Unearthing ‘La Pila,’ A Remnant of A Bygone Hispanic Neighborhood

“You know they could’ve kept this thing. They didn’t have to knock it down like they did.”

By Carlos E. MoralesNovember 14, 2016 9:30 am| , , ,

From Heart of Texas Public Radio:

In Waco during the 1900s pockets of Hispanic communities lived in neighborhoods with names like Sandtown, White City and Calle Dos. These areas were eventually demolished and are now memories of the town’s early days. But there has been a recent effort to unearth a remaining vestige of one of these communities.

At the corner of Jefferson Avenue and University Parks Drive, volunteers use trowels to chip away at the ground beneath .They’re slowly unearthing a spring-fed water fountain known as “La Pila.”

“It was a beautiful fountain, but not as ornate as some of the other ones,” Alice Rodriguez says, remembering childhood days playing at “La Pila” – a wide, rounded concrete fountain with a bowl on top where water would flow.

“The water there, I remember the water being cold, because my cousins, pushed me in there,” Rodriguez says, laughing. “We were playing and they pushed me in there.”

La Pilla – Spanish for “the fountain” – was a gathering point for Calle Dos, an early 20th-century neighborhood in Waco that was home to Mexican Immigrants. Others from around the city would go there too. But, in the 50s, La Pila was plugged and covered up. In fact, the entire Calle Dos neighborhood and similar districts – were bulldozed as part of The Waco Urban Renewal Project in 1958.

Louis Gaytan-Garcia – who has worked to dig out the fountain – says it could’ve been saved.

“You know they could’ve kept this thing. They didn’t have to knock it down like they did. They just wiped it out,” Gacia says, looking at a corner of the fountain that’s visible. “It’s actually broke around the edges right there, where the Caterpillar was trying to crawl up on top of it and you can see where he broke the edges of the concrete trying to pack this dirt.”

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