Amoeblog

California Fool's Gold Episode Guide

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 23, 2014 08:33pm | Post a Comment

I thought that it might be useful to publish an "episode guide" of my California Fool's Gold pieces here on the Amoeblog. I've also been invited to speak about them for a class on diversity in Los Angeles at Emerson College so this goes out to the students in Professor Oliver's class. 



Sonic Youth - "Eric's Trip" (off Daydream Nation)


If you're a fan of this sort of thing (or you're just temporarily mesmerized by the computer screen in front of you) you might also enjoy my column over at KCET called Block By Block in which I explore our vast Southland without the use of a car whether by foot, bike, bus, train, subway, ferry or otherwise. As with Eric's Blog, Block By Block also often feature my maps which I create as Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography


Wire - "Map Ref. 41°N 93°W" (off 154)
 
When I explore a new community, I usually rely upon the vox populi which is why anyone may vote for what communities they'd like to become the subject of future articles by clicking here for Los Angeles neighborhoodshere for Los Angeles County communities, and here for Orange County communities. Check back occasionally for new episodes -- next up, if all goes according to plan, is Westlake

 
Billy J. Kramer with the DakotasTrains And Boats And Planes (off Trains And Boats And Planes)
If the reader wishes, they may also read brief introductions to all of the communities in the poll which are organized by regional primers corresponding to the 22 Kingdoms of the Southland:

Angeles ForestThe Antelope ValleyThe Channel IslandsDowntown Los AngelesThe EastsideThe HarborHollywoodThe Mideast SideMidtownNorth Orange County, Northeast Los AngelesNorthwest CountyThe Pomona ValleyThe San Fernando ValleyThe San Gabriel ValleyThe Santa Monica MountainsThe South Bay 
South Los Angeles's EastsideSouth Los Angeles's WestsideSouth Orange CountySoutheast Los Angeles CountyThe Verdugos
, and The Westside 





 
R.E.M. - "Maps & Legends" (off Fables of the Reconstruction
 
Season 1 (2007)

Granada Hills
Montebello
Alhambra




Season 2 (2008)

Rosemead
San Marino
Edendale
Morningside Circle




Season 3 (2009)

Elysian Valley
Yucca Corridor
Cypress Park
Wilshire Park
The Arts District
Walnut
Canterbury Knolls
Little Osaka
Laurel Canyon




Season 4 (2010)

Longwood Highlands
Industry
Boyle Heights
Echo Park
Chinatown
Thai Town
Eagle Rock
Glendale
Claremont
Little Bangladesh
Koreatown
Rowland Heights
Silver Lake
Sherman Oaks
Burbank
Little Ethiopia
Santa Ana
East Los Angeles
Monterey Park
Highland Park
Fullerton
Skid Row
Costa Mesa
Los Feliz
Garden Grove
Mar Vista
Orange
Angeleno Heights




Season 5 (2011)

Arcadia
South Pasadena
Venice
Long Beach
Compton
Tustin
Fairfax
Historic Filipinotown
Huntington Beach
San Gabriel




Season 6 (2012)

Pasadena
Lincoln Heights
Mount Washington
Altadena




Season 7 (2013)

El Monte
Santa Catalina Island
Laguna Beach
East Pasadena
Culver City
San Clemente
Chesterfield Square
Happy Valley
Monterey Hills
City Terrace
Hillside Vilage




Season 8 (2014)

Hermon
University Hills
Garvanza
Rose Hill
North Hollywood
South Central
Watts
Little Seoul
Glassell Park 
Westlake
Atwater Village
Terminal Island
Little Italy (San Diego)




Season 9 (2015)

Franklin Hills
Anaheim
Victor Heights



 


 
 
Tom Waits - "In the Neighborhood" (off Swordfishtrombones)

*****


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California Fool's Gold -- A Channel Islands Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 20, 2013 02:49pm | Post a Comment
WHO WOULD FLOAT ME TO MY ISLAND DREAM? -- THE CHANNEL ISLANDS

Foggy Day (Image credit: Lee Shurie for California Kayak Friends)

On planet Earth there are at least two archipelagos known as “The Channel Islands.” Frankly, I'd be somewhat surprised if there aren't more. One is located in an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates France and the UK known in English as “The English Channel” or simply “The Channel.” It's traversed (or is it subversed) by the Chunnel. Its eight Channel Islands are home to about 168,000.



