A Virtual Tour of Downtown Los Angeles' Historic Indian Alley in 360° Panorama

Way back in the day and way before the street address 118 Winston
Street became the art gallery and a yoga studio it's known for today, it was the meeting place of the secret society known as Catholic Knights of America (St. Joseph Branch # 397) according to Newmans's Directory and Guide of Los Angeles and Vicinity: A Handbook for Strangers and Residents published in 1903.  The guide indicates that meetings were held on the first Sunday of the month but alas, the guide does not reveal the secret password to get in!

After WWII, it became a mission for alcoholic GI veterans returning from the war. Here's the kicker: it was managed by a nun by the name of Sister Sylvia Creswell operating under the dba of "Sister Sylvia's Soul Patrol". Good Lord, but that's just so ghettofabkerouacalicious! It sounds like something Whoopi Goldberg starred in.

In the fifties it became a series of labor halls with men living on the top two floors in bunk beds and the ground floor being a kitchen and hiring hall.

Indian Alley as the Western Union set in "The Sting"

By the seventies, scenes of the hit movie "The Sting" were shot on location here. Following its 15 minutes of fame, 118 Winston became the headquarters for the United American Indian Involvement for about two decades before it moved to its current location in Los Angeles.

Established in 1974, the UAII is a non-profit social services agency that has helped thousands of Native Americans on Skid Row battle alcohol and drug abuse. During their two decades at this location, all the counselors were Native American and their recovery program combined psychological methods and native spirituality beliefs to assist their clients brothers and sisters rebuild their self-esteem and cultural identity.

Today the alley way at Winston and Werdin Place has become a street-art gallery featuring an amazing constellation of artists.  This virtual tour opens with the first pieces to be seen as you pass the gates and continues mid-way down the alley. I've outlined descriptions of the works below to help you identify each piece.

The alley in ye olde days.
Panoramic #1:
  • "Decolonize and Keep Calm" by Jaque Fragua (Honor The Treaties
  • "We Are Still Here" by Shepard Fairey, Aaron Huey, and Wild Life (Honor The Treaties
  • Wolf by Becca Midwood
  • Indian head by Wild Life
Panoramic #2:
    Ground level:
  • Robert Sundance portrait "Teach Peace" by Teacher
  • Toypurina portrait by Bandit
Panoramic #3:
Panoramic #4:
  • Chief Plenty Coups portrait by VOTAN
Panoramic #5:
  • "Sun Portal" by MYMO
Panoramic #6:
Special Thanks:

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Unknown said…
FYI Sister Sylvia was not a nun. She was a Four Square Gospel Mnister that studied under Amy Simple McPherson. She helped many men who were down and out after the war. She preached to them, and then fed them. She also had a "flop house" to provIde shelter. She had a radio program broadcast out of Long Beach. She lved her a meager life in service to others. Sister Sylvia was my grandmother, and the most loving, caring, positive person I have ever known. I am honored that she was my grandmother.
Sharon Dekker Long Beach, CA
Tanja Barnes said…
Wow!!!! That is soooo cool. I hope you realize I meant no disrespect. I just could not find any information about her and the name of her group "Sister Sylvia's Soul Patrol" still resonates powerfully and poetically throughout the decades. Thank you sooo very much for sharing more information about her. I'd love to know more and am happy to connect with you in person, if you have the time. Let me know.
Tanja Barnes said…
PS. I looked up the source about the nun, and yeah, it says nun. I didn't make that up, but yes, I did pass on wrong information. I'm sorry about that. Thanks for clarifying.