The MacArthur Park is the 100th historic cultural monument of the city. It was previously called Westlake Park when it first opened during the 1880s. The park’s namesake is General Douglas MacArthur, who led the Philippine troops during the Second World War. He received the Medal of Honor after the war ended because of his military services in the Philippines.
One interesting feature of the MacArthur Park is that it is divided into two by the Wilshire Boulevard. The northern portion of the park has a rather innocent and uneventful history compared to the southern portion of the park where a lake is located. Sometime during the 1980s, the park was the site of gang fights, shoot-outs, and even a few murders took place within the grounds. It was reported that when the park lake was drained in 1978, there were hundreds of firearms found at the bottom. These were thrown in the lake by gang members and other individuals to dispose of incriminatory evidence of any crime or gang fight done in the park.
In an attempt to lower the amount of violence and crime being committed in Los Angeles, surveillance cameras were installed and more and more public activities were conducted there. Soon enough, the crime rate and shooting incidents have significantly decreased over the past years. One incident related to crime was when the park was used as a setting for some scenes in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, a 2005 movie starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer. The movie was about a criminal who ends up landing a role in a Hollywood movie.
The northern portion of the MacArthur Park is where visitors can find an amphitheatre, a recreation center, and a playground, among others. Here, more than 50 concerts are hosted every summer. Visitors can easily reach the park by taking the subway and getting off at the Westlake/MacArthur Park station, which is located opposite the park.