The other Channel Islands are in an arm of the Pacific Ocean called the Santa Barbara Channel. Being located in California they are are often distinguished from their Atlantic counterparts by their being referred to as the Channel Islands of California. There are also eight islands in this archipelago although they’re only home to about 4,000 people. In some ways they have more in common with another archipelago, the Galapagos Islands of South America. Both developed in relative isolation which allowed for an independent evolutionary processes. In the Channel Islands' case, that process led to the development of at least 145 endemic species.

Last year my New Year’s resolution was to visit one or more of these islands. As with moth New Year's resolutions, I failed to meet it (just remembering it distinguishes it from most that I've made in the past). I changed my resolution with less than a month left of 2012 to the easier task of learning how to tie a bow tie in time for New Year’s Eve. This year, on my birthday, I visited Santa Catalina, which although often treated as somehow distinct from the Channel Islands, is in fact one of them. Here's hoping (but not resolving) that I visit more soon.


GETTING THERE AND BACK

Tomol Crossing Sunrise (Image credit: Robert Schwemmer for Channel Islands Chumash)

I’ve wanted to visit the Channel Islands ever since learning of their existence -- probably around the time that my mother read Island of the Blue Dolphins to me. Whereas most of Los Angeles County (two of the Channel Islands are part of it) and Southern California are easily accessible by a variety of means including pubic and private transit, the Channel Islands are a bit more tricky (unless you have readily have in your possession a boat, helicopter, hovercraft, dirigible or other craft). Most people visit the islands via commercial and private boats, airplanes, or helicopters.


THE NORTH AND SOUTH

The California Channel Islands are generally divided into two groups, the Northern Group (consisting of Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Cruz, and Santa Rosa) and the Southern Group (consisting of San Clemente, San Nicolas, Santa Barbara, and Santa Catalina). They are also split among the jurisdictions of three bailiwicks – er, counties: Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. Their combined landmass is 896 square kilometers. Rather sadly, in most maps of those counties, these magnificent gems are either removed entirely or confined to disconnected corner boxes disconnected at reduced scale in a similar fashion to Alaska and Hawaii on maps of the USA.


PRE-HUMAN HISTORY

Channel Islands Pygmy Mammoth sculpture at the California History Museum (Credit: Rhino Design Studio)

During the last ice age, because of lower sea levels, the four northernmost islands were conjoined into a single island separated from the mainland by a mere 8 kilometers. Archaeologists have discovered the remains of flightless geese, giant mice, and pygmy mammoths. The Channel Island Fox is believed to have rafted to the northern islands as early as 16,000 years ago and unlike the previous examples, isn't extinct. The foxes were likely brought to the southern islands by Native Americans, who arrived perhaps a couple of thousand years later.


THE CHUMASH ERA

Arlington Springs Bones (Image credit: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History)

In 1960, several bones from a 13,000 year-old skeleton were discovered and nicknamed the Arlington Springs Man (and sometimes the Arlington Springs Woman due to questions about their owner's sex). As early as 11,000 years ago a band of Chumash settled in the northern Channel Islands and possibly the southern as well. The Chumash also traditionally made their home coastal plain between Morro Bay and Malibu (the name of which is derived from the Chumash name Humaliwo meaning “the surf sounds loudly”). The island-dwelling Chumash were known to the mainland Chumash as the Michhumash or “the makers of shell bead money.”


THE TOMOL

Chumash tomol (Image source: Chumash Maritime Association)

Along with the Mapuche in Chile, the Chumash were one of the only Native Americans nations known to possess deep ocean-faring boats, which they called tomol. Tomol are plank canoes that were up to 30 feet in length and carried about ten people. A tomol-building Chumash organization known as The Brotherhood of the Tomol disbanded in 1834. A newer group of tomol-makers formed in 1976 and their craft, the ‘Elye’wun, which made its first trip to Santa Cruz Island in 2001.



Some have theorized that both the Chumash and Mapuche learned the craftt of building plank canoes from the Austronesian people who colonized most of the Pacific. In the Western Hemisphere, sewn plank canoes are known only in the Pacific Islands, Chile, and the Channel Islands. Pacific Islanders reached both Hawaii and Rapa Nui from, most likely, the Marquesas as early as 300 CE. Around the same time, similar technology appeared in the Americas.

The evidence is intriguing but hardly incontrovertible. That theory may well bear out but I am always suspicious of how seemingly whenever ancient Native Americans have shown high levels of technological sophistication, someone will invariably suggest that everyone from Africans, to Europeans, to Melanesians, to Pacific Islanders must've had a hand in it. Of course then there are the nutty (and even more insulting) theories perpetuated by the always ridiculous History Channel that people traveled across the galaxy to meddle in human history. On the other hand, our improving understanding of DNA in recent years has radically challenged perceptions about the Pre-Columbian Era, suggesting that it was far more interconnected than previously thought.


