Though Ruben Salazar is mainly known for his work and legacy as a journalist, the Ruben Salazar Project is an attempt delve past Salazar’s work and discover Salazar as a person — a father, a son, a brother, a colleague. In this portion of the project, a bit of Salazar’s personal Southern California geographical history is pieced together. Where did he like to grab a quick meal? Where did he live? Where was he on that fateful August day in 1970? What places did he leave behind?
5536 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038
Nestled along a commercial strip across from Paramount Studios on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood, Lucy’s El Adobe Café is a captivating place to see. Park in the tiny lot behind the restaurant, walk through an aged outdoor foyer and one is quickly enveloped in the history of Lucy’s. The main dining room, dimmed and melancholic during lunchtime hours, is filled with photos of local, state and national celebrities and figures (including Ruben Salazar) who have enjoyed a taste of Lucy’s. The sidewalk outside of the restaurant bears his name and date of death carved into the cement. The KMEX-TV studios where he worked as a news director in 1970 were just a short walk away on Bronson Avenue in front of the Paramount gate. In March 2012, enchiladas verdes were $14… but in the lunch menu found in the Salazar archives, it looks like Ruben could get the dish for $1.80.
4945 E. Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90022
On August 29, 1970, Ruben Salazar stopped in at the Silver Dollar Bar and Cafe in East Los Angeles to take a break from covering the Chicano Moratorium. Around 30,000 people gathered in on that day to protest the Vietnam War and Salazar was on hand with his KMEX crew. But his fateful stop at the Silver Dollar would lead to tragedy, as sheriffs surrounded the bar and fired a tear gas projective into the establishment, killing Salazar. More than 40 years later, the Silver Dollar on Whittier Boulevard is gone. There’s a run-down clothing shop — J Nissi — at the site of the old Silver Dollar. Across the street from the old site is the Sounds of Music Discount Records shop — an aged, eclectic music store with a nice stock of drug paraphernalia. Old vinyls, cassettes CDs and bongs abound, but signs of Salazar do not.
3864 Whittier Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90023
This 8.4-acre park, less than two miles west of the site of the Silver Dollar Bar, was renamed in honor of Ruben Salazar in September of 1970, after Salazar was killed following the Chicano Moratorium. Brightly painted playground equipment, renovated basketball courts, a spacious public pool and a senior center occupy parts of the land, but the most striking feature is the two-story mural on the north side of one of the classroom buildings. Images of musicians, Latino families and cultural symbols are among the intricate detailings in the large mural. But upon closer inspection, a small yet fitting tribute to Salazar is in the mural as well. A minimal portrait of Salazar is somewhat obscured in the mural, but he symbolically be looks over all those who visit his park. However, according to his daughter Lisa, Ruben Salazar did not have a middle name, and public officials have never given her an answer as to why this park bears a mistake in its name.
202 West 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Opened in 1935, the Los Angeles Times building represents the bulk of Ruben Salazar’s journalistic legacy. It’s the place from which editors sent him to Cuba, Mexico and Vietnam; the place where he filed controversial and captivating columns; and the place from which he’d take a break and head over with newsroom colleagues to the Redwood Bar for a drink. This site was built on the corner of 1st and Spring streets in Downtown Los Angeles, 25 years after the bombing of the original LA Times building on 1st and Broadway streets.
3118 South Rita Way, Santa Ana, CA
This is the home where Ruben and Sally Salazar hosted friends and family, where Ruben relaxed and listened to his favorite singer, Peggy Lee, where he and his family hoped to build their lives together. Ruben often came home and relaxed in the jacuzzi after a long day in the newsroom, according to Lisa Salazar Johnson.