Frank Glass and Grace E. Simons Memorial Sculpture

Frank Glass and Grace E. Simons Memorial Sculpture

Located at a site that offers one of the best views of the Los Angeles Skyline, you’ll find an unusual and much neglected sculpture honoring a husband and wife credited for saving Elysian Park.

The Sculpture at Angels Point

The eye-catching sculpture placed at Angels Point was designed by Echo Park-based artist Peter Shire in 1994. The sculpture, commissioned by the Department of Cultural Affairs, is meant to serve as an echo to the skyline of Downtown Los Angeles — the view of which is excellent from Angels Point, especially during sunrise.

Peter Shire’s sculpture at Angels Point works in concert with the Los Angeles Skyline. Photo from the author’s collection.

The sculpture stands 28 feet tall and is comprised of welded steel and copper resting atop four 12-foot-tall concrete pillars. It features a gazebo-like arrangement of geometric shapes and lattice-work indicative of Shire’s sculptural work. A faux anemometer sits atop the structure, and the placement even incorporates a Mexican Fan Palm just off the sculpture’s center.

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The design is representative of the city’s network of freeways, train tracks, oil wells, and humanity — all woven throughout its geometry — and meant to evoke the universal fabric of Los Angeles.

Three blocky concrete chairs sit beneath the sculpture’s canopy, angled so visitors can sit and enjoy a view of Downtown L.A. for as long as one can be comfortable in a concrete easy chair.

The Frank Glass and Grace E. Simons Memorial Sculpture looking back from Angels Point. Photo from the author’s collection.

Mounted on the sculpture’s only square pillar, located on the western side of the structure, is a plaque that reads:

“In Memory of Frank Glass & Grace E Simons — Protectors of Elysian Park”

The memorial is a cenotaph for community organizers Frank Glass and Grace E. Simons. Photo from the author’s collection.

Frank Glass & Grace E Simons

Grace E. Simons (for whom the eponymous lodge and popular event space across Stadium Way is also named) was a newspaper editor and journalist who wrote for the California Eagle, a popular African American newspaper published in Los Angeles. Her husband Frank Glass was an organizer for the Communist Party.

In 1965 Simons, along with a group of her neighbors (one presumes Glass was part of this), founded the Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park. Fearing a revisiting of the disruption Dodger Stadium brought to the Elysian Park Landscape just four years prior, the organization’s initial goal was to prevent the city from building a convention center at the corner of Scott Avenue and Stadium Way, just down the street from the Barlow Respiratory Hospital.

This grassroots coalition proved to be successful, and in the ensuing years Simons and the Committee prevented oil wells, freeways, restaurants, parking lots, condominiums, and even a small airport from marring the natural landscape of Elysian Park’s 585 acres. Simons passed away in 1985 and Glass died in 1987, but their legacy carries on with the Committee still working towards its goal of protection Elysian Park today.

Looking up from underneath the sculpture. Photo from the author’s collection.

Almost since the first days of its installation, the sculpture’s black-and-red painted surfaces, along with its steel, copper, and concrete construction, have attracted scores of taggers and graffiti artists.

While many people visit Angels Point for the view of Downtown Los Angeles, others visit Angels Point to enjoy a few beers, share some smoke, and paint up a miniature representation of the Los Angeles skyline. The city tries to remove they graffiti, but it’s a losing battle. The shiny structure is just too much of an easy target in a highly visible location without any sort of surveillance.

Elysian Park

The natural space known today as Elysian Park dates back to 1886 when Mayor E.F. Spence (the city’s 17th) signed City Ordinance Number 218 with the words:

“That the real property located in the city of Los Angeles and owned by the city of Los Angeles hereinafter described, is hereby set apart for the use of the public as a Public Park, and is forever dedicated to the Public as such a park.”

Bolted to a nearby rock you will find another plaque, one that ostensibly explains the cultural significance and history of Elysian Park. But the plaque is covered in so many layers of graffiti-abating paint that the two paragraphs of embossed text beneath it are unreadable. So often this city shows such a disdain for its own history.

The paint-covered historical plaque, adjacent to the memorial sculpture, supposedly explains Elysian Park’s history and founding. Photo from the author’s collection.

Visiting Angels Point

It’s easy to get to Angels Point. You can park on either Angels Point Road or on Academy Road. Form either spot, it’s a short walk along a a dirt trail to get to the sculpture and one of the best views of the Downtown Los Angeles Skyline in the city.

The Downtown Los Angeles Skyline from Angels Point. It’s best viewed here in the early morning light. Photo from the author’s collection.

You’ll also have great views of the Elysian Valley including Echo Park’s iconic copper-topped Ukrainian Orthodox Church just to the north and the Victory Memorial Grove across the valley.

The Frank Glass & Grace E. Simons Memorial Sculpture as seen from Victory Memorial Grove. Photo from the author’s collection.

And don’t be too alarmed if you hear multiple rounds of gunfire when you visit. That’s just the cadets at the nearby LAPD Academy Firing Range.

Frank Glass & Grace E. Simons Memorial Sculpture

  • Angels Point, Elysian Park (between Stadium Way and Academy Road)
  • GPS Coordinates: 34.080648, -118.245460 [ Google Maps ]
  • what3words: ///cave.frame.bats

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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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