This Wall Is the Longest Mural in the World and Tells the Story of California

 | May 25, 2022

Image courtesy of the Office of Historic Resources.

There is a place in Los Angeles that celebrates like no other California’s history of diversity through art. It’s the Great Wall of Los Angeles, a key cultural landmark and one that conveys a powerful message of equality.

It all started with a Chicana artist

Great Wall of Los Angeles Mural
Image courtesy of

In 1974, amid a cultural, political, and ideological awakening, the Army Corps of Engineers contacted Chicana artist Judith F. Baca with a novel idea. It was the possibility of creating a mural in the flood control channel as part of a city beautification project.

Witnessing the social movement and representing the city’s immigrant community, Baca accepted the project.

The story the artist wanted the mural to tell, however, was the one omitted from the books — that of people of color and indigenous peoples.

Born in Watts to a Mexican family, Judith Baca grew up with the civil movements of the 1960s. 

The influence of her indigenous grandmother, who nurtured her creativity and love of art, forged the artist’s identity.

Baca’s revolution then began with a paintbrush and by adopting the technique of muralism, once considered a “man’s art.”

A mural and a community

Judy Baca Mural Wall Los Angeles
Image courtesy of

Baca set to work and began what would be her largest project.

With a team of 80 youth referred by the criminal justice department, ten artists, and five historians, the 1,000-foot concrete wall began to tell the story of California from the time of the dinosaurs to 1910 in the Tujunga Wash drainage channel in the San Fernando Valley.

The piece tells the true story of our ancestors, diseases brought by ships, racism, and the diaspora.

The crew, known as the Mural Makers, worked during the summers of 1978, 1980, 1981, and 1983, adding 250 feet each year and contributing their own stories.

The importance of the Latino gaze

While the technique and ideas of Baca’s work placed the artist at the forefront of the art world, the voice of her wall spoke much louder. Thanks to her mural, a community accustomed to the beauty of art used as a false promise of inclusion managed to recognize itself in the values of thousands of years of struggles.

Fun facts:

  • The Great Wall of Los Angeles took over five years to complete.
  • More than 2,271 liters of paint were used to complete the work.
  • The mural begins at the south end, at the corner of Burbank Blvd and Coldwater Canyon Ave, and ends almost a mile north, where Coldwater Canyon Ave intersects with Oxnard Street.
  • The Great Wall of Los Angeles is one of the largest murals in the world, at 13.5 feet high and 2,754 feet long, and stretches for more than half a mile.
  • It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in September 2017.

Location: Los Angeles, California

Address: 12920 Oxnard Street

Google 360-view: You can see The Great Wall of Los Angeles from your home by clicking here.

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