Established in 1877, Evergreen Memorial Park and Crematory is Los Angeles’ oldest cemetery. Tucked away in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East L.A., this 67-acre park is the final resting place for many of Los Angeles’ past mayors, prominent citizens, and pioneers.
In addition, Los Angeles’ ethnic roots can be traced here: Evergreen is one of the city’s only cemeteries never to have banned African-Americans from being buried there. There’s also a huge area dedicated to Chinese-Americans, dating back to California’s gold rush when Chinese immigrants came to the region in large numbers. Armenians, Serbs, and other ethnic groups have their own areas as well, with inscriptions in their own scripts.
A few other interesting, historical, and downright weird facts about the park:
There’s a beautiful monument located in the center of the park honoring the soldiers of Japanese descent who fought for the 442nd Infantry Regimental Combat Unit in WWII. The monument was dedicated in 1949, but in 2010 President Obama honored this unit by bestowing upon them the Congressional Medal of Honor.
There are several graves that date back to the 1830s scattered throughout the park. When the cemetery was established in 1877, some families moved the bodies of their loved ones from their backyards and had them reburied here.
Over 300,000 persons are buried here and of that number, over 400 are departed carnival workers or “carnies.” In 1922, the Pacific Coast Showman’s Association was established to assist carnival workers, including finding burial spots for them. Among the carnies buried in Evergreen are Emily Bailey, known as the 300-pound fat lady, and Hugo Zacchini, the first human cannonball.
Know Before You Go
Located in East Los Angeles, the cemetery can be accessed by taking Interstate 10 or 5, depending on your location.