A Look Back at the Depeche Mode Riots

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 11, 2015 07:43pm | Post a Comment

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Watts Riots (or Watts Rebellion, depending on your point of view). In that riot, 3,438 Anglenos were arrested, 1,032 were injured, and 34 died. This year (but not today) is also the 25th anniversary of another, less serious uprising, the Depeche Mode Riots, in which five people were treated for injuries.


Southern California has hosted its share of riots; there was the San Gabriel Mission Riot in 1785, the Chinese Massacre of 1871, the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943, the Cooper Do-nuts Uprising of 1959, the Sunset Strip Curfew Riots of 1966, the Black Cat Riot of 1967, the Huntington Beach Surf Riot of 1986, the Los Angeles Riots of 1992, the San Bernardino Punk Riot of 2006, the Anaheim Riots of 2012, and the another Huntington Beach Surf Riot in 2013. Some (most) were exacerbated by the authorities, and several were fueled by civil rights aspirations and/or racism. Only one that I know of was fueled by hormones, Anglophila, and ARP-2600s.

In most of the USDepeche Mode were known only as that band who sang “People are People.” 1987’s Music for the Masses only reached no. 35 on the pop charts and of its four singles, non troubled the Top 40. In Southern California, however, Depeche Mode and Music for the Masses were massive and on the final performance of that album's tour they played to an audience of 60,000 fans at the Pasadena Rose Bowl -- there biggest concert ever. The event formed the centerpiece of 101, a concert film by cinéma direct pioneer DA Pennebaker.

Depeche Mode’s follow-up, Violator, was eagerly anticipated by fans who waited three years for its release. The electro-glam single “Personal Jesus” provided a tease when released in 1989 and singlehandedly gave birth to the schaffel subgenere. It cracked the Top 40 which meant Casey Kasem and Rick Dees were obligated to play it on their chart shows, which in turn meant even kids in the heartland heard it emanating from the speakers on their school buses. 

Enjoy the Silence” reached no. 8 in the charts, at that point their highest placing yet. The stylish Anton Corbijn-directed music video was duly played on syndicated Saturday morning video shows and suddenly Depeche Mode were familiar to anyone under 30. I remember a troglodyte stand-up having a bit about how wimpy (gasp!) and pale (the horror!) they were… and probably something to about how music made on electronic rather than electric music isn’t “real” (a surprisingly common view among idiots of the day). Just don’t refer to their music as “progressive techno-pop.”

Violator was released on 20 March 1990. I bought a copy on compact disc from a music store in the Columbia Mall. I heard about the Depeche Mode riots was from a syndicated tabloid “news” show — probably either A Current Affair or Hard Copy. I remember the subtext of the report was along the lines of “How is it possible that so many kids are rioting over a band that I, a journalist, have never heard of?”

The the newscasters’ discredit, though, they probably would’ve had the same reaction had the band in question been U2, INXS, or R.E.M., but none of those stadium filling bands of the era were English and in Anglophile California there weren't just Depeche Mode fanatics but Depeche Mode clones like Cause & Effect and Red Flag. The band's sartorial style, too, was suddenly similar to that of the local “rebel” subculture which was the subject of a series of typically exploitive/concerned Chris Blatchford exposés for Fox Undercover.

Depeche Mode were scheduled to do an in-store signing at the Wherehouse on La Cienega in Beverly Grove, to promote the new album and sign autographs. Fans came from other states and in some cases camped out for four days in oder to catch a glimpse of the band. By the 20th, the line was three kilometers long and contained as many as 17,000 hard core fans. 

After 90 minutes, the LAPD shut down the event out of safety concerns. The boys from Basildon escaped out the back entrance, and hundreds of mounted riot police and police helicopters tried to maintain control. The stores windows were smashed and all hell broke loose. Aside from the five injuries, most of the wounds were of merely disappointment -- something the band and KROQ tried to soothe by giving away a free promotional cassette of an interview conducted by Richard Blade b/w a remix of “Something to Do.”

SEE ALSO: California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Watts, The Cooper Do-Nuts Uprising, and No Enclave -- Exploring English Los Angeles


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California Fool's Gold -- A Westside Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 18, 2011 09:46pm | Post a Comment

A view of the Westside from my dirigible

Around the world, the mere mention of the word "Westside" prompts people to throw up a "W" hand sign, in imitation of many west coast and west coast-affiliated (Tupac was, after all, a native of East Harlem) pop-rappers of the 1990s (to his credit, Snoop Dogg has always repped his Eastside, as does Compton Eastsider The Game). Within LA, the Westside refers to a wealthy, largely white region of the county (or alternately to South LA's Westside to much of LA's black population). It is bordered by the Santa Monica Mountains region to the northwest, the Pacific Ocean to the West, the South Bay to the south, the aforementioned South LA westside to the southeast, and Midtown and Hollywood to the east.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Official Map of the Westside

Though the Westside is one of LA's whitest regions, it's still only 63% white with a high degree of ethnic (for those who can accept the radical notion that white people have ethnicities too) variety and origins including large numbers of Canadian, English, German, Iranian, Irish, Israelis, Polish, Russian, South African and Spanish-descended Americans. The remainder of the populate is 16% Latino, 12% Asian and 5% black. It's also known for its wealth - Bel-Air, Beverly Hills and Holmby Hills (in Hollywood's Hollywood Hills) make up the ostentatiously-named Platinum Triangle.