THE TONGVA ERA

Maritime Village (Image source: Keepers of Indigenous Ways)

The Tongva (also sometimes referred to as Kizh) people arrived from the Sonoran Desert to the Los Angeles Basin sometime in the vicinity of 7,000 BCE years ago. They almost certainly learned to make plank boats from the Chumash, which they called ti’at, and used them to settle the southern islands. Evidence suggests that the Tongva may’ve wrested control of the islands from the Chumash through violence, as there is evidence on San Clemente and San Nicolas Islands of several deadly, ancient battles.


SPANISH ERA

In 1542, the first Spaniard, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, passed by California and claimed the islands for Spain. In 1602 another Spanish explorer, Sebastián Vizcaíno, again “discovered” the islands. After that, from 1602 till 1769, there was no recorded contact between the Spanish and Native Channel Islanders. Despite their claim on them, Spanish did little to prevent other nations from exploiting the islands and in modern times Aleuts, Americans, Chinese, and Russians all freely pursued their interests on them, in the process greatly reducing the Native populations with both disease and killing. In the 19th Century, the Spanish forcibly relocate the remaining Chumash and Tongva people to the mainland Missions, which were essentially labor camps.



Though many of the captured Natives died, it would be wrong to assume that both people are extinct. Today there are several thousand people who identify as Chumash . The Santa Ynez Band is federally recognized Chumash tribe. There are other bands who have yet to gain federal recognition but who, in several cases, are attempting to. The first Chumash dictionary was published in 2008 and there is a documentary available titled 6 Generations: A Chumash Family History




There are also somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,700 Tongva alive today but no Tongva band has thus far been granted federal recognition. There is a subsection of Amoeba's Documentary section called Native America which is where one can find documentaries about indigenous people of the Americas from Chile's Diego Ramírez Islands in the south to Kaffeklubben Island, Greenland in the north.


EARLY AMERICAN ERA

Catalina Civil War Barracks (Image: White, William Sanford &Steven Kern Tice's Santa Catalina Island)

In 1848, the US defeated Mexico (who'd gained independence from Spain in 1821) and conquered all of California, including of course the Channel Islands. For a century, the islands were used primarily for ranching and hunting, resulting in the extinction of some species and widespread environmental devastation. Santa Catalina began to be developed as a tourist destination in the 1890s but during World War II, all of the Channel Islands were placed under the control of the US military. Military installations were built on several islands and San Miguel was used as a bombing range.


CHANNEL ISLANDS BECOME NATIONAL PARKS

Channel Islands National Park (Image source: QT Luong)

It was only in 1980 that Channel Islands National Park was designated in the northern islands. It wasn’t until 1986 that most came into the ownership of the National Park system and the long road to recovery of the islands began.


BIODIVERSITY

 
Channel Islands Slender Salamander and Island Fox (images: Alice Abela and Callie Bowdish)

Despite years of devastation, the Channel Islands remain one of the richest marine biospheres in the world and through conservation efforts, there is considerable environmental recovery underway. DDT use in the 1950s resulted in the local extinction of Bald Eagles by the 1960s but they’ve since been reintroduced. Still extant unique species include the shy Storm-petrel, Channel Islands Slender Salamander, Channel Islands Spotted Skunk, Island fence lizard, Island Fox, Island Night Lizard, Island Scrub Jay, San Clemente loggerhead shrike, San Clemente sage sparrow, and Santa Cruz sheep. Unquire flora include a subspecies of Torrey Pine, the Channel Island Oak, and the Island Tree mallow.

In popular culture, the Channel Islands as a group have surprisingly little presence (considering what a treasure they are). A band from Chico, The Mother Hips, have a song called "Channel Island Girl" which may or may not refer to the California Channel Islands. If there are other books, movies, games or songs about the islands, let me know. Works about or relevant to specific islands are mentioned below in the corresponding sections about the islands.

*****

SANTA CRUZ ISLAND

Potato Harbor at Santa Cruz Island

At 250 square kilometers, Santa Cruz Island is not only the largest of the islands in the chain but the largest island in all of California. It was formerly the largest privately owned island off the continental US. It contains two mountain ranges in which the highest peak is the 740 meter tall Devils Peak. There are permanently flowing springs and streams.

