California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Longwood Highlands, a Neighborhood of Pride

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 20, 2010 01:17pm | Post a Comment

This installment of the Los Angeles neighborhood blog is about Longwood Highlands. To vote for a different Los Angeles neighborhood(s), click here. To vote for a Los Angeles County community, click here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

The romantically-named Longwood Highlands is a neighborhood in Los Angeles'  Midtown (Mid-Wilshire) area.

Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Midtown

The borders of Midtown neighborhoods are often hazily defined but Longwood Highlands seems to be hemmed in by West Olympic Boulevard to the north, South Rimpau Boulevard to the east, West Pico Boulevard (and maybe South San Vicente Boulevard) to the south, and South La Brea Avenue to the West.

Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Longwood Highlands

There is only one sign at the northeast corner of the neighborhood that I could locate so it’s difficult to be sure. However, if I’m correct in my assumptions then Longwood Highlands is neighbors with Brookside, Park Mile, Country Club Park, Miracle MileRedondo-SycamoreVictoria Park, Vineyard and Wilshire Highlands.

As with the rest of the Midtown area, what’s now Longwood Highlands was for centuries Tongva land until the arrival of the Spaniards. After the area passed from Mexico to the US, it remained primarily farmland until the 1890s, when surrounding areas began to develop. It wasn't until after the opening of the Port of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Aqueduct (in 1907 and 1913 respectively) that the formerly pastoral region was rapidly developed.

Most of the homes in the neighborhood were built in the 1920s in a variety of styles, often in the mock-Tudor and Spanish Colonial styles. The homes tend sit back fairly far from the streets on relatively large lots. Longwood Highlands is still a primarily a quiet, gently hilly residential neighborhood surrounded by loud, busy commercial corridors.

It’s a rather lush, green neighborhood, the streets of which are lined with mature magnolias, oaks and sycamores. The stately residences suggest that the neighborhood’s residents are rather well off. However, as I strolled along the quiet streets I was confronted with many greetings and smiles from the mostly black, Latino and white residents -- a dead giveaway that a neighborhood isn’t as posh as it first seems. In fact, closer examination reveals that nearly every home in the neighborhood is a duplex or, in fewer cases, a quadraplex. The varied and asymmetrical designs, however, give the impression that the multi-residence homes are single-family mansions. Thankfully, and in contrast to most of Los Angeles, there are no dingbats to be found.

There aren't a lot in the way of mom and pop eateries in the area… two donut places [Lee’s (aka Bee's) and Magee’s], El Burrito Jr, I Love Teriyaki and a BBQ place whose name I couldn't sort out. Rosemead's El Chato Taco Truck frequently posts up there too. Otherwise, mega-chains like Burger King, KFC and Starbucks are located along the neighborhood’s edge. Nearby to the west is Little Ethiopia, which is full of good eats. Along the southern edge of the neighborhood are a goodly number of auto shops.

Given the age, location and charm of the neighborhood, undoubtedly some early Hollywood figures lived in the neighborhood although my research turned up nothing. Raymond Chandler (creator of Philip Marlowe) lived in the area (among many others in the city) in 1929 somewhere along Highland.

However, the most impressive cinematic connection in Longwood Highlands is the presence of a life size model of Gort (the robot from The Day the Earth Stood Still), which stands in the window of Grey Goose Custom Picture Framing. I took a picture but it didn’t turn out. Luckily, the Grey Goose Gort is the favorite Los Angeles landmark of former Amoeba employee Will Keightly.


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Midtown (10), Mid-wilshire (5), Central Los Angeles (18), Los Angeles Neighborhoods (70), 1920s (23), Season 4 (30), California Fool's Gold (114)