It's often said around the city that "Westsiders are different." They're often recognizable in their "Ugh" boots, conspicuous consumption, creepy fake tans and propensity for erroneously referring to Mideast side neighborhoods like Echo Park and Silver Lake as "The Eastside" whilst "slumming it" at a dive bar full of other Westsiders in the Mideast Side (but rarely if ever venturing east of the LA River to the actual Eastside). For these reasons, Westsiders are commonly stereotyped as shallow, clueless, celebrity-obsessed, label-whoring, FOBy, tasteless, uneducated, culture-less, blue-blooded toffs.. As with most stereotypes, especially Angeleno ones, the reality is much more interesting.

The Westside is home to two unique ethnic enclaves, Little Osaka and Tehrangeles. It's the primary destination for those in search of delicious Brazilian, British, Indonesian, Jewish and Persian cuisine. It's home to several great revival theaters including The Aero, The Nuart and The Silent Movie Theater as well as many of LA's best museums. So I say to both ironic Westside-claiming wankstas and Eastside snobs alike, free your ass and your mind will follow.

And now for the neighborhoods:


The modest Bel Air home of the Beverly Hillbillies

The Fresh Prince's exhortation, "Yo holmes, to Bel Air!" on TV's The Fresh Prince of Bel Air introduced many NBC viewers to another posh westside community synonymous with affluence on par with Beverly Hills and Brentwood although its median household income is much higher than both of them. In fact, the Beverly Hillbillies' mansion is located in Bel Air. Part of its obscene opulence is preserved by a ban on multifamily housing. It includes the smaller neighborhoods of East Gate Old Bel Air, West Gate Bel Air and Upper Bel Air. It's also home to The UCLA Hannah Carter Japanese Garden. The population is 83% white (mostly Persian, Russian and South African), 9% Asian and 5% Latino.


The Beverly Crest neighborhood sign

Beverly Crest is located in the southern face of the Santa Monica Mountains between Beverly Hills and Sherman Oaks. It's home of the large Franklin Canyon Park and the Stone Canyon Reservoir. The mostly residential neighborhood's population is 88% white (mostly Russian, Persian and British) and 4% Asian.


Canters Restaurant

Beverly Grove is a newly designated Los Angeles neighborhood that's often lumped in with the Fairfax District that it borders (and is still commonly felt to be part of by longtime residents who in most cases don't seem to be fans of Rick Caruso). Indeed, as the home of the Silent Movie Theater and Canter's Deli, it's an intrinsic part of the so-called Kosher Canyon, Fairfax Boulevard. It's also home to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and realtors often refer to it as "Beverly Hills Adjacent." 


Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills

Beverly Hills has long been, in the popular conscience, synonymous with wealth, a view perpetuated by its many appearances in film and TV including Beverly Hillbillies, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Slums of Beverly Hills, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Beverly Hills Ninja, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Beverly Hills Cop and Beverly Hills 90201 (to name a few). So symbolic is its name that other neighborhoods often employ it nicknames to reflect their own wealth, including the "Black Beverly Hills" (Baldwin Hills), the "Chicano Beverly Hills" (Hacienda Heights), the "Chinese Beverly Hills" (Monterey Park) as well as the Beverly Hills of Arizona, Las Vegas, England, Dubai, Mexico, The South, Chiwawa, Sydney, Singapore, Cewu and on and on. The population is 82% white (mostly Persian and Russian), 8% Asian (mostly Korean) and 5% Latino.


A scene in Beverlywood

Largely residential Beverlywood is one of the main centers of Jewish residential life in Los Angeles. The population 80% white (Russian, Polish, Persian, Israeli), 7% Asian, 6% Latino and 4% black. It's population is the wealthier than the better known symbol of wealth, Beverly Hills, (and Beverly Grove), but not as wealthy as Beverly Crest - the wealthiest of the Beverlies.



Now famous for its mostly wealthy residents, Brentwood was originally known for its avocado and soybean fields. It gained a higher profile and unwanted notoriety in 1994 when Nicole Brown Simpson, ex-wife of American Footballer/occasional actor OJ Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman were found stabbed to death outside her condo in a crime that was never solved. The population is 84% white (Russian, German, Persian and British), 7% Asian and 5% Latino.


Century City at night

Century City was formerly a western backlot for 20th Century Fox. After a series of box office bombs, most notably Cleopatra, the studio sold 0.73 km2 of their property to developer William Zeckendorf and the Aluminum Co. of America, (Alcoa). The new Century City, its name a nod to it's former owners, was reimagined as a "city within a city." The first building, Century City Gateway West, was erected in 1963 followed by Minoru Yamasaki's Century Plaza Hotel -- two of the first skyscrapers erected in the area after the lifting of earthquake-related height restrictions. Today it's mainly a business center with numerous law firms and entertainment industry offices. The small population of around 6,000 residents is 83% white (mostly Russian, Persian and Canadian), 9% Asian and 4% Latino.


