New Digs for Dan the Miner

Carthay Circle Park Improvements

Dan the Miner is ensconced in new environs and for this he has many people to thank.  However, first among the not equals would have to be Carol Howard.

“If I see something that needs doing I’m on it,” she said.

“Carol was really on me,” said landscape architect Tom Gibson.  “She’s great.”

Dan is the longtime centerpiece of newly redone Carthay Circle Park at San Vicente Boulevard and McCarthy Vista. The pocket park was rededicated in February with new landscaping, irrigation and lighting that makes Dan visible at night.

Ms. Howard is a longtime Carthay Circle resident who has long been involved in several community projects.  Some years ago other residents expressed frustration at the fact that nothing was being done to improve the park.  “They reached out to me,” she said, and so she went to work.

Nothing had really been happening for 5 or 6 years.  “I was able to keep that fire under it,” Ms. Howard said.  “I can’t take all the credit,” she continued, but she “navigated it to fruition.”

Among those sharing the credit for this recent project are the Department of Recreation and Parks, Department of Water & Power (DWP), and the Mayor’s Hire program that provides summer youth employment. Interns from Cal Poly Pomona, and UCLA and USC Extension worked with the Recreation and Parks staff on design of the park, Gibson said.

“I’d been working with Carol for quite a while and there was just no funding,” said Gibson.  Then DWP eventually came through with funding and the Hire program provided labor.

Water conservation was key to the project that will save 243,000 gallons of water annually.  There is subsurface drip tubing and micro spray for the plantings that include drought tolerant plants, many of them native to the area.  The park had been covered by grass. There are also paths of decomposed granite and energy-efficient LED lighting.

All of these new features surround the two oldest features – a towering pine tree and of course Dan the Miner.  “I like to call it Carthay Miner’s park,” Ms. Howard said.

Dan has quite a history including creation by one of the city’s most noted public sculptors, Henry Lion, who also is responsible for the bronze doors at City Hall and the Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo statue in Cabrillo Beach Park in San Pedro.

Dan is a miner panning for gold who originally had water flowing from his pan into a pool that surrounded the rocks he stood on.  The statue, originally called “The Pioneer,” was unveiled in September of 1924.

It is the likeness of Daniel O’Connell McCarthy, an Irish immigrant who came to California in 1850 and briefly worked as a miner before starting a newspaper, getting involved in politics and business. It was his son, J. Harvey McCarthy, who developed Carthay Center.

Much would change around the statue – houses would come, the famed Carthay Circle Theater, site of the premiere of Gone With The Wind, would come and go.  Dan would remain, until 2008 when the 512-pound bronze statue was stolen.

The thieves sliced Dan in half and tried to sell the bronze as valuable scrap metal.  The police were alerted, the thieves arrested, and in January 2009 Dan was back home.

And now that home has been greatly improved.


Carole Howard (front left) and City Councilman Paul Koretz (center) were among those
helping to rededicate the new home for Dan the Miner (behind the councilman).