Monica Alcaraz has lived in Highland Park her entire life, and she's noticed that her neighborhood is changing.
So, in her last official act as the president of the Highland Park Neighborhood Council, she decided to make a time capsule.
“This is a way to capture what Highland Park is right now, with the community changing so much,” said Alcaraz. “I don’t know how it’s gonna look. I think the buildings will stay the same, but the type of businesses that are in place may be different.”
The capsule will be buried for 25 years, to be opened in 2041. Alcaraz is soliciting community contributions, which will be placed in a small metal box and buried at the Highland Park Senior Citizen Center at a ceremony next week.
She has received a range of suggestions, from the serious — like yearbooks and photographs documenting gentrification — to more silly ones — like Flaming Hot Cheetos and vegan donuts.
“Someone suggested actual hipsters,” Alcaraz said. “I don’t know how you would do that.”
We went to Highland Park to ask residents and neighbors what they would put in the time capsule. Here’s what they told us:
A photo of the Frank’s Camera Store sign
Highland Park is full of old buildings with signs from a bygone era. Like the old Highland Park Liquor store at the corner of Figueroa Street and Avenue 59. Its sign says “Coldest Beer in Town”. It's now an empty storefront.
Matthew Moore, who is new to the neighborhood, said someone should take photos of those signs, and put them in the time capsule.
“Even, like the Frank’s Camera Shop [sign]. All these places — they’re not camera shops anymore — but the signs are still representative of the neighborhood,” he said.
A menu from Folliero’s, a local pizza shop
Folliero’s has been serving pizza on Figueroa since 1968.
“It’s nice,” said 23-year-old Joey Calderon, a Highland Park resident since birth. “It’s a little source of pride I guess, because it’s really good pizza.”
Calderon said he’s been going to the family-run pizza place since he was a kid.
“It’s a really popular spot, lots of people go there, it’s been here forever,” Calderon added. “I consider that to be part of Highland Park and the ethos behind it.”
Eviction notices, especially from the Latino community
Armando Medina has lived in Highland Park for 45 years. He said the time capsule should include reminders of Highland Park’s past, like eviction notices.
“If you go through Highland Park right now, you see five or six empty apartment buildings, and those apartment buildings all (had) families, and they were all evicted,” said Medina. “The fact is that they were all kicked out because of what they call ‘change,’ gentrification and the so-called ‘up-and-coming’ Highland Park.”
He said he thinks by the time the capsule is opened in 2041, everything that he loves about the neighborhood will be gone.
“Our favorite restaurants, all the residents, the low-income families,” he said. “I know everything will be gone in 25 years -- maybe even in five to 10 years.”
A photo of the Highland Park Old L.A. Certified Farmers Market
Maria Garcia, who has lived in Highland Park her whole life, said the time capsule should include a photo from the farmers market.
“I think the farmers market helps people understand how to eat more healthy and understand where their food comes from," Garcia said. So that’s an important part of living in a healthy environment.”
Garcia, who has lived in Highland Park her whole life, explained that the market -- which opened in 2006 -- marks a big change towards health and community in the neighborhood.
A ticket from the Highland Theater
The Highland Theater has been on Figueroa for over 90 years. In 2011, local organizations, businesses, and the National Park Service raised enough money to re-light the sign, which was left unlit for a decade.
“I always thought that the iconic thing for Highland Park was the movie theater,” said Michael Garcia, who lived in the community for 10 years. “The movie theater was that one place I’d always go. It always felt special to me.”
A photo of York Park
The park, which is located on the corner of Avenue 50 and York Boulevard, opened in 2015. The corner lot used to be home to a gas station.
“They made a wonderful use of that small amount of unused space,” said Jack Renshaw, who has lived in Highland Park for two years. “We need more places like that developed.”
A brick from an old building
Lluvia Carrasco has just moved to the neighborhood from the Bay Area, but she said she has already fallen in love with the murals on the buildings she walks past.
“If they’re redoing a building, maybe a tile or a piece of wall or a brick with the original painting,” Carrasco said. “But I hope they don’t take down the murals."
Eighteen-year-old Dominic Nunez had to think for a while before he came up with what he thought represented the neighborhood he's lived in for the past 10 years.
“Does it have to be something positive? Because I think they should put trash," Nunez said. "Highland Park is kinda dirty.”
A menu from the La Monarca Bakery on Figueroa
Tony Parker has been coming to Highland Park for over 15 years. He said before, it was mostly a Latino neighborhood, but other groups are moving in now, too.
So, he said, a menu from the La Monarca Bakery would be a good addition to the time capsule because he thinks of the coffee shop as a metaphor for the neighborhood.
“Monarca is kind of like a Latino restaurant in a way, and it caters to the Latino population, but it’s also kind of hip so the newer people that are coming into the neighborhood are also into going there,” Parker said.
Alcaraz is accepting suggestions for the time capsule through Saturday. You can email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org