The Ropers in front of their Cheviot Hills residence (maybe)

Tiny Cheviot Hills is dominated by residences and Cheviot Hills Park -- the latter which includes the Cheviot Hills Recreation Center and the Cheviot Hills Tennis Courts. The population is 79% white (Russian and German), 9% Asian (mostly Japanese) and 8% Latino (mostly Mexican). It served as the location for the short-lived Three's Company spin-off The Ropers.


Crestview is a neighborhood bounded by is bounded by La Cienega, Robertson, Sawyer and Pickford. Though mostly residential, it's also home to the Foods of Nature, La Cienega Grill CafeSt. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church, Seedling Organic CateringSikh Dharma, and the shopping center, La Cienega Plaza.


Downtown Culver City

Since the 1920s, Culver City has been a significant center for motion picture and later television production -- it was formerly home of MGM Studios.  National Public RadioWest and Sony Pictures now have headquarters in the city. The population is 48% white (German), 24% Latino (Mexican), 12% Asian (mostly Filipino) and 11% black. To read more about Culver City, click here.


Pretty self explanatory

Del Rey, situated on the banks of Ballona Creek, takes its name from the nearby Del Rey salt marshes. Del Rey is a largely residential area of 1950s single-story California bungalows. Del Rey has a notable but small Japanese-American population that moved to the area after the end of WWII internment as well as from Hawaii during the 1950s. Today it's 44% Latino (mostly Mexican), 34% white (mostly German), 14% Asian (mostly Filipino) and 4% black.

The neighborhood centered around Cadillac Avenue and Corning Street (roughly bounded by Culver City to the south, S La Cienega Boulevard to the east, Sawyer Street to the north, and S Robertson to the west), is known as La Cienega Heights. It's home to The Acrylic Museum, Bagel Factory, and Reynier Park.


A view of Ladera Heights - NB: gas prices may not be current

When Frank Robinson and other notable black sports heroes began moving to Ladera Heights in the 1970s, many other affluent blacks integrated into the neighborhood, which is adjacent to one of the wealthier parts of South LA, Baldwin Hills. In the early 1980s, the neighborhood became a mecca for wealthy black families, a rarity for the Westside. Today, even with LA's black population declining dramatically, the neighborhood is still 71% black (mostly West African and Trinidadian) and 19% white (mostly English, German and Canadian).


An uncommonly calm street scene in Little Osaka

Little Osaka (小大阪) is a small district centered along Sawtelle Boulevard between Nebraska and Tennesee in the Sawtelle neighborhood of Los Angeles. In the 1920s and 30s, what's now Little Osaka was dominated by Japanese-owned nurseries. By 1941, there were 26 nurseries in the area. When Japanese-Americans were unjustly interred during World War II, the neighborhood went into decline. Today it retains a diminished but strong Japanese character (including several nurseries) and is a J-Town favored by trendy Japanese, foodies, otaku, hentai and nipponophiles. To read more, click here.


The view from atop Mar Vista Hill

Mar Vista is a westside neighborhood that includes the smaller neighborhoods of Westdale, Mar Vista Hill, the Gregory Ain Mar Vista Tract, McLaughlin and Culver West. The residents of Mar Vista are approximately 51% White (mostly Germanic), 29% Latino (mostly Mexican with a large number of Oaxaqueños in particular) and 13% Asian (mostly Korean). To read more about Mar Vista, click here.


Fisherman's Village in Marina del Rey

Marina del Rey is dominated by the Fisherman's Village boat harbor, which has nineteen marinas and room for 5,300 boats. The area was originally a salt marsh formed by Ballona Creek's flow into Santa Monica Bay. The population is 78% white (mostly English, German and Persian), 8% Asian (mostly Japanese), 5% Latino and 5% black.


The Eames House 

Pacific Palisades stands out even in the mostly-white Westside with a population that's 89% white (mostly English, German, Persian and Canadian) and 6% Asian, making it the least racially, if not ethnically, communities in the Westside. It's population is generally quite wealthy and residential. Some of the most noteworthy homes include the Eames House and the Getty Villa. It was repped by Tom Hanks's rapping son, Chet Haze, in his song "West Side LA" (from whence the title of this blog entry is derived).


A view of my favorite Palms parking lot 

Palms was founded as its own community in 1886 and annexed by LA in 1915. Palms is fairly atypical for the Westside with a population that's both working class and very ethnically diverse -- 38% white (mostly Irish), 23% Latino (mostly Mexican), 20% Asian (mostly Korean) and 12% black. It's even home to multiple Brazilian and Indonesian restaurants. It's also home of the great Museum of Jurassic Technology


A view of Playa Vista from the Ballona Wetlands

Between Playa Vista and the Santa Monica Bay lie the Ballona Wetlands. The neighborhood lies at the foot of the Westchester Bluffs that was once a sacred Tongva burial ground. Long after the Tongva themselves were removed, their ancestors' remains were uncovered during development and relocated as well. Today the population is 35% Latino (mostly Mexican and Guatemalan), 32% white, 21% Asian (mostly Japanese) and 5% black.