Map of Santa Cruz Island

Remains of ten Chumash villages have been located on the island, which is believed to have at one time supported a population of roughly 1,200. The largest known village, Swaxil, was located near the site of Scorpion Ranch. Cabrillo observed six villages and named the island San Lucas. The Chumash already had a name for the island, Limuw, which means something like “place in the sea.” Like Cabrillo, Vizcaíno apparently didn't ask the indigenous inhabitants and labeled it on his map the Isla de Gente Barbuda or, the Island of Bearded People. Legend tells of a Spanish priest's long lost staff that was presented to Gaspar de Portolà de Rovira during his 1769 expedition. It was supposedly that event which led to the island once again being renamed, this time Santa Cruz. The last of the Chumash were removed in 1822 by Mexico, the year after achieving independence. Mexico then turned it into a small penal colony for a short time. In 1839 it was granted to Captain Andrés Castillero.

Scorpion Ranch (Image source: Shannon Technologies)

In 1855, during Castillero’s stewardship, an English physician named James B. Shaw was allowed to build a ranch home and start a Merino sheep operation. In 1857 the island was sold to William Barron and by 1864, some 24,000 sheep grazed the island. By the 1880s, a Frenchman named Justinian Claire acquired the island. In 1937 his family sold most of the island to oilman Edwin Stanton but continued to maintain a sheep ranch on the island's east end. Stanton, for his part, shifted the old ranch’s focus to beef production.

Painted Cave (Image source: Santa Barbara Independent)

In 1980 the US Government designated all four northern islands a National Park. Nonetheless, descendants of Claire were allowed to continue ranching until 1984, at which time the ranch was leased to a hunting organization who hunted feral pigs and the remaining sheep. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the remaining privately-owned land was finally purchased from Claire’s descendants and the process of rehabilitation could begin.Today the responsibility of protecting and preserving of Santa Cruz Island is divided between The Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service.

(Image source: Wander Melon)

There are archaeological sites from several periods of the island's history including Chumash shell middens and barns, blacksmiths, a chapel, homes and saddle shops from the ranch era. The island also has three airstrips: Unknown Airstrip, Christy Airstrip, and Santa Cruz Island Airport.


SANTA ROSA ISLAND 


Santa Rosa Island (Image credit: Callie Bowdish)

Santa Rosa Island is, at 215 square kilometers, the second largest of the Channel Islands although it's home to just two residents. The highest point is the 484 meter tall Vail Peak on Soledad Mountain. The Chumash called it Wimat, which refers to the redwood logs that floated ashore from coastal forests to the north and which were used to construct the tomol. So far the remains of eight villages have been discovered. 



In 1843, during the Mexican period, ownership of the island was granted to brothers José Antonio and Carlos Antonio Carrillo. It remained in their family until 1862, when the island was purchased by T. Wallace More and who established a ranch. The More family sold the island to Walter L. Vail and J.W. Vickers in 1902, who continued ranching and operated a private hunting reserve. It was purchased in 1986 to be included within the Channel Islands National Park.

Water Canyon Beach (Image credit: National Park Service)

Santa Rosa's landscape is characterized by rolling hills, canyons, beaches and a coastal lagoon. It’s home to at least six plant varieties found nowhere else, including a subspecies of Torrey Pine, a remnant of a once large Pleistocene forest.

Image credit: Colleen at Dave's Travel Corner

As with Santa Cruz Island there remain relics of the previous inhabitants from different periods in the form of ruins of fishing camps, ranch buildings, and military installations. A year round charter flight service is available from Camarillo Airport for visitors to Santa Rosa Island. 


SANTA CATALINA ISLAND

Catalina Island sunset

Santa Catalina Island, usually simply referred to as Catalina, is 194 square kilometers in area. Its tallest point is 648 meter high Mount Orizaba. Its population comprises 99.8% that of the combined islands. Unlike the other four southern islands, no signs of pre-Tongva use have thus far been discovered. The band of Tongva who formerly made it home called the island Pimu'gna (“place of the Pimu”) and themselves Pimugnans or Pimuvit. Their largest villages were located near the present day sites of Avalon, Emerald Bay, and Shark Harbor.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Santa Catalina Island 

Upon visiting in 1542, Cabrillo, named the island San Salvador. In 1602, Vizcaíno "discovered" it on the Eve of Saint Catherine’s Day and thus renamed it Santa Catalina Island. Mexico granted the island to Thomas M. Robbins in 1846. In 1850 Robbins sold the island to José María Covarrubias who in 1853 sold it to Albert Packard who in turn sold it to James Lick.



