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Nuestro Pueblo: The Pershing Square Mystery

June 8, 2009 |  7:00 am
June 7, 1939, Nuestro Pueblo

"The Last Argument of Kings"
Sept. 20, 1953, Cannon

Sept. 20, 1953: The cannon was moved to Travel Town in Griffith Park.
This simple post about a cannon at Pershing Square has become ridiculously complicated. All I want to know is what became of it!

A longtime gathering place for malcontents and the homeless, the site has been known as the New Plaza, 6th Street Park, Central Park, St. Vincent's Park and Pershing Square. To delve into its tawdry history is to read nearly countless stories of attempts to rid it of rats, pigeons and blackbirds. But I won't get derailed into all of that today.

The cannon in Nuestro Pueblo (which I'll call "The Last Argument of Kings") was captured at Santiago de Cuba and given to Los Angeles by Maj. Gen. William R. Shafter on Thanksgiving Day, 1899.

Dec. 1, 1899, Cannon

This is how The Times depicted "The Last Argument of Kings" cannon on Dec. 1, 1899. Although the artwork is unsigned, I would guess that it might have been done by Ted Gale, staff artist and cartoonist.

And this is Shafter's presentation speech:

Dec. 1, 1899, Shafter Speech

According to a 1947 story, "The Last Argument of Kings" was placed at the northeast corner of the park, 5th and Hill streets.

Jan. 3, 1961, Cannon at Travel Town

After World War II, Pershing Square was excavated to create underground parking and the mature landscaping and fountain were removed. Evidently "The Last Argument of Kings" was considered incompatible with the new landscaping and moved to Travel Town, where it was photographed for a Jan. 3, 1961, Times feature. Bonus fact: Victory House was built at the park during World War II as a USO facility for servicemen.  

July 5, 1935, Old Ironsides Cannon

But one cannon wasn't enough for Pershing Square. On the Fourth of July, 1935, a second cannon was placed in the park, at the southwest corner, Olive and 6th Street. The "Old Ironsides" cannon remains in Pershing Square.

Dec. 11, 1975, Cannon

In the meantime, "The Last Argument of Kings" has become a plaything for children at Travel Town, as photographed by Boris Yaro, Dec. 11, 1975. 

I may have to make a field trip to Travel Town and see if it's still there.