The intersection of Pico and Robertson... in Pico-Robertson

Pico-Robertson is today the heart of LA's Jewish community. The population is 74% white (mostly Persian, Russian and Israeli), 7% Latino, 6% Asian 6% black. It is home to more than 30 kosher restaurants including not just Jewish food, but kosher Chinese, Italian, Mexican and more. It's also home to the largest women's mikvah in LA as well as four men's mikvahs and several Jewish schools. It's sometimes referred to as "South Robertson" which has given rise to the Scooby-Doo-sounding "SoRo Rillage," I mean, "SoRo Village."


Rancho Park

Tiny Rancho Park was named by Bill Heyler, a real estate broker who established his office in the area in 1927. The population is 58% white (mostly German and Persian), 18% Asian, 16% Latino (mostly Mexican), 4% black. Its northwest corner, the intersection of Pico and Sepulveda, was the subject of a song, "Pico and Sepulveda," made popular in 1947 by Freddy Martin and his orchestra using the pseudonym, "Felix Figueroa."


The Santa Monica Pier with downtown Santa Monica in the background

Sunny, coastal Santa Monica is the world's number one destination for British expats, who flock to the un-England like city by the thousands and turn into rosy red lobsters. The population is 71% white (mostly English and Persian), 14% Latino (mostly Mexican), 7% Asian and 4% black. Known as a haven for rich lefties, it's nicknamed the People's Republic of Santa Monica. It was also the first city in California with a Green mayor… and it was the setting for TV's Three's Company.


A typical Sawtelle home with Japanese-inspired landscaping

Sawtelle was formerly recognized for its large Japanese-American population. After the forced internment of all Japanese, it lost most of that character although landscaping and sites here and there still reflect its Japanese past -- nowhere more so than in the tiny Japanese shopping district of Little Osaka which is also home to several nurseries and eateries. However, today Sawtelle's population is 50% white (mostly Persian), 23% Latino (mostly Mexican) and 20% Asian.


A row of Tehrangeles stores with signs in Farsi

Tehrangeles is a small neighborhood along Westwood Boulevard that straddles Westwood and West LA. It's portmanteau name is a reflection of the many Persian-owned and targeted businesses along the commercial corridor as well as the large Persian residential population in the surrounding area.


Downtown Venice

Venice is a coastal neighborhood (and former municipality) famous for its canals, Muscle Beach, Venice Beach and Ocean Front Walk  -- "the Boardwalk." Originally designed to attract tourists, it later became famous for its Bohemian music and arts scene. To read more, click here.


West Hollywood's Sunset Strip at night

I know some people will take issue with my inclusion of WeHo with the Westside. Well the Beverly Hills adjacent city has to fit in somewhere and it feels a lot more Westside to me than the Hollywood region (which, unlike West Hollywood, is all part of Los Angeles). With a population that's 81% white (mostly Russian, German and Ukrainian), 9% Latino, 4% Asian and 3% Black it also looks like the rest of the Westside. It's also where the Sunset Strip begins, home to many famous venues including The House of Blues, The Key Club, The Viper Room, The Roxy, The Whiskey A Go Go… and The Troubadour just a few blocks south on Santa Monica Blvd.


A typical day in West LA

West LA, despite sounding like a large district of Los Angeles, is actually an officially recognized designation for a Westside neighborhood. The population is 77% white (mostly Persian, Russian and English), 11% Asian, 5% Latino. The large Jewish population is reflected in the restaurants. It's also home to Lazer Blazer, which rivals even mighty Amoeba with its selection of Blu-Rays, DVDs and yes, Laser Discs.


One of Westside Village's tree-lined streets

Westside Village is a small neighborhood that's sometimes claimed by Mar Vista and sometimes by Palms. It's home to one of the first housing tracts, developed in the 1930s and '40s by Fritz B. Burns.


Westwood with the so-called Millionaire's Mile in the background

Westwood is a neighborhood best known for being the home of UCLA. As such, it's also one of LA County's primary cultural centers with sites like Royce Hall, the Armand Hammer Museum, The Fowler Museum and numerous significant theaters. It also includes most of the small Tehrangeles neighborhood within it's borders. The population is 63% white (mostly Persian and Russian), 23% Asian (mostly Taiwanese), 7% Latino and 2% black.

And so Westside riders, to vote for any Westside communities... or any other Los Angeles County communities to be covered on the blog, vote here. To vote for Westside (or and other Los Angeles neighborhoods), click here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here. Westsiiiiiiiide!


