Today we’re going to delve into the shallower part of Echo Park’s past. “Chicken Corner” is the name used by many long-time and semi-long-time residents to describe the corner of Echo Park Ave. and Delta St. It’s where Chango has stood for the past six years. Why is it sometimes referred to as “Chicken Corner”? For the answer to that, I’m going to turn this post over to Jenny Burman and her excellent Echo Park blog, Chicken Corner.
Chicken Corner is the name of a place that does and does not exist. Technically, Chicken Corner sits at Echo Park Avenue and Delta Street, across from the Magic Gas gas station and Morton Avenue. For generations, this crossroads has been one of the nerve centers of the neighborhood. It has been a gang hangout, a drug market, an art gallery scene and now a fashion/indie rock scene, as well as a place where a lot of families have lived.
The place I call Chicken Corner is named after an Aaron Donovan mural that showed a bunch of unusual chickens. Hard-eyed chickens, one of them in leather, multicolored, painted in 1997 or 98 without a permit (I assume but don’t quote me on that) and occasionally tagged and otherwise assaulted. (At one point someone tossed about a quart of tan paint over it and at least one of the chickens disappeared forever.) The mural was titled, forgettably, “Moron.” When the Chango coffee house opened in 2004, its owners blasted out the mural in order to create a window on the side of the building.
In the late 1990s, Aaron Donovan, and his partner ran the Delirium Tremens art gallery, which was one of five storefront galleries at the base of the Del Mor apartment building facing Echo Park Avenue. The mural was painted on cinderblock on the Delta Street side of the building. It faced an open lot where chickens and goats lived. At one point, it was called a ranch. There was said to be a horse. This lot has been sold twice. Condominiums will be built there soon.
Recently, a friend of mine walked into Chango. He was wearing a Chicken Corner T-shirt. The clerk, standing behind the chicken mural mosaic, looked at the T-shirt and asked, “Where is Chicken Corner?”
Thanks to Jenny for letting me re-post her prose.
And now I think it’s time to throw this post into the Way Back Machine! The Eastsider LA posted this clip from a Three Stooges short that features “Chicken Corner” a long time ago. I thought I’d share it with you guys. During the last couple of minutes of the clip you’ll see a bunch of barrels rolling into a car-filled street. You see the sign that says “Ex-Lax”? That’s where Chango is today. That’s “Chicken Corner.” Enjoy!
*Just as a side note: does anyone know why Chango coffee is called chango? I thought that before they moved in there was a salon or something called Chango, but I’m not sure.