Amoeblog

California Fool's Gold -- A Mideast Side Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 16, 2011 05:00pm | Post a Comment
As regular (and probably irregular) readers of Eric's Blog know, a big part of my focus is writing about the culture, character and history of the many diverse communities of Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Although so far there have been around 800 votes from readers, I thought it would be fun (and hopefully entertaining) to focus on the regions and provide a brief summary of them with the hope of encouraging informed voting for the neighborhoods within. In this entry I'd like to focus on what I refer to as the Mideast Side.

 



IDENTITY CRISIS

The Mideast Side is a name that I made up. Like most of my clever ideas, I was probably beaten to it by someone else because it's natural to want a label for one's region and the Mideast Side doesn't have one besides being part of the larger Central Los Angeles area. The Los Angeles Times covers the Mideast asi part of Central Los Angles -- which it is -- but the other regions of Central Los Angeles (Downtown, Hollywood, and Midtown) having their own recognized identities, the Mideast's has long been (in the words of Phil colli a land of confusion.

Meanwhile, Hollywood secessionists want to claim parts of the Mideast for their town, all the local gangs represent the Westside (since it's on the Los Angeles River's west bank, not east), the cops consider most of it to be in the Northeast Division, downtowners and developers claim parts of it as Central City West


ALTERNATE NAMES

When Los Angeles was founded in 1781, The area that's now the Mideast Side was the original westside, with Hoover Street corresponding closely to the pueblo's western border. As they began to be developed, neighborhoods Los Feliz and Ivanhoe (Silver Lake) were considered to be in Northwest Los Angeles whereas those around Pico Heights (Pico-Union) were considered Southwest Los Angeles.

When the city began expanding north, south, and west, its center of gravity relocated and all of those regions became commonly thought of as Central Los Angeles. Within Central Los
 Angeles, Downtown, Hollywood, and Midtown arose as widely recognized multi-neighborhood districts whereas the neighborhoods of the old westside existed in some sort of identity limbo. When neighborhoods like Los Feliz and Silver Lake began to be seen as fashionable in the 1990s, many developers began referring to them as The Eastside, hoping to commodify some of that region's "grit," "funkiness," and above all, "authenticity." Since there already is a region with a two-century-old claim on the Eastside, eastsiders were understandably outraged. Although today some people -- whether callously or cluelessly -- still refer to the Old Westside as the Eastside, some of us have proposed new names that we can get behind which are less colonial in nature. Here they are:

NORTH CENTRAL - Some have suggested calling the region "North Central," meant to be a counterpart to South Central. However, South Central's name is derived not from its geographic location within the city but from the neighborhood which formed along South Central Avenue. That long street become North Central Avenue, for the record, in Glendale -- which is not located outside of Los Angeles.

THE NEAR EASTSIDE - I sort of like the sound of "The Near Eastside" but it's as geographically relativist and problematic as European concept of The Near East. It's only nearer if the user is from the Westside, Hollywood or Midtown, really. If one is in the actual Eastside, the "Near Eastside" is really the "Near Westside"... which actually has more precedent. After all, the neighborhood of Westlake was named as such to compliment Lincoln Heights, which used to be known as Eastlake.

THE WEST BANK - "The West Bank," of course, will forever be associated with Israel and the Palestinian territory. Imagine the results you'd get if you were trying to do an internet search for a decent mechanic or restaurant in the West Bank. Your Central Los Angeles results wouldn't even make the top 10,000. 

The Mideast Side is clearly the best, if not yet widely recognized. Think about it though, doesnt "Mideast Side" provide a nice compliment to Mid-City West, an area located on the other side of Midtown? Doesn't it strike a nice geo-linguistic chord between Midtown and the Eastside without making an colonial claims to either? Doesn't it capture, without using the term "Middle East," the contentiousness of the area's identity?

If you're on board, there is now a Mideast Side Facebook groupMideast Side art print(available from Echo Park's 1650 Gallery), and a Mideast Side Foursquare page. In other words, it's a concept whose time has come.


THE NEIGHBORHOODS OF THE MIDEAST

So now that we're in agreement, let's move forward. The Mideast Side is a region of varied neighborhoods, with working class populations dominating the southern end and richie riches in the northern hills. It has significant populations of Armenians, Chinese, Filipinos, Guatemalans, Koreans, Mexicans and Salvadorans. And now a little about the individual neighborhoods. 
 
  
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's 2nd and 3rd editions of the Mideast Side maps (2nd edition sold)
 

ANGELENO HEIGHTS


One of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Angeleno Heights has a number of absolutely beautiful Craftsman and Victorian homes. It used to have four grocery stores but three have been converted to residences. To read more about Angeleno Heights, click here.
 

THE BYZANTINE-LATINO QUARTER

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Elysian Valley, Los Angeles's Frogtown

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 20, 2009 10:47pm | Post a Comment


In this entry of the Los Angeles neighborhood blog, we will cover Elysian Valley. To vote for a neighborhood, go here. To vote for a Los Angeles County community go here. To vote for Orange County communities, go here.


 
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Maps of the Mideast Side and Elysian Valley


Elysian Valley
is a small working class neighborhood in LA's Mideast Side, bordered by Fletcher to the north, the 5 freeway to the west and south, and the LA river to the east and south. It's surrounded by Elysian Park, Silver Lake, and Elysian Heights and, across the river, Atwater Village, Glassell Park and Cypress Park.

Continue reading...