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California Fool's Gold -- A Midtown Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 14, 2011 07:00pm | Post a Comment

A detail of Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of LA County showing Midtown's location

Midtown is a small but bustling area of Los Angeles surrounded by the larger regions of Hollywood to the north, the Westside to the west, South LA to the south and the Mideast side to the east. As the crossroads of Los Angeles' population, the once whites-only region has long been one of its most ethnically and economically diverse areas, not only home to the largely Jewish Fairfax District and the ethnic enclaves of Koreatown and Little Bangladesh; it's also LA's only African-American enclave, Little Ethiopia.

Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Midtown

The loosely-defined districts within Midtown include the areas of Mid-City, Mid-City West, Mid-Wilshire and Wilshire Center. Within them are numerous and distinct neighborhoods of varying sizes and character that collectively define Midtown's diverse nature. Sometimes Midtown is referred to as Wilshire, after Henry Gaylord Wilshire, the father of Midtown.


Wilshire, or "Gaylord" as he was known to most, was a developer/gold miner/farmer/socialist/publisher from Ohio. In the 1895, he carved Wilshire Boulevard across his barley field and made plans for development. At that time, Midtown was primarily agricultural although oil drilling had begun at the end of the 19th century. Wilshire remained unpaved west of Western until the 1920s, when developer AW Ross developed Wilshire Boulevard with a vision of a commercial corridor instead of district, targeted toward car operators rather than pedestrians -- a concept that architectural critic Reyner Banham called "the linear downtown."


After World War II, the lure of the suburbs slowly sucked out many of Midtown's residents. Some of the older, wealthier neighborhoods subsequently became home to up-and-coming black and Jewish families in the middle part of the century. However, in the 1970s, Downtown LA's Bunker Hill neighborhood was redeveloped as the premier commercial district of LA and many Midtown businesses relocated or floundered as a result.


The first Korean business, Olympic Market, had opened there in 1969.  After draconian measures were undertaken by South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee in 1972, around 70,000 Koreans re-settled in Wilshire Center. The 1992 riots were a setback, especially for Korean-American Angelenos, with 40% of looted businesses being Korean-owned.

Nowadays Midtown has largely recovered although still a region of contrasts. The eastern portion is home to high-rise apartments and one of the most densely populated areas of the Southland. The western portion tends to be comprised of single family homes with fairly large yards. It's one of the premier arts scenes as well, home to many galleries and several famed museums. There are great places to see movies like the CGV Cinemas and the Korean Cultural Center of Los Angeles. It also includes historic music venues including El Rey and the Wiltern. Though until recently beautiful and important structures were knocked down with regularity, today many of the architectural treasures are now protected. Now if only they could do something about the traffic!

now on to the neighborhoods…


Arlington Heights is a primarily residential neighborhood, mostly located within the larger Historic West Adams District whose residents are 57% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 25% black, 13% Asian (mostly Korean) and 5% white. Within its borders are several auto shops and bakeries as well as the Washington Irving Library and a pocket park. It's also home to the well-known Jewel's Catch One which opened in 1972 as the nation's first gay black disco


Beverly Grove is located in the northern corner of Midtown and is often lumped in with the Fairfax District that it borders. It's home to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and people often offer alternative monikers for it including Beverly Hills Adjacent, Beverly-Fairfax, and Fairfax-Melrose although all are as subjective (and incorrect) as the next. It's Beverly Grove: learn it, live it, love it!


Brookside is a tiny residential enclave of just 400 homes, developed by the Rimpau Estate Company in 1920 as Windsor Crest (or Wilshire Crest, according to fewer sources). An economic slowdown in 1921 slowed down sales of the mostly-Colonial Revivals (and one Moorish and Scottish-influenced castle - The Chateau LeMoine) set on large lots and it became known as South Brookside (and later just Brookside) for the Arroyo de los Jardin de las Flores that runs through it. Since the 1930s, the privately-owned Brookledge Theater, located in the back of a home, has hosted magicians for entertainment. There's also an annual potluck with a petting zoo and carnival games.


Carthay Circle was developed in 1922, J. Harvey McCarthy as Carthay Center. Its most famous landmark was the Carthay Circle Theatre, from which the trapezoidal neighborhood takes its misleading name. The theater was built in 1926 in the Spanish Baroque style, a 1500-seat-theater designed by A Dwight Gibbs. The last performance was of The Shoes of the Fisherman in 1968. It was later demolished. Nowadays Carthay Circle is part of an Historic Preservation Overlay Zone.


Carthay Square was developed in 1933 by Spyros George Ponty, alongside the larger, adjacent South Carthay. It's primarily made up of two-and-three-family apartments with a couple of restaurants along the southern edge and the Little Ethiopia commercial district along it's eastern one.


From 1899 to 1905, the area that now makes up Country Club Park was home to the 1 km2 Los Angeles Country Club. After it moved, Isaac Milbank's Country Club Park Real Estate Company subdivided the area for residential development. Although originally whites-only, after the racist restrictive housing codes were abolished, it attracted many upwardly-mobile blacks including celebrities like  Hattie McDaniel, Mahalia Jackson, Lou Rawls, Lena Horne, Celes King of the Tuskeegee Airman and many others.


