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Over the eastern edge of Echo Park stands the concrete Queen of the Angels, Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles. Known endearingly among the locals as the Lady of the Lake, this statue was first created by Ada May Sharpless in 1934 as a commission from the Federal Works Progress Administration. Though it was meant to be cast in bronze, concrete was deemed more cost effective in a time ravaged by the Great Depression. Once completed, the statue was gifted to the city of Los Angeles in 1935.

  • Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles (Queen of the Angels) was a statue created by Ada May Sharpless in 1904 and given as a gift to the city of Los Angeles in June of 1905. It is styled in the Art Deco fashion and made from concrete.
  • A plaque was erected alongside the newly restored Lady of the Lake in 1999, detailing her history and the journey she's made over the years.
  • The Lady of the Lake statue as it stood in 1937 while it was still relatively new and untouched by the vandalism that would ultimately lead to its placement in storage in 1986.
  • Ada May Sharpless standing proudly beside her 14 ft creation. Though she created other works of art through the P.W.A.P program, the Queen of Angels was her largest undertaking.
  • Clipping of a newspaper article discussing the P.W.A.P program and its aid to Ada May Sharpless and other artists during the hard times caused by the Depression.
Born in 1904 in Hilo, Hawaii, Ada May Sharpless would grow to turn her back on the traditional role of the female at the time, spurning marriage in favor of an education. After graduating from the University of Southern California in 1922, she traveled to Paris to continue her pursuit of learning and the arts. There she studied beneath sculptor, Emile Antoine Bourdelle, and worked in a studio on Rue Boissonnade. When she made her return to the United States in 1929, it was just in time for the "Black Tuesday" stock market crash.

Despite the weight of the Depression, Ada continued to work tirelessly on her art without reward or compensation, much like many other struggling artists in Los Angeles at the time. Many among the art scene at the time believed these artists to be untalented and uninspired. Los Angeles Times art critic, Arthur Miller was especially critical of women artists at the time, claiming the space was taken up by 
"art associations, women's clubs, and endless abortive talks, teas, and schemes." With little money coming in, there were not enough resources going around.

When Hoover left office, there came the first breath of hope:

When Roosevelt took office in 1933, the Federal government quickly began to implement his promise of "a new deal," focusing on the three R's: relief, recovery, and reform. Edward Bruce, a powerful banker and amateur painter, believed relief should extend to creative artists. With the full backing of the Roosevelt administration, and an extra nudge from the first lady, The Public Works of Art Project, called P.W.A.P, was funded for an initial two month period starting December 15, 1933.

Of the 600 artists that applied for the program - and of the 100 accepted - stood Ada. Through the program, artists were paid anywhere from $15 to $26.50 a week, and given few restrictions in their work. The idea was that these artists would create work that would be donated to public institutions such as schools and libraries. Ada's Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles was one such piece, standing at a tall, proud 14ft as the archetypal mother of the city.

The Lady of the Lake, as it came to be called, remained at Echo Park through the 1980s. Like many of the other art projects commissioned at the same time, it suffered the ravages of the passing decades and a city that only grew worse in regards to crime. Littered with graffiti, suffering from broken fingers, and plagued by erosion, the statue was put into storage in 1986. It would not be until 1999, during the ‘renaissance’ of Echo Park and the efforts to revitalize and restore the area that the Lady of the Lake would make her appearance once more. Not only had she been restored to her former glory, but this time she was covered in an anti-graffiti sealant.

Today she remains standing as a testament to the longevity, perseverance, and resilience of the human soul and creative mind. 

Meares, Hadley. The Lady of the Lake: The Depression Era Roots of Echo Park's Unofficial Patron Saint. KCET. August 23, 2013. Accessed November 30, 2017.

Lady of the Lake. Historic Echo Park. Accessed November 30, 2017.

Harrison, Scott. From the Archives: 'Lady of the Lake' statue. LA Times. October 11, 2017. Accessed November 30, 2017.