Those wandering into MacArthur Park expecting to enjoy a sunny afternoon under the Los Angeles sun may be surprised by what they find. The park receives mixed reviews from locals and visitors alike, but among the artistic set or those in search of the seedier side of the city, the park is a favorite. The park was originally called Westlake Park and was designated as a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument. The park is divided in half by Wilshire Boulevard, south of which is primarily the lake. There is also a band shell, an amphitheatre, a children's playground, a recreation center, and a soccer field. The bandshell is now the Levitt Pavilion and hosts a variety of free concerts every summer. The park has been featured in songs, movies and television shows. Since the 1980's, the park has been the site of many minor and major violent events. It is common to hear about shootings, gang violence and drownings in the lake. An effort has been made by the community and by area police officers to clean up the park, but it is an ongoing battle that the increased police presence and surveillance cameras have not solved. Visitors to the park still report run-ins with shady characters selling everything from churros to fake IDs. Most of the violence reported today is gang related and there are many members of the community who enjoy visiting the park because it shows a side of life not seen by the average middle-class individual.
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