Faircrest Heights is a mostly residential neighborhood bounded by Pico Boulevard on the north, Fairfax Avenue on the east, Venice Boulevard on the south, and La Cienega Boulevard on the west. Most of the homes were built in the late 1930s and early '40s. As of the 2010 census its population was 52% black, 26% white, and 20% Latino. In 2004, Los Angeles Magazine named it one of the "10 Best Neighborhoods You've Never Heard Of". In 2013, Redfin listed it as the third most "up-and-comping" neighborhoods in the entire state.

One of its chief attractions is the Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies (LACES) Recreation Center. Other attractions include Ciccero's Pizza, Hoagies and Wings, Hollywood Pies, The Mint, and Penguin Fish & Chips. 


Its series of nicknames, including Bagel District and Kosher Canyon, reflex the long-established Jewish character of the Fairfax District. Many Jews have since moved west and today the population is 85% white (Russian, Irish and Ukranian), 6% Latino (Mexican), 5% Asian. It's also home to The GroveThe Original Farmers' Market, CBS Television City and many Jewish organizations. The area immediately around Fairfax Avenue is known as Fairfax Village. To read more about Fairfax, click here.


Hancock Park is an upscale Midtown neighborhood developed in the 1920s by the Hancock family, who'd previously made a fortune from oil drilling. It was subdivided by George Allan Hancock who inherited the land (which included the La Brea tar pits) from his father, Major Henry Hancock. The population today is 71% white (mostly Irish and Russian), 13% Asian (mostly Korean and Filipino), 9% Latino and 4% black. It was at one time home to Nat King Cole, although his home was later seized by the FBI over unpaid income taxes (pictured above).


Harvard Heights is another Midtown neighborhood largely protected by its being within an HPOZ (that also includes part of West Adams Heights and Westmoreland Heights). Its historical architectural significance is in large part due to the many California Craftsmans built primarily in the first decade of the 20th century. It's also home to Southern California's oldest school, Loyola High. The population is roughly 66% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 16% black and 13% Asian.


Los Angeles is home to the largest population of Koreans and our Koreatown destroys the competition… and if that weren't enough, the OC has Little Seoul. Like many ethnic enclaves in LA, Koreatown is largely a Korean commercial district, although there are many newly-arrived and mostly poor Koreans living in the neighborhood… joining a population that's largely poor and mostly Latino. When Koreatown was officially designated in 1980, Koreatown was limited to Olympic Boulevard. However, as the Korean population and businesses have poured out in all directions, definitions have grown to include all of Wilshire Center and parts of neighboring districts, and not without controversy. To read more about Koreatown, click here.


Lafayette Square is a small, semi-gated neighborhood named after Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette consisting of eight blocks and centered around St Charles Place. Situated between Venice Boulevard and Washington Boulevard, its another of that part of Midtown's wealthy, black majority neighborhoods. It was developed in 1913 by George L. Crenshaw. In 1952, famed architect Paul R. Williams built a home for his family there (pictured above).


Larchmont is centered on tree-lined Larchmont Boulevard between Beverly Boulevard and 3rd Street - a portion known to many as Larchmont Village. A streetcar went up and down the boulevard until the 1940s and it, indeed, has a nice, village feel. It got a little less nice and a little less village-y when Village Pizza left for Yucca Corridor. It's still home to, and perhaps dominated by, the large Wilshire Country Club. Today the population of the neighborhood is 37% Latino (mostly Mexican and Guatemalan), 30% Asian (mostly Korean) and 25% white.


Little Bangladesh is centered around a short stretch of 3rd Street between Wilton on the west and Vermont on the east.  In the 1960s, many Bangladeshis came to the US on student visas and many chose to live in the northern portion of Wilshire Center for its cheap rents and its close proximity to LACC. After the Bangladeshi Liberation War broke out in March of 1971, there was one more reason to relocate. That same year the Los Angeles Bangladesh Association was created. To read more about Little Bangladesh, click here.


Although city signs indicate that it's official length is longer, Little Ethiopia is in reality a one block stretch along Fairfax between Olympic and Whitworth in the Carthay area. The smallest of the Southland's many ethnic enclaves it's also the only African-American one. It exists primarily as an Ethiopian commercial district as not many Ethiopians live in the area. To read more about Little Ethiopia, click here.


The romantically-named Longwood Highlands is a neighborhood in the Mid-Wilshire area. It’s a rather lush, green neighborhood, the streets of which are lined with mature magnolias, oaks and sycamores. A large number of the residences in the neighborhood are duplexes or, in fewer cases, quadraplexes. As I walked through the neighborhood, I was greeted by a diverse group of strangers, suggesting it might be more affordable than it's posh appearance suggests. To read more, click here


St. Elmo's Village (image source: Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles)
Although the term "Mid-City" is often used as a term for the larger midtown area, in its more specific use it refers to a neighborhood roughly bounded by Pico, Crenshaw, the 10 and Robertson. Historically largely black, it's the home of the well-known Nate Holden Performing Arts Center (home of the Ebony Repertory Theater Company), the Ray Charles Post Office, and the inspiring St. Elmo's Village, founded by two men from Missouri. Today the population is 45% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 38% black, 10% white and 4% Asian.


