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  • Rancho Los CerritosRancho Los Cerritos Long Beach, California
    The Rancho Los Cerritos originally was a land grant of 27,054 acres in Orange County, California, which was the result of a partitioning of the Rancho Los Nietos grant. The word cerritos means little hills in English, and today includes the cities of Long Beach and Cerritos. In 1834, the heirs of Manuel Nieto went to the governor, Jose Figueroa and asked that he break up the Rancho Los Nietos land grant into smaller parcels, the Nietos being 167,000 acres. The governor broke up the land parcel into 5 smaller ones, Las Bolsas, Los Coyotes, Santa Gertrudes, Los Alamitos and Los Cerritos, which went to Manuela Nieto, the daughter of Manuel, and her husband Guillermo Cota. In 1830, Jonathan Temple married the daughter of the Cotas, Rafeala, and then in 1843, bought the Rancho Los Cerritos, filing a claim with the Public Land Commission in 1852 and getting a patent for the rancho in 1867. A draught came to the region in 1863 and 1864, and Temple ended up selling the rancho to Flint, Bixby and Company in 1866. Today, the Rancho Los Cerritos adobe sits next to the Virginia Country Club in Long Beach, and is open for tours, and interpretive classes. Jonathan Temple constructed the adobe ranch house in 1844, and presently the library is a research facility for the Long Beach Public Library.  Eleven cogged stones were uncovered at the rancho in 1930, which were dated to 2-5000 BC., and became evidence of the first people to come to the area and settle. Not much has been found out about this early Native American tribe, but another group came from the Great Basin of Nevada and Utah in 500-1200 AD. and displaced the first settlers. These peoples would build between 50-100 villages in the region of Los Angeles, and one of these was Tibahangna, which was found on the property by the river. This group has been identified as the Tongva, who lived off the land, eating seeds and berries, fish from the rivers and ocean, and small game that they hunted. Evidently they had a highly evolved society that included a wonderful oral literature, technological accomplishments, formalized birth, rite-of-passage and death traditions, widespread trade and believed in a supreme being called Chinigchinich. When the Spanish started settling the area, the Tongva and other Native Americans were enticed to move to the missions, learning about Christianity and new trades, and became known as the Gabrielino, which was given since they lived near the Mission San Gabriel. The Spanish had discovered the land in 1542, claiming it for Spain, but they didn't start to settle until 1769, as both land and sea expeditions were sent by the government to start missions, pueblos, and forts. One of the soldiers that came here in 1784, was Manuel Nieto, who was given a land grant of 300,000 acres, a reward for his loyal military service and encourage him to settle in the new country. Then in 1790, in a dispute with the mission of San Gabriel, his grant was reduced, allowing him only 167,000 acres of land that spanned the hills north of Whittier to the sea, and the Los Angeles River to the Santa Ana River. Manuel built a home for his family by the current town of Whittier, brought horses and cattle to his rancho and started growing corn. When he passed on in 1804, his children would get his property.

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  • Museum of Latin American ArtMuseum of Latin American Art Long Beach, California
    The Museum of Latin American Art (MoLLA) is found in Long Beach, California housing numerous pieces of contemporary Latin American artworks, and is the only museum like this in the western United States. It was started by Dr. Robert Gumbiner in 1996, with a wonderful collection, cultural and educational programs as well. It was reopened in 2007, after a three rejuvenation that added 40,000 square feet of space and a new sculpture garden started. Items of artwork by Fernando Botero, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Jose Clemente Orozco and others. It is the only museum in the nation today that is devoted to modern and contemporary Latin American artworks. It is located in the newly developed East Village Arts District in Long Beach, where in the early 20th century, the site was the home of the Balboa Amusement Producing Company, at the time, the world's most innovative and productive silent film studio. It was completed renovated and has become the Entertainment/Education/Special Events venue and might have been a part of the old film studio; while the offices, main exhibition galleries and storage area is sitting in what once was the Hippodrome roller skating rink that was built in the late 1920s. Once the film studio was gone, the roller rink would become the place for skaters for the next forty years. After that was gone, the rink became a senior health center, which lasted 15 years and now is home to MoLLA. The high vaulted ceilings and magnificent wooden floors have been transformed into part of the museum.  The outstanding exhibition that sits in the sculpture and event garden is part of the museum's permanent collection and has been internationally recognized as the best collection of contemporary of Latin American sculpture in the country. The Robert Gumbiner Sculpture Garden and Event Center was opened in 2006, as a venue for private and public events, as well as the perfect place to showcase outdoor sculpture. Since the garden has opened, the museum has now started collecting pieces of sculpture which have already been graced with 30 abstract and figurative sculptures. Thus far, the pieces range in themes and styles created in wood, bronze, metal, polychrome and stainless steel metal that highlight the complex diversity of sculpture from the artists of Latin America. A few of these marvelous pieces include a bronze sculpture by Peruvian artist Fernando de Szyszlo, polychrome metal sculpture by Argentinean artist Perez Celis, and stainless steel sculpture by Mexican artist Leonardo Nierman. 

January 11, 2011