COME IN! S, M, L, XLA -- A new exhibit at the A+D Museum opens this Thursday

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 16, 2014 09:22am | Post a Comment
On 19 June, a new exhibit opens at the A+D Museum called COME IN! S,M,L, XLA. 

S, M, L, XLA logo designed by Andrew Byrom

The website's description follows: 

Historically, Los Angeles as a city has been a site of inspiration and exploration for architects and designers alike. The city has been developed around and defined by a variety of large-scale urban planning projects as well as medium and smaller sized residential and public work including housing, product design and technological innovations. Through these various architecture and design projects, the city has nurtured experimental pursuits and critical inquiry and today it continues to expand in the contemporaneous city. 

Projects are currently being developed at various scales all over L.A. from miniscule to monumental and everything in-between. Small, medium, large, extra-large Los Angeles takes Rem Koolhaas and Bruce Maus seminal text as a departure point and more importantly as an organizing principle to examine the production and discourse of architecture and design within today's city of L.A. bringing coherence to the body of work of an emergent group of Los Angeles based designers that span across disciplines from architecture and graphics to digital media and sound art, to jewelry, landscape, lighting, product, and textile design; the show highlights the ways in which young practitioners are currently thinking and making in Los Angeles in addition to their impact on the present-day city and its future.

The exhibit highlights the work of artists and designers, including Fieldwork (Maya Santos and Rani de Leon), On The Road Project LA (Jonathan Louie and James Michael Tate), Jae Won Cho of J1, Laurel Broughton of WELCOME PROJECTSNatasha Bajc, NO RELATION (Steven and Mads Christensen), Grey Crowell of the Foundation for Architecture and Design, Bijan Fahmian of the Los Angeles Arts CollectiveNONdesigns (Miao Miao and Scott Franklin), Cellular Complexity (Julia Koerner, Kais Al-Rawi, and Marie Boltenstern), Andrew Kovacs, Jonathan Louie, Evan Mather, Alison Petty Ragguette, M-Rad (Matthew Rosenberg), Lisa C. Soto, Maxi Spina, T8projects (James Michael Tate), limilLab (Filipa Valente), and Eduardo Viramontes.

Image source -- A+D Museum

The A+D Museum (aka Architecture and Design Museum) was founded in 2001 and originally located in Downtown Los Angeles's iconic Bradbury Building. It later moved to Museum Row, where it currently resides alongside the Craft & Folk Art MuseumLACMA, the George C. Page Museum, the Petersen Automotive Museum, and Zimmer Children's MuseumThe A+D is only museum in Los Angeles with an exclusive emphasis on architecture and design. The exhibition will run from 19 June until 31 August and the opening will be DJed by Rani De Leon

Museum Row in Midtown

A+D Museum is located in Miracle Mile at 6032 Wilshire Boulevard. It is located near the intersection of Wilshire and Fairfax Avenue (where Notorious BIG was killed) and is conveniently accessible by the Metro 20 and 217 lines as well as the Metro Rapid 720. The extension of the Purple Line will mean the displacement of the museum in the future.

Click here to purchase tickets


Visiting LACMA's Bing Theater for a Tuesday Matinee

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 23, 2013 05:17pm | Post a Comment
A recent viewing of The Shining reminded me of just what a good idea it is for people who work at home (and perhaps have a bit of a tough time pulling themselves away from work) to forgo all work for occasional play. I also regularly suffer from a sort of paralysis that occurs when I try to figure out which of the hundreds (maybe thousands) of daily cultural events and then stay home. A good place for cineastes to check out is Film Radar, a website which lists most of the special film events taking place around town. After checking the site and seeing the names Samuel Fuller and Douglas Sirk, I decided before paralysis could take hold to take the Metro to LACMA’s Bing Theater (incidentally one of the few local movie theaters that doesn’t go for the pretentious, supposedly (because it’s nearly ubiquitous) “chiefly British” spelling of “theatre”) to see Shockproof (1949).

I’ve been to the Bing Theater a few times before. On the most memorable occasion I saw Mother (마더, 2009) there, a film directed by masterful genre-blender Bong Joon-ho (who, it also transpired, was sitting next to me. On the other side, by the way, was Charles Reece). That film screened back when the Bing Theater still had regular weekend screenings of films by the likes of Andrei Tarkovsky, Hong Sang-soo, and William Wellman. Sadly, the current CEO and director of the museum decided to pull the plug on the screenings -- faced as he was with declining attendance and the inability to find sufficient funding to continue what his predecessors had successfully done for more than four decades. (Here’s a thought: concession stands provide 85% of the profits for most successful cinemas and it’s frankly perverse watching a movie without popcorn or Jujyfruits).

