The indigenous people of the Tongva Nation, the aboriginal tribe of the Los Angeles Basin had long been established near the river when King Carlos the III of Spain ordered the settlement of the territory by Felipe de Neve thus sending 44 families on the long journey from Mexico to Alta California to start the pueblo de La Reina De Los Angeles in 1781.
Olvera Street is located on the general site of the birthplace of the city of Los Angeles, near the Plaza, the Plaza Church and the Zanja Madre. Originally called Vine Street, in 1877 it was renamed after Agustin Olvera, the first judge of the county of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, by the 1920's the once robust community had become a dangerous and dilapidated area long abandoned by its prosperous founders.
So when Mrs. Christine Sterling, a wealthy young matron who loved history, found herself surrounded by original adobes and run down historic buildings, she began a crusade that would change her life and preserve the heritage of Los Angeles. Along with the participation of the local Mexican community in the area, she invited local Artisans and Mexican small business owners to create the "Mexican Marketplace" Olvera Street, in order to secure the protection of this historical site and the culture of California.
Along with several other wealthy citizens of Los Angeles, she founded the "Plaza de Los Angeles Corporation", and became its lifelong manager. Mrs. Sterling opened Olvera Street to the general public in April 1930. Although there have been many developments in the last seventy years, her idea of a Mexican Marketplace still exists and continues to attract visitors from around the world.