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25th Anniversary Issue

Current 25: Cisneros’ pink elephant Fiesta

1991-1995

The dream was of a new Westside replacing blocks of slum housing with a vibrant tourist-oriented mall, new hotels and office buildings, and a complex of high-tech manufacturing. In the mid-1980s, then-Mayor Henry Cisneros could speak of his vision of one-time Westside welfare mothers with well-paying jobs assembling computers. For a time, it seemed in reach. There was the new Fiesta Plaza Mall, a new Business and Technology Center “incubator” for small businesses, and new plants for the computer manufacturer Control Data Corporation and its hard drive subsidiary.

By the time the Los Angeles Times visited Fiesta Plaza and Vista Verde in 1992, the headline read “A ‘Pink Elephant’ Cisneros Can’t Forget.” The Control Data plants were turned into the Frank Wing Municipal Courthouse and the Central Police Substation. The Business and Technology Center now belongs to UTSA. And the “Pink Elephant” — named for its shocking pink paint job — was finally demolished after failing miserably as a retail complex. It is now the site of UTSA’s Downtown Campus. So much for dreams.

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