Workman and Elizabeth Hollenbeck, whose late husband John invested heavily in Los Angeles-area real estate and banking before his 1885 death, agreed to donate fifteen and ten acres, respectively, to the city for a new Boyle Heights park to be dedicated to John Hollenbeck. The main condition was that the city commit to spending $10,000 over two years for improvements and the council approved the proposal by early 1892.
|Some of the details of the new Hollenbeck Park are given in this excerpt of a long article in the 26 March 1894 edition of the Herald. From newspapers.com.|
It likely didn't help that the economy wasn't particularly strong and would become more strained by the onset of a national depression in 1893. Still, the council had come to an agreement with Workman and Hollenbeck and decided to make a special appropriation to make up the shortfall.
|A circa 1890s stereoscopic photograph of the lake and pedestrian bridge at Hollenbeck Park. From the collection of the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, City of Industry, California.|
The effort to plant trees, bushes and shrubs and grass and lay out walkways, benches and other amenities took some time and the park was dedicated in the middle of 1893. Within a couple of years, a boathouse was established and a franchise awarded for the operation of pleasure boats on the lake.
In all, though, Hollenbeck Park proved to be a popular and highly-visited amenity for the growing community and this appears to have been a motivation for its benefactors. Workman and Mrs. Hollenbeck owned substantial property surrounding the park and, not long after its creation and opening, the two subdivided their holdings into the Workman Park Tract and the Hollenbeck Heights Tract.
Over time, development continued to accelerate near the park and elsewhere in Boyle Heights, although development trends in west Los Angeles and the emerging industrial core of the east part of downtown brought about a transformation of Boyle Heights from a middle and upper class residential suburb to a working and middle class enclave.
|The 5 March 1905 edition of the Herald has an ad of the Hollenbeck Park Heights Tract, subdivided by Elizabeth Hollenbeck, featuring two views of the park to lure prospective buyers. From newspapers.com.|
Hollenbeck Park approaches its 125th birthday as one of the most notable symbols of the Boyle Heights community. Its gift to the city by William H. Workman and Elizabeth Hollenbeck may have been equal parts philanthropy and business, but it has served and continue to play a central role in the neighborhood's identity.
|A view of the original boathouse, built in the 1890s, at Hollenbeck Park from a 1914 photograph. From the collection of the Workman and Temple Family Homestead Museum, City of Industry, California.|