In the 1800s, did a freed slave own much of downtown along what is now Broadway?

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Bridget “Biddy” Mason, who lived from 1818 to 1891, was indeed an early booster of downtown development. Brought from Georgia to California, where she was freed, Mason paid $250 saved from work as a midwife for a parcel of land between 3rd and 4th streets and bounded by Spring on the east and an alley along Broadway on the west. In the 25 years she owned the property, L.A.’s population increased tenfold, and the neighborhood of single-story residences, stables, and open space grew into a Victorian-style boomtown. Today you’ll find a courtyard named for Mason, along with a time line of her life, sandwiched between a parking garage and a McDonald’s.