The 32-acre plot that comprises the project site has enjoyed a vital, varied, and of late,
contentious history. Tongva villages existed in this area for more than two millennia when outside explorers arrived in 1769. Located half a mile from the original city center and 150 feet from the Los Angeles River, the site was also home to the Zanja Madre, or “Mother Ditch” – a key section of Los Angeles' initial water system. Later, the Southern Pacific railroad company used the land as a railyard. The sole trains today are the MTA Gold Line cars that zip by a few feet to the west of the site. MTA construction in April, 2005 led further to the re-discovery of the Zanja Madre.
The Not A Cornfield art project name is a play on "The Cornfield," the moniker that the land has long since been known by. The latter name came about – depending on the source – either because corn seeds used to spill off the rail cars and flourish in the area, or because corn used to migrate from the nearby mill just south of the site, or perhaps because of the substance crops that rail-riding hobos grew in the immediately adjacent hillside. Other theories exist as well.
In 2001, the land was designated a state park. A coalition of community, environmental, and political activists – to name a few – worked to make that happen. Today, the acreage is formally known as the Los Angeles State Historic Park.
Soon after the completion of the Not A Cornfield art project harvest, artist Lauren Bon and her team are scheduled to vacate the property. Then, the California Sate Parks system will decide how next to proceed.
The State's current Concept Plan calls for construction to be complete in 2010; the resulting park would include interpretive trails, natural open space, cultural activities area, recreation open space, and garden open space.