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring The Byzantine-Latino Quarter

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 12, 2013 10:57pm | Post a Comment

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of The Byzantine-Latino Quater
Los Angeles's Byzantine-Latino Quarter is neighborhood and commercial corridor that straddles the larger neighborhoods of Harvard Heights and Pico-Union as well as the larger Midtown districts of Wilshire Center to the north and Mid-City to the south. The Quarter is centered along Pico Boulevard between South Hobart Boulevard to the west and South Alvarado Boulevard to the east.


The westernmost border of Los Angeles, as established by the Spanish in 1781, was along what's now Hoover Boulevard. The land to the west, through the Spanish and subsequent Mexican period were public lands. The land remained a mixture of pastures and farmland for decades after California became part of the US in 1848.


Craftsman bungalows

One of the first neighborhoods to develop west of Hoover was the 280 acre Pico Heights Tract. In 1887, at the height of a land boom, the Electric Railway Homestead Association divided the land between Pico and 9th Street, and west of Vermont into 1,210 lots. Most of the lots along Pico were purchased by J.R. Millard and it quickly developed into a fashionable suburb characterized by stately Craftsman homes and a wealthy, white, Protestant population. Many of the new inhabitants were Downtown business owners and the short distance between work and home was a short ride on the newly-established Pico Heights Electric Railway, which also opened in 1887.

The growing community, sometimes referred to as Pico Heights Village with a bit of dreamy embellishment, was annexed by the city of Los Angeles in 1896. Along with Arlington Heights and The University District, it became a Southwest Los Angeles neighborhood (a region that vanished as the city expanded).

As Pico Heights aged, more and more of the wealthy residents moved further west and their void was largely filled by working class whites. By 1919 it was home to about 100 Japanese-American families, who though often wealthier and more educated than their white counterparts, were subject to racist, sometimes violent hostility. The Los Angeles County Anti-Asiatic Society formed the Electric Home Protective Association, a discriminatory group largely comprised of Germans and Austrians (under increased scrutiny and suspicion after World War I) and Catholics who were united by anti-Japanese racism.


Victoria Theatre today (2012)

Around 1914, the 700-seat Victoria Theatre opened on Pico Boulevard. At some point around the 1960s it was gutted and converted into a dance hall. The theater appeared in the 1977 Rudy Ray Moore vehicle Petey Wheatstraw. In 1981, punk band Circle One and others played a concert there.

A mixed-use, multiple unit residency built in 1924

The discriminatory second California Alien Land Law passed in 1920, specifically to target ongoing Japanese immigration. Property in Pico Heights nonetheless (or because of anti-Japanese discrimination) continued to decline in monetary values. Eastern Europeans, Mexicans, and Japanese increasingly inhabited newly-constructed multiple family residences.

Bishop Conaty, Our Lady of Loretto High School

In 1922, a Japanese Methodist congregation attempted to build a new church in the area and crashed against white hostility. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Catholic Girls' High School opened in 1923 (later re-named Bishop Conaty, Our Lady of Loretto High School). One of the pleasing ironies is that Los Angeles was sold to WASPs as "The white spot of America" but is now quite possibly the most diverse city in the galaxy. Though I couldn't find statistics just for the B-LQ, the population of Pico-Union was, as of the 2010 census, roughly 85% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 8% Asian (mostly Korean), 3% black, and only 3% white.

Sunnyside Presbyterian Church

The diversity can not only be seen in the storefronts, signage and restaurants but the neighborhood's churches as well. In 1930, a church opened that is now The Sunnyside Presbyterian Church, a Korean-American church (as are Korean Evangelical Nah Sung, Korean Southern Presbyterian, and The Korean Sae Han Presbyterian Church). Another church in the neighborhood caters to Samoans (the Samoan Community Christian Church). Spanish speakers are served by Rios de Agua Via,  Iglesia Pentecostes El Ultimo, and Ministerios de Restauracion.

St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church

The oldest, and one of the prettiest church in the neighborhood is St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, built in 1905, and also known as Iglesia Santo Tomás Apóstol. Most well-known, probably, is Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral


Along with Little Italy and largely Jewish Brooklyn Heights, or Little Mexico (Chavez Ravine); Greek Town is one of the now vanished ethnic enclaves of Los Angeles. In the early 20th century, Los Angeles's Greek population was focused around what's now the Fashion District (in Downtown) and Boyle Heights (in the Eastside). Around the mid-20th century, much of the Greek population was centered around the intersection of Pico and Normandie, an area still home to several Greek institutions.


Papa Cristo's

Sam Chrys opened C & K Importing opened in 1948 with the focus on Greek imports. In 1968 (I believe) the business expanded into a restaurant by Sam's son, Cristo, with Papa Cristo's. I still haven't eaten there although I've picked up falafel mix, baklava, and restina from the market. Papa Cristo's Catering & Greek Taverna was established in 1990.


St Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral

The other major remaining vestige of Greek Town is the aforementioned Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral. The church was built in 1952 by Charles P. Skouras (designed by Kalionzes, Klingerman & Walker), then head of the National Theaters chain. Charles and his brothers, Spyros Skouras and George Skouras were Greek-American Hollywood hopefuls who'd moved to Los Angeles from St. Louis, Missouri. Spyros eventually became president of 20th Century Fox. George became the head of United Artists. Earlier, in 1932, the Skouras brothers jointly took over the management of over 500 Fox-West Coast theaters. Charles repaid God for his intervention by erecting a cathedral to him in Greek Town.


Playboys Malos   

 Jesús Malverde (patron saint of drug smugglers)  

     West Side 18th Street Hoover St Locos

Likely the oldest gang in the neighborhood is the Westside Playboy Malos. The gang's roots begin in the 1950s, when Southern Califas Latin Playboys Car Club formed at a home near the intersection of Pico and Fedora. Their tags and tattoos often include representations of the Playboy Magazine logo and they're sometimes referred to as conejos. The other main active gang in the neighborhood is the 18th Street Gang, who were established in Pico Heights around 1965. The local click, Hoover Locos, is one of the oldest.


Pilgrim Tower for the Deaf & Elderly

In 1968, the Pilgrim Tower for the Deaf & Elderly opened. I find it worth mentioning because I'm a fan of low-rise architecture and its one of the few buildings in the neighborhood that's more than two stories tall.


Pico Heights was seen as having been in a decades-long decline by some and in 1970, the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) of the city of Los Angeles decided to give the neighborhood a fresh start by changing its name to "Pico-Union." The Pico-Union Neighborhood Council (PUNC) was formed the same year.


In the 1970s, the US-inflamed Central American Crisis made life for tens of millions of Central Americans. As a result, thousands of Guatemalans, Hondurans, Nicaraguans, and Salvadorans fled the appalling violence in their homelands and resettled in Pico-Union and nearby Koreatown and Westlake. By 1996, Pico-Union was heavily Salvadoran and the area was often referred to as "Pequeño Centroamérica" or "Nuevo Cuscatlán."


In 1991, singer Shara Nelson walked from the intersection of South New Hampshire Avenue and Pico to the intersection of Pico and Dewey Avenue for the filming of Massive Attack's music video for "Unfinished Sympathy." 


Pico-Union was one of the areas hardest hit by 1992 LA Riots outside of South Los Angeles. Increasingly seen as a Central American barrio, in 1995 a coalition of local churches, schools, residents, and merchants from the western portion of the neighborhood met to address their concerns. The product of their efforts was the 1997 creation and designation of the Byzantine-Latino Quarter, a nod to both its Latino majority and Greek period.

Byzantine-Latino Quarter neon sign

The Byzantine-Latino Quarter Business Improvement District installed a large, "Byzantine-Latino Quarter" neon sign atop one of the neighborhood's only other low-rise building (then a public storage facility) in 2001. There are faded banners along Pico and public art advertising its new name. A former Pacific Bell building is now home to Jane B. Eisner Middle School and a Byzantine-Latino Quarter Community Center.


Since 1999, the Byzantine-Latino Quarter has hosted the annual L.A. Greek Fest in September, an event which attracts some 40,000 people.


Dinos' Chicken and Burgers

Guatemalteca Market

There are several places to eat in the Byzantine-Latino Quarter: Acapulco TortilleriaCafe Las MargaritasCanaan Restaurant, El Colmao, Conchitas Restaurant, Dino's Chicken and Burgers, Graciela's, El Grullense Restaurante, Guapo's Market, Guatemalteca MarketHuicho's Bakery, Mateo's Ice Cream & Fruit Bars, El Nuevo Picasso, Pan Victoria, the aforementioned Papa Cristo's, Paqueteria King Express, Pollos El Brasero, Restaurante El Mirador, Las 7 Regiones, Texis Restaurant And Entertainment, and El Valle Oaxaqueno. There are a couple of bars too; Mike's Hideout Bar and Pulgarcito Sports Bar.

Inside Tiendas de Mariposa mini mall

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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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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Fairfax

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 10, 2011 03:17pm | Post a Comment

The Fairfax District is a small Midtown neighborhood with a long history as one of Los Angeles' primary centers of Jewish culture. The boundaries, like many Los Angeles neighborhoods, aren't universally agreed upon but I place them as Melrose Ave on the north, N La Brea Ave on the east, W 3rd St to the south and N Fairfax on the west.
To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods to be the subject of future blog entries, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, vote here. To vote for Orange County communities and neighborhoods, vote here. 

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