Fort Moore

Fort Moore

. It is now memorialized by the Fort Moore Pioneer Memorial. Its approximate location was at what is now the intersection of North Hill Street and West Cesar E. Chavez Avenue.

Mexican-American War

On August 13 1846, early in the conflict, U.S. naval forces under Commodore Robert F. Stockton sailed into Los Angeles and raised the American flag without opposition. A small occupying force of 50 Marines, under Captain Archibald H. Gillespie, built a rudimentary barricade on what was then known as Fort Hill overlooking the small town.

iege of Los Angeles

The harsh martial law of Captain Gillespie soon ignited a popular uprising among Californios and Mexicans led by General José Mariá Flores beginning on September 22 1846. Known as the Siege of Los Angeles, Californios assembled a force to retake Los Angeles. Gillespie's 50 marines were able to resist an initial attack on the government house in town and regrouped on Fort Hill, where they strengthened the fortification with sandbags and mounted their cannon. As time passed, the Californio forces opposing the US takeover grew to just over 60 men, with several Californio citizens voicing opposition. General Flores offered an ultimatum: leave within 24 hours or face attack. Gillespie agreed to withdraw from Los Angeles, under safe passage, on September 30 1846.

On October 7th, the American forces regrouped, with Commodore Stockton sending 350 Americans, including 200 US Marines, under US Navy Capt. William Mervine, to retake Los Angeles. The marines were defeated in their attempt at the Battle of Dominguez Rancho, as Stockton's fleet fled south to San Diego. In December, US Army forces under Captain Stephen W. Kearny were soundly defeated by the Californio Lancers at the Battle of San Pascual. Finally, after regrouping and resupplying forces in San Diego, on January 10 1847, Los Angeles was recaptured by the combined US 700 man forces of John C. Fremont, Stockton and Kearny, after the Battle of Rio San Gabriel and the Battle of La Mesa. With the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga on January 13 1847, war in Alta California ended.

On January 12 1847, in order to secure the area from any future counter-attacks, U.S. forces began erecting a 400-foot (120 m) long breastwork on the same strategic site as the previous Fort Hill and named it the Post at Los Angeles. The plans were later revised, and on April 23 a much larger defensive structure was begun on the same site. Constructed by the Mormon Battalion—the only religious "unit" in American military history—and the U.S. 1st Dragoons, it was designed for six cannons. It was never completed and was dedicated as Fort Moore on July 4 1847, named after Captain Benjamin D. Moore, 1st Dragoons, one of 22 Americans killed in the Battle of San Pasqual in San Diego County, on December 6 1846.

Post-War development

Lieutenant William T. Sherman ordered the garrison withdrawn in 1848, and the fort was abandoned in 1849 and decommissioned in 1853. In later years the site was leveled and became a public playground. By 1867, the site became a popular vantage point for the growing town. The hill became the site of a beer hall built by Jacob Philippi. Later, Mary Banning, wife of 'the Father of the Port of Los Angeles' Phineas Banning, converted the structure into a home.


Part of the hill itself became home to a cemetery, with the first documented burial tracing back to December 19 1853. Alternately known as Los Angeles City Cemetery, Protestant Cemetery, Fort Moore Hill Cemetery, Fort Hill Cemetery, or simply “the cemetery on the hill”, it was the city's first non-Catholic cemetery. The cemetery was overseen by the city starting in 1869. It was not well taken care of: it lacked clearly delineated boundaries, complete records or adequate maintenance. The Los Angeles City Council passed a resolution on August 30 1879, closing the cemetery to any future burials save for those with already reserved plots. By 1884, the city had sold portions of the cemetery as residential lots and the rest to the Los Angeles Board of Education (later the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)). The city never removed any bodies, and the former cemetery was the site of repeated, grisly findings and much negative press. As a result, the city began moving the bodies, most to Evergreen Cemetery, Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery, and Rosedale Cemetery, with the final bodies being transferred in May 1947. The recent construction of Los Angeles High School #9 resulted in the discovery of additional human remains. These were excavated by archaeologists 2006.

High school

By 1891, the site became home to the second location of Los Angeles High School. LAHS would move again in 1918. Most of the hill itself was removed in 1949, and a memorial was placed on its site in 1957. Part of the site was later replaced by the headquarters of LAUSD. Because of political and financial hardship caused by the construction of the nearby Belmont Learning Center, the LAUSD moved from the location in 2001 so that a new high school could be built on its location.

The new high school, tentatively named Central Los Angeles Area High School #9, is planned to specialize in visual and performing arts and be a part of the adjacent Los Angeles Cultural Corridor. The 238,000 square foot (22,110 m2), $171.9 million facility produced by the project team of Architect-of-Record HMC Architects and Designer-of-Record Austrian firm Coop Himmelb(l)au is scheduled for completion in 2008.

Fort Moore Pioneer Memorial

The Fort Moore Pioneer Memorial is a large stone memorial wall built in 1957 on part of the fort's original location facing Hill Street. As the largest bas-relief military monument in the United States, it honors the Mormon Battalion, the U.S. 1st Dragoons, and the New York Volunteers who raised the American flag over the fort on July 4, 1847, at the first Independence Day in Los Angeles.

Funded by the County of Los Angeles, the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Board of Education and the Department of Water and Power, the memorial was designed by Kazumi Adachi and Dike Nagano and dedicated on July 3 1957. Featuring four different panels, a 78 foot by 45 foot (23 x 14.6 m) terra cotta panel designed by Saltus Award-winner Henry Kreis is the most prominent feature and portrays the July 4 event.

Other panels represent the agricultural and spiritual foundation of the region; transportation that shaped the city at the end of the 19th century; and the crucial role that water and electricity play in a large modern city. An 80-foot (24 m) wide waterfall sits to the right of the panels, however it has been out of service since a 1977 drought. The monument also includes a 237-foot (72 m) long brick facade that serves as a backdrop for a 68-foot (21 m) high pylon designed by noted American sculptor Albert Stewart. The pylon features a 16 foot by 11 foot (4.9 x 3.3 m) American eagle as well as an incised relief on the low wall along the sidewalk depicting the 1,100-mile (1,770 km) march of the Mormon Battalion from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to Los Angeles.


* Herbert M. Hart, [ Historic California Posts: Fort Moore] , The California State Military Museum, "Accessed Oct. 24, 2006".
* Mark J. Denger, [ The Mexican War and California: The Two Forts of Fort Hill] , The California State Military Museum, "Accessed Oct. 24, 2006".
* [ Fort Moore Pioneer Monument] , Los Angeles County Arts Commission, "Accessed Jan. 1, 2008".
* [ Central L.A. Area New H.S. #9] , Los Angeles Unified School District, "Accessed Oct. 24, 2006".
* [ History of the Cemetery] , Southern California Genealogical Society, "Accessed Oct. 31, 2006".

External links

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