Amoeblog

Blow some my way -- Exploring Chesterfield Square

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 14, 2013 12:12pm | Post a Comment
Chesterfield Square signs
Chesterfield Square signs

INTRODUCTION
 TO CHESTERFIELD SQUARE

Chesterfield Square is without a doubt, one of Los Angeles’s most obscure neighborhoods. The obscurity is somewhat surprising given the neighborhood’s longstanding and dubious distinction of having the city’s and county’s highest violent crime rate. As a matter of fact, most of the Los Angeles’s most crime-ridden neighborhoods are rather obscure – communities like Compton, South Central, and Watts aren’t even in the top ten.

Divine protection
Divine protection

Although I don’t in any way wish to minimize the seriousness of crime, both visitors and residents of the neighborhood are more likely to be felled by heart disease, cancer, an accident or suicide than by violent criminals -- especially those who are not or don't appear to be affiliated with a gang. Furthermore, citywide violent crime rates for Los Angeles are the lowest they’ve been since 1966. It may be rough by Los Angeles standards but it's hardly San Pedro Sula. In other words, nothing bad is going to happen to you.

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Exposition Park gets a little parkier at the Natural History Museum's North Campus

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 29, 2012 05:48pm | Post a Comment

Natural History Museum Los Angeles County 1913 Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Map of South Los Angeles's Westside

The Natural History Museum and Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South LA's Westside


In one week I found myself heading to the Exposition Park neighborhood in South LA’s Westside to visit the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County – a stately structure built in 1913 with Romanesque and Beaux Arts elements that film and TV-viewers might recognize it from such films as A Lot Like Love, Bonfire of the Vanities, Buddy, Clean Slate, Continental Divide, Escape From the Planet of the Apes, Madhouse, Mame, No Place to Hide, Pretty Woman, The Monster Squad, Spencer’s Mountain, Spider-Man, The Three Trials and Two Minute Warning. It’s also appeared in episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, and How I Met Your Mother. On TV's Bones it’s the fictional Jeffersonian Institute.

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A brief (and by no means complete) history of Black Los Angeles. Happy Black History Month!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 30, 2012 07:19pm | Post a Comment
Los Angeles' black population is relatively small compared to the city's other major racial and ethnic minorities. The LA metro area is only 8.7% black as compared to 47% Latino (of any race), 28.7% non-Latino white, and 14% Asian/Pacific Islander. However, since its inception, black Angelenos have always played a major role in LA's history and culture. Los Angeles is one of the only major US cities founded largely by people of black African ancestry. When it was still a Spanish colony, Los Angeles began life as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles on 4 September, 1781 (well, sort of). Of the 44 pobladores who ventured over from nearby San Gabriel, a majority of 26 were identified as having African ancestry.

BLACKS IN MEXICAN AND EARLY AMERICAN LOS ANGELES

Pio Pico
Pio Pico ca. 1890

During the period that Los Angeles was part of Mexico (1821-1840), blacks were fairly integrated into society at all levels. Mexico abolished slavery much earlier than the US, in 1820. In 1831, Emanuel Victoria served as California's first black governor. Alta California's last governor, Pío de Jesus Pico, was also of mixed black ancestry. The US won the Mexican-American War and in 1850, California was admitted to the United States. Although one of America's so-called "free states," discriminatory legislation was quickly enacted to restrict and remove the civil rights of blacks, Chinese, and Native Americans. For example, blacks (and other minorities) couldn't testify in court against white people. 

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Let's show these fools how we do this on that westside - A South LA's Westside primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 29, 2011 08:54pm | Post a Comment
A TALE OF TWO WESTSIDES

Just as Los Angeles has two Eastsides (one being the largely Latino enclave east of the LA River and the other being South Los Angeles east of the 110 and/or Main St) it also has two Westsides. One Westside is a collection of LA's westernmost neighborhoods (such as Bel Air, Brentwood and Venice) and the area's enclosed cities (like Culver CitySanta Monica and Beverly Hills).

The other Westside is the area of South Los Angeles (and the surrounding communities) that lie west of the 110, south of the 10 and east and north of the 405 (although some of those are can make the historical argument for being part of the South Bay, despite being separated from the Santa Monica Bay by miles of land and other cities). This westside, after white flight in the 1950s to the present, is also colloquially known as "The Black Westside" and indeed, it's still, as of 2011, home to most of Los Angeles's black residents and businesses despite changing demographics.

Pendersleigh & Sons' Map of South LA's Westside
Pendersleigh & Sons' Map of South LA's Westside

The region of South LA's Westside is a large area bounded by South LA's Eastside to the east, The Harbor to the southeast, The South Bay to the west and south west, The Westside to the northwest and Midtown to the north. Definitions differ of exactly what communities constitute the region with several also claiming the South Bay and/or The Harbor. No doubt part of the reason these neighborhoods are in question are due to residents of and developers in those communities eager to disassociate themselves with South LA, which carries negative connotations for many.

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Gardena - The South Bay's City of Opportunity

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 8, 2010 01:00pm | Post a Comment
Street in Gardena
A typical street in Gardena with strong Japanese character

This here entry’s about Gardena. To vote for other Los Angeles County communities to be the subject of future entries, click here. To vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, click here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

Gardena Sign Map of South Los Angeles
                                                                                   Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of South Los Angeles

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