After the end of the Civil War, real estate developer George Shatto was the first to capitalize on the island’s potential as a tourist destination and built the island’s first hotel, Hotel Metropole, as well as a pier. His sister-in-law, Etta Whitney, came up with the name Avalon for the resort, inspired by Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem “Idylls of the King.” Shatto soon defaulted on his loan and ownership returned to the Lick estate.

Catalina Island Airport in the Sky

The Santa Catalina Island Company was established by the sons of Phineas Banning in 1891 with the intention of further developing the island as a resort. In addition to promoting Avalon, the Banning brothers developed inland roads for stagecoach tours and to access hunting lodges. They also built homes for themselves at Descanso Canyon and in what’s now Two Harbors. Their efforts were majorly set back when a fire destroyed most of Avalon on 29 November, 1915. In 1919 the brothers were forced to sell shares of their company.


After visiting the island with his family, William Wrigley, Jr. purchased most of the island’s shares and thus gained controlling interest in the Santa Catalina Island Company. To drum up publicity, Wrigley’s Chicago Cubs began using the island for spring training in 1921 and stayed at the Hotel St. Catherine in Descanso Bay. Wrigley built the iconic Catalina Casino in 1929. In the 1920s and ‘30s it was a popular getaway for movie stars and other celebrities. Today, 90% of Catalina's residents live in Avalon. There are five native land mammals on the island -- a subspecies of California Ground Squirrel, the Santa Catalina Island Harvest Mouse, the Santa Catalina Island Deer Mouse, the Ornate Shrew, and the Island Fox. In addition to the fox, the most recognizable fauna icon of the island is the American Bison, introduced in 1924 for a film, The Vanishing American.

Interior of Catalina Jet (boat)

Santa Catalina is easily accessed by use of the Catalina Express. Passenger ferries depart from Dana Point, Long Beach, Marina del Rey, Newport Beach, and San Pedro. Tickets for the boat aren't cheap... except on your birthday, when they're free! Helicopters also connect Long Beach and San Pedro to the island.

Claressa Avenue in Avalon
Santa Catalina was sung about in the song "26 Miles," by The Four Preps -- which is referenced in the title of this piece. Additionally, it’s been mentioned or referenced in songs including Harry Carroll and Harold Atteridge's "By the Beautiful Sea" (1914), Al Jolson and Vincent Rose's "Avalon" (1920), Nacio Herb Brown and Grant Clarke's "Avalon Town" (1928), Carrie Jacobs-Bond's "California" (1929), Cliff Friend and Con Conrad's "California" (1930), Harold Spina's "Santa Catalina" (1946), Gorden Vanderburg's "Catalina Honeymoon" (1953), The Descendents’ “Catalina" (1982), and Modern Skirts’ “Pasadena” (2005). Every year the island hosts the Catalina Island Jazztrax Festival. It was also the recording site of John Tesh: The Avalon Concert (1997). 

To read my account of visiting Santa Catalina, click here.


SAN CLEMENTE ISLAND 


San Clemente (Image source: The Wanderling)

San Clemente Island is 147 square kilometers in area. Its highest peak is the 599 meter high Vista Point. Though officially uninhabited, at any point there are about 300 Navy personnel stationed at the island's military base.

Image source: Neil Kramer

The Island was likely first inhabited by the Chumash, whose skeletons might be among those discovered at the ancient battle sites. The island was known as Kiingkenga by the Tonva and included several villages including Guinguina and Kinkipar.



In 1542 Cabrillo renamed it Victoria. Since Vizcaíno spotted it on the Eve of Saint Clement’s Day in 1602, he re-named it San Clemente Island. The city of San Clemente in South Orange County is named after the island. Salvador Ramirez likely introduced goats to the island from Catalina in 1875. The navy acquired the island in 1934. By 1972 there were about 11,000 feral goats wreaking devastation on the island's ecosystem and in 1980 the Navy announced their intention of terminating the remaining 4,000 or so with extreme prejudice. Horrified, the Fund for Animals intervened and captured and relocated them to the mainland and the San Clemente Goat is now recognized as a distinct breed. There’s even a San Clemente Island Goat Association.

San Clemente Goats (Image source: SVF Foundation)

The island remains home to the endangered the San Clemente Island Loggerhead Shrike and the San Clemente Island Fox.


SAN NICOLAS ISLAND 


San Nicolas Island (Image credit: NOAA
 Habitat Conservation)

San Nicolas