The Miracle Mile is a part of Mid-Wilshire that's also considered to be both its own larger district as well as a smaller, better defined neighborhood. Designed as a commercial district to rival downtown Los Angeles, there are a preponderance of commercial spaces often dating back to the 1960s. Due to the presence of museums, commercial high rises and high-density residences, it remains a vital neighborhood with a population that's approximately 34% white, 23% black, 20% Latino (mostly Mexican) and 20% Asian (mostly Korean).


Normally an "Olympic Park" refers to an accommodation built for the Olympic Games. In the case of LA's Olympic Park, however, it's a small Mid-Wilshire neighborhood bound by Pico to the south, Rimpau to the west, Olympic to the north and Crenshaw to the east. There is no entry on it in Wikipedia or the LA Times Mapping Project… oh well! It's also home of the Queen Anne Recreation Center.


Emil Firth’s Oxford Square Tract was subdivided in 1907. Originally the large subdivision stretched from Pico Boulevard to Francis Avenue on Windsor Boulevard and Victoria Avenue and included Windsor Village. Ironically, Firth was Jewish but even so, Jews were restricted from living in Oxford Square by racist, restrictive deeds at its inception.


Park La Brea is a unique Mid-Wilshire/Miracle Mile neighborhood comprised of more than 4,000 apartments built between 1944 and 1948, a time when development was dominated by single family homes. Due to their passing aesthetic similarity to Bronzeville, Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes and Queens's Queensbridge housing developments; Park La Brea was quickly nicknamed "The Projects." However, the inspiration was the innovative architecture of Le Corbusier and the streets are laid out in a Masonic pattern as a reference to the masonic heritage of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.


Park Mile is the eastern counterpart to neighboring Miracle Mile to the west. It refers to a stretch of Mid-Wilshire area and between Rimpau and Crenshaw to the east. There's also no entry for it in Wikipedia or the LA Times' Mapping Project. However, it's a culturally significant neighborhood that's home to the Ebell of Los Angeles, Helios Productions, La High Memorial Park and No. 1 Video as well as numerous auto shops and burger joints.


Pico del Mar is another obscure corner of Midtown, in this case bounded by La Brea to the east, Venice to the south, Cochran to the west and Pico to the north. It's home to the long popular black stand-up comedy venue, The Comedy Union. It's also home to several "soul food" establishments, including Chef Marilyn Soul Food Express and a location of Roscoe's House of Chicken. Although the original location is gone, it's home to one of the two locations of Oki Dog - famed in the LA punk scene. 


Pico Park is a tiny Mid-Wilshire neighborhood made up mostly of homes although (as with most of Midtown) home to a number of auto shops and Mexican restaurants. Maybe there was a park there once… but not now. In fact, however, there is a park named Pico Park  but it's in Pico Rivera. It is home to Saturn Street School, which sounds pretty amazing.


 "Picfair" refers to the corner of Pico and Fairfax. It was formerly the site of the Art Deco Picfair Theater, owned and operated in the 1940s by Joseph Moritz. It later became part of a four theater booking known as the Academy of Proven Hits, which played reissues that were in most cases Oscar winners. The theater was managed by James H. Nicholson prior to his forming American Releasing Corporation, which later became American International Pictures. Sadly, it was destroyed during the LA Riots of '92. 


Redondo-Sycamore is a Mid-Wilshire neighborhood named after two parallel streets within its boundaries. It also, like many mostly residential Midtown neighborhoods, has lots of auto body shops.


Although the name suggests a Scottish-American enclave, there are few, if any, Scottish-Americans in St. Andrews Square. The population of 3,579 people is, in fact, 40% Asian (mostly Korean and Filipino), 31% Latino (mostly Mexican and Guatemaltan) and 22% white (mostly German). It is traversed and presumably named after St Andrews Place, which bisects it. 


South Carthay is the main part of the southerly Carthay development begun in 1933. In the 1980s, South Carthay was designated for preservation in Los Angeles' Historic Preservation Overlay Zone program. It's number to several Jewish organizations as well as a Coptic Church

Sycamore Square is yet another Midtown neighborhood neglected by Wikipedia or LA Times Mapping LA entry. In its case its south of Hancock Park, west of Brookside and east of Miracle Mile. Despite its low profile it's officially represented by Sycamore Square Association, whose efforts led to official designation earlier this year. 


Victoria Park is a semi-gated Mid-City neighborhood West of Crenshaw, south of Pico, north of Venice and East of West. Its center is a loop formed by Victoria Park Drive and Victoria Park Place. Established in 1908, the Victoria Park neighborhood is one of only two neighborhoods in the entire city of Los Angeles where the homes are arranged on a circular street. Many of the homes serve as fine architectural examples of the American Arts and Crafts Movement. Along its outer edge there are several auto shops and a handful of restaurants. Although it's semi-gated and the pedestrian entrances have dumb, permanently locked chain-link gates, they're easily-hopped allowing Angelenos a chance to check out the neighborhood the predates the fences by about 90 years.

