Boyle Heights Fountain Flows with Local Stories

In the new Mathews Street Park in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, a unique public art installation by local artist Mike Saijo brings the neighborhood’s rich history to life. The centerpiece is a stunning fountain adorned with colorful tiles depicting various landmarks from Boyle Heights’ diverse communities, including the Breed Street Shul synagogue, Mariachi Plaza, and the old Japanese Hospital.

But what makes this fountain truly special are the QR codes embedded in the tiles. When scanned with a smartphone, these codes reveal a collection of oral histories from longtime Boyle Heights residents, capturing the stories and memories of the neighborhood’s Jewish, Japanese, Mexican, and Black communities.

Saijo spent a year researching and recording 25 oral histories, visiting local churches, temples, and organizations to gather firsthand accounts from stakeholders. These stories range from a pastor’s tale of his Creole great-grandfather’s church to a granddaughter’s recollection of her Japanese immigrant grandmother, a pioneering female doctor in Boyle Heights.

The fountain serves as a living archive, preserving the rich tapestry of Boyle Heights’ history and inviting visitors to explore the neighborhood’s intersecting narratives through these personal accounts. As Saijo explains, “It’s titled Intersections, about the intersection of the Jewish, Japanese, Mexican, and Black communities in the Boyle Heights area.”

This interactive public art project not only celebrates Boyle Heights’ diverse heritage but also offers a unique way for residents and visitors alike to connect with the stories that have shaped this vibrant community over generations.

Find the full article at the link below with more details on this fascinating public art installation at to dive deeper into the rich histories captured in this unique fountain!

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