El Aliso de Los Angeles
Christine Ulke’s artwork for the exterior of Division 13 in downtown Los Angeles commemorates an iconic sycamore that stood for 400 years a few blocks south of the building site. Located near the bank of the Los Angeles River, the sycamore tree was at the center of Yaanga, one of the largest settlements of the native Tongva people in the LA basin. In the late 18th century, during the Spanish founding of the nearby El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, the sycamore was mistaken for an alder and acquired the Castilian moniker “El Aliso.” “El Aliso de Los Angeles” is illuminated from within by LED lighting and the overall effect emulates an urban-scale lantern. Visible in soft grays during the day, the luminous artwork is a beacon at night and a stunning reminder of Los Angeles’s vestigial roots.