El Pino, the East Los world renowned pine tree, stands overlooking the Eastside at the top of the County and City Line. It’s just up the hill from Cinco Puntos, the Mexican-American Veterans’ Memorial. You can spot it from nearly every corner, whether you’re on the freeway that surrounds our barrio or in one of downtown’s skyscrapers. To some it’s just a tree but to others it’s a sign of pride, a sign of home, East Los.
El Pino got its fame from the Hollywood movie Blood in Blood Out, also known as Bound by Honor. In the movie, El Pino plays a landmark for the local gang’s territory. They claim it, they own it, and they represent it. In the years since then, El Pino has become a sort of East Los tourist destination. It’s just a block away from El Mercadito, Cinco Puntos, Evergreen Cemetery and many other notable locations. Morrissey, the East L.A beloved Englishman, was once spotted visiting the tree. While my friend was on tour in Iraq, he worked side by side with some Australian soldiers. In one of their talks they shared their memories of home, and right when they heard “I’m from East Los” they said “Do you know El Pino?” My friend’s response? “I wake up looking at it every day.”
For me, El Pino stirs nostalgic feelings. That tree has seen so much, experienced so much. It has history, it knows our history, it knows us and we know it. East Los has its reputation and its stereotypes, but together we stand tall like El Pino. We go with the wind, shine with the sun and grow with the years.
El Pino is located on Folsom St by Indiana Ave and Floral Drive.