Yes

The Great Wall of Los Angeles (also known as The History of California) is a half-mile long mural depicting the history of California through images of significant figures and historic events from diverse and traditionally marginalized communities. The mural is painted on the west wall of the Tujunga Flood Control Channel in the North Hollywood area of the City of Los Angeles, California. The Great Wall of Los Angeles was completed between 1974 and 1984 by teams of young people and artist supervisors. Chicana muralist Judith F. Baca, working with the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), was primarily responsible for the artistic vision and subject matter depicted in the mural. The flood control channel was built by the Army Corps of Engineers, and is owned and maintained by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. Baca and SPARC created the mural and own the copyright to it.

The Great Wall of Los Angeles is one of the largest murals in the world, 13.5 feet high and 2,754 feet long, stretching over half a mile. The west wall of the channel functions as a canvas for the mural. The Great Wall of Los Angeles is located in a section of the Tujunga Flood Control Channel bounded by Oxnard Street to the north, Coldwater Canyon Boulevard to the east, Burbank Boulevard to the south, and the Coldwater Canyon Extension road (sometimes called Lancer Lane) and a parking lot to the west. The mural is arranged in connected chronological segments depicting eras of California’s history from prehistoric times through the 1960s. The scenes emphasize the role played by Native Americans, Latinos (focusing on those with Mexican heritage, sometimes self-identified as Chicano/a), African Americans, Asian Americans, and Jewish Americans in creating California’s culture. The Great Wall imagery highlights themes such as immigration, exploitation of people and land, women’s rights, class distinctions, racism and racial equality, and the struggle for gay and lesbian rights. The artistic style of the mural reflects the Chicano/a mural movement of the 1970s, using colors, steep rescinding perspective, and symbols influenced by indigenous Mesoamerican art, traditional European figurative art, the Works Progress Administration, and Mexican muralists of the 1930s.

The Great Wall of Los Angeles is arranged in panels with compositions that blend into each other, comprising six sections with 86 titled segments. Sections are usually organized by decade. Segments within each decade-specific section depict discrete historical events or important figures from the decade. The composition of the earliest sections from 1976 was supervised by multiple artists. Later sections, completed between 1978 and 1984, have stronger visual coherence and were under the design supervision of a single artist, Judith F. Baca. Segments are listed with titles as they appear on the mural. The mural was painted during summers between 1974 and 1984. No painting took place in the summers of 1979 and 1982.

Links in the list below will take you to related NPS pages.

Section 1, completed in 1976, comprises 35 segments. Segments were designed by multiple artists as specified, working with youth design teams.
1. Pre-Historic California: 20,000 BC (designed by Kristi Lucas)
2.
The La Brea Tar Pits (designed by Kristi Lucas)
3.
Chumash Village 1,000 AD (designed by Christina Schlesinger)
4. Indigenous Plants (designed by Kristi Lucas)

5. Chumash Animal Spirits (designed by Christina Schlesinger)
6.
Portolá Expedition 1769 (designed by Judith F. Baca)
7. Legend of Califa (designed by Judith F. Baca)

8. Indigenous Perspective (designed by Judith F. Baca)
9.
Junipero Serra (designed by Judith F. Baca)
10.
Founders of Los Angeles 1781/ Mulatto & Metizo Descent (designed by Judith F. Baca)
11.
Mexican Rule 1822 (designed by Judith Hernandez)
12.
Missions (designed by Judith Hernandez)
13.
Californios (designed by Judith Hernandez)
14. Mexican Hacienda (designed by Judith Hernandez)
15.
Mexican-American War (designed by Judith Hernandez)
16.
Sutter’s Mill (designed by Ulysses Jenkins)
17. Mifflin W. Gibbs (designed by Ulysses Jenkins)
18.
Mary Ellen Pleasant (designed by Ulysses Jenkins)
19.
William A. Leidesdorf (designed by Ulysses Jenkins)
20.
California Gold Rush (designed by Ulysses Jenkins)
21.
Biddy Mason/AME Church (designed by Ulysses Jenkins)
22. Joaquin Murrieta (designed by Ulysses Jenkins)

23. Sojourners 1868 (designed by Gary Takamoto)
24.
Chinese Build the Railroad (designed by Gary Takamoto)
25.
Chinese Massacre 1871 (designed by Gary Takamoto)
26. Frontier California 1880 (designed by Arnold Ramirez)
27.
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo 1848 (designed by Arnold Ramirez)
28. California Citrus Industry (designed by Arnold Ramirez)
29.
Suffragettes (designed by Olga Muniz)
30. LA Mountains to the Shore 1890 (designed by Olga Muniz)

31. Red Car (designed by Olga Muniz)
32. Youth Team at L.A. Harbor (designed by Charlie Brown and youth painting team)
33. San Pedro Harbor 1900 (designed by Charlie Brown)
34. Migrant California (designed by Isabel Castro)
35.
World War I (designed by Isabel Castro)

Section 2, completed in 1978, comprises six segments. All segments were designed by Judith F. Baca with the support of SPARC design teams.
36.
WWI Doughboys
37. Women in the War Industry
38. Charlie Chaplin
39.
Thomas Alva Edison
40. The Great Train Robbery
41. William S. Hart

Section 3, completed in 1980, comprises 12 segments. All segments were designed by Judith F. Baca with the support of SPARC design teams.
42. Illusion of Prosperity
43.
Prohibition
44. Dunbar Hotel
45.
Market Crash
46. Child Labor
47.
Great Depression
48. Labor Strikes
49. Long Beach Earthquake 1933
50. Unsigned Indian Treaties
51. 500,000 Mexican Americans Deported
52.
Dustbowl Refugees
53. Japanese Internment – Manzanar

Section 4, completed in 1981, comprises 14 segments. All segments were designed by Judith F. Baca with the support of SPARC design teams.
54.
442nd Infantry Division
55. Jewish Americans
56. California Aqueduct
57. Jeanette Rankin
58.
World War II
59. Rose the Riveter
60. Dr. Charles Drew
61. Mrs. Laws
62. David Gonzales: Pacoima, CA
63.
Zoot Suit Riots/ L.A. 1943
64. Luisa Moreno
65. Bracero Program
66. Jewish Refugees
67. Baby Boom

Section 5, completed in 1983, comprises 18 segments. All segments were designed by Judith F. Baca with the support of Matt Weurker, Jan Cook, and additional SPARC design team members.
68. Farewell to Rosie the Riveter
69.
Development of Suburbia
70. The Red Scare & McCarthyism
71. Division of the Barrios & Chavez Ravine
72.
The Birth of Rock & Roll
73. Big Mama Thornton
74.
Forebears of Civil Rights
75. Gay Rights
76. Daughters of Bilitis
77. Mattachine Society
78. Ginsberg & The Beats
79. Jewish Arts & Sciences
80.
Indian Assimilation
81. Asians Gain Citizenship & Property
82. Vicki Manalo Draves
83. Sammy Lee
84. Wilma Rudolf
85. Billy Mills

Section 6, completed in 1984, comprises one segment and a panel describing the project.
86. Olympic Champions: Breaking Barriers 1964-1984