Recently, Chicken Corner heard from Steve Zeleny, archivist for the Foursquare Church, in regard to the lotus bed that used to flourish in Echo Park Lake across from the Angelus Temple.
A while back you wrote [for the Echo Park Historical Society] about the history of the lotuses in Echo Park Lake. I had reason to research this this morning, and I thought you might be interested in what the documents in the archives of the Foursquare Church revealed.
Of course the story of Aimee Semple McPherson or Angelus Temple visiting missionaries planting the lotuses in Echo Park Lake is well-known, but a full-text search of our collection revealed no documentation supporting it. Aimee never mentioned the lotuses in any of her books or writings and there are no references supporting this story in any of the historic Foursquare magazines.
One solid lead however is a story from the June 19, 1929, Foursquare Crusader which describes Aimee's first visit to Echo Park in July, 1920 as follows:
A formal tropical garden spread itself over many acres. The air was heavily redolent with the fragrance of exotic flowers. There were meandering promenades of palms. Here and there, tiny clumps of stately eucalyptus and lacy peppers guarded the privacy of a sapphire lake in which there were myriads of water lilies and white-throated swans. But just across the street was a vacant lot. This was the spot-this would be the home of a Temple for the Lord!
If this story is accurate, then the lotuses definitely existed in Echo Park Lake prior to Aimee's first visit in 1920, and this, of course, is right in line with the L.A. Times articles you quoted from the 1890s indicating that the introduction of the flowers to the lake was probably long before Aimee's time.
History may be well served here. Even if the lotus are now dead and the lake mostly drained. (The water level was said to rise after the recent rains, drawing long-legged wading birds back from the Los Angeles River.) For the record: The lake's renovation plan calls for the replanting of the otherworldy aquatic flowers. Now that they're a natural part of the park's history.
Above: On the Red Line, Saturday, before the march from Pershing Square to City Hall. Looked like they knew what they wanted to say.
Chicken Corner rode the Red Line Saturday to occupy L.A. She found a lively, boisterous, peaceful crowd, ran into various friends and neighbors. The police seemed relaxed. The message focused on the numbers 99 and 1. It looked like a huge crowd -- there was little room to move easily during the walk from Pershing Square to City Hall, which is why I was surprised to see the L.A. Times story placed on page 37A.