The boundaries of Vineyard are tough to pin down but it seems to be North of Venice, west of west, south of Pico and San Vicente and east of La Brea. Ballona Creek rises in its low hills and goes on to flow nine miles to the Pacific. Historically it was important as a transportation hub of the Pacific Electric trolley car lines. In 1913, the Vineyard Junction tragedy involved a trolley collision that killed fourteen and injured over 200. 


We-Wil is nicknamed after the intersection of Western and Wishire. It's home to CGV Cinemas, a new movie theater that primarily screens Hollywood blockbusters and Korean films. It's also home to the LA Institute of Architecture & Design and several restaurants -- mostly Korean. 


Wellington Square is hemmed in by the 10 to the south, Crenshaw to the east, Washington to the north and West to the west. It is presumably named after Wellington Road which bisects it. It's almost entirely residential with a car wash and gas station (separate). Wellington is the capital of New Zealand. It's a proposed HPOZ and hosts a farmers' market.


West Adams Heights is a small neighborhood in the Historic West Adams District, mostly surrounded by Harvard Heights. By the 1950s, most of the white population had left and many affluent blacks moved their and it became known, colloquially, as "Sugar Hill," after the posh Harlem neighborhood in New York City.


Western Heights is north of the 10, east of Crenshaw, south of Washington and west of Arlington Ave. Despite the suggestion of its name, it's rather flat and on the same level as most of Midtown. In addition to the residents it is also home to several upholstery and carpet stores as well as Korean and Mexican restaurants. It's home to homes built in the Queen Anne, Craftsman, Tudor Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival, designed by architects such as Myron Hunt and Paul Williams. For that its a proposed HPOZ.


Wilshire Center has historically been the largest neighborhood in Midtown. Contained within it are the smaller neighborhoods of Little Bangladesh and Koreatown. However, as Koreatown has effectively (and now officially) grown, Koreatown has come to dominate Wilshire Center rather than the other way around. However, it is still marked by neon signs and the population is mostly Latino, 54% -- mostly Mexican but with large numbers of Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Hondurans and Oaxacans. If Wilshire Center has a heart, it's Wilshire Boulevard, Reflecting the ethnicity of most of its inhabitants to the north, it's the site of The Consulate General of El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Bolivia and South Korea. The rest of the population is 32% Asian (mostly Korean), 7% white and 4% black. 


Wilshire Highlands is bounded by San Vicente to the north, La Brea to the east, Pico to the south and Redondo to the west. It is home to a well-known 24 hour joint, Lucy's Drive In. It's also home to Rogue Machine Theatre, Dr. Tea's Tea Garden & Herbal Emporium and The GAM Arts Center. The latter is a large silver-with-red-trim rehearsal hall and studio space for film and video production. 


Wilshire Park is a Mid-Wilshire neighborhood adjacent to Koreatown that that often gets lumped in with it (including by the LA Times). This is despite the fact that the neighborhood is made up mostly of single-family homes and few businesses, in contrast to high density and very commercial K-Town. In the silent era Wilshire Park was home to several famous actresses. One of homes was the Douglas home in the TV series, My Three Sons. To read more about Wilshire Park, click here


Windsor Square is a Mid-Wilshire neighborhood developed around 1910 by financier named George A.J. Howard and meant to have an English vibe. Several enormously expensive homes were designed by Paul Williams and A.C. Martin, among others. The mayor's residence is a home there, originally built for Oil baron John Paul Getty. The population is 42% Asian (mostly Korean and Filipino), 38% White (mostly German), 15% Latino and 4% black. 


Windsor Village's boundaries are Wilshire Boulevard to the north, Olympic Boulevard to the south, Lucerne Boulevard to the west, and Crenshaw Boulevard to the east. Many of the homes are from the 1920s and it's a newly designated historic zone. Naturally they now have a website.


Wilshire Vista is a Little Ethiopia and Miracle Mile adjacent neighborhood with several restaurants including El Compa Tacos and Burritos, Chic Rotisserie Chicken, CJ's Cafe and Pasquale's Cafe and Pizza. It's also home of The Black Dahlia Theatre as well as the usual array of auto shops. 


Wilshire Vista Heights is home to a couple of Caribbean joints -- Wi Jammin Carribean and Island Fresh. With three words in its name, Wilshire Vista Heights is tied with Park la Brea, Pico del Mar and St Andrews Square for "most words in the name of a Midtown neighborhood."


Well, hopefully that whet your appetite for blog entries about Midtown neighborhoods, so if you'd like to vote for them -- or other Los Angeles neighborhoods, click here. If you'd like to vote for Los Angeles County communities, click here. And finally, if you'd like to vote for Orange County communities and neighborhoods, click here. Until next time! 


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