Bust of José de San Martin

Bust of Jose de San Martin — Los Angeles Explorers Guild

Bust of José de San Martin

In the middle of a traffic island along a hectic street just outside of Beverly Hills, you can find a tribute to the father of Chile, Peru, and Argentina.

José de San Martín: Father of the Nation

In Los Angeles, right at the southeastern border into Beverly Hills, if you’re paying attention you’ll encounter an unusual monument honoring José de San Martin, the liberator of Argentina, Chile, and Peru.

Al Padre de la Patria: José de San Martin. Photo from the author’s collection.

The monument consists of a tall stone tablet that displays a bronze bust of General de San Martin on one side and a map of South America with the countries of Argentia, Chile, and Peru highlighted.

The legacy of José de San Martin. Photo from the author’s collection.

Who was Don José de San Martin?

José Francisco de San Martín y Matorras was as general from Argentina and principal leader of the armies in the battle for independence against the Spanish Empire in the early 1800s. He’s known as the Liberator of Argentina, Chile, and Peru and was the first Protector of Peru — an office that’s still in existence today.

José de San Martin is most famous for crossing the Andes into Chile to engage — and defeat — Rafael Maroto at Chacabuco and crushing the Spanish forces at Maipú (alongside Chilean Liberator Bernardo O’Higgins), effectively ending Spanish rule over Chile.


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Al Padre de la Patria

While we know quite a bit about José de San Martin, very little is known about this monument. It has a plaque that tells us it’s the work of Fernando di Zitti, an architect who holds a degree in Urbanism from the National University of Mar del Plata, Argentina. Roy Payton, a civil engineer (for the city, one presumes), also had a hand in creating the monument.

Below this small attribution there’s a larger plaque that tells us it was probably commissioned by the Embassy of Argentina and Consulate-General of Los Angeles and gives the only indication of the monument’s title. It reads:

LA EMBAJADA DE LA REPUBLICA ARGENTINA
Y EL CONSULADO
GENERAL EN LOS ANGELES
AL PADRE DE LA PATRIA

This plaque is dated November 2001.

Visiting the José de San Martin Monument

This monument is in a weird place. It sits in the middle of a triangular traffic island at San Vicente Blvd and Burton Way. This makes it very difficult for anyone to appreciate. The traffic along these streets drives by so quickly, it’s unlikely that anyone even notices the head of the man honored as a liberator for roughly a third of South America.

José de San Martin. Photo from the author’s collection.

The traffic island is equally unfriendly for pedestrians. Although there is a crosswalk, figuring out how to cross the right way to get to the monument is an exercise in frustration, both due to poor urban design and the cars that speed by with no regard for anyone on foot. And even if you do manage to make it across the street to the spot alive, the traffic islands around the space are peppered with a confusing array of “Pedestrians Prohibited” signs.

Everywhere you turn — pedestrians prohibited. Photo from the author’s collection.

But let’s say you’re able to visit and pay your respects to General de San Martin. You’ll have to wonder … what is a monument for a famous South American figure doing in the middle of a neglected traffic island on the outskirts of Beverly Hills? For this, we have no answer.


Father of the Nation: Bust of José de San Martín


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Tom Fassbender is a writer of things with a strong adventurous streak. When not exploring Los Angeles, he’s been known to enjoy a cup of coffee or two. You can find him at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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