DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — At the Los Angeles Historic Italian Hall Foundation's First Annual "Taste Of Italy" on Saturday night, Councilman Tom LaBonge won over the Pico House crowd with a prototype district sign that read "Little Italy." It was presented in between opera sets and servings of wine, pastas and pizza.
The borders of what would make up a Little Italy would certainly take debate. The Italian community in Los Angeles was originally centered in land that is today occupied by Chinatown.
Still, one of the signs could go by the Italian Hall, where the Foundation plans to build a museum on the second floor.
The space is slated for a 2010 opening, but dates to open a museum there have slipped before.
The effort to build a museum that tells the stories about Italian-American Angelenos has been ongoing since 1988, when L.A.'s Italian community began a support group, Friends of the Italian Hall. They in turn became the Historic Italian Hall Foundation in 1993.
Outside the Pico House, once owned by a Giuseppe Pagliano, tables were filled with people having coffees and desserts, finding shared bonds going back several generations.
"It's like going to a wedding and finding out you have a lot of relatives," one man is overheard as saying. "I didn't know we had such a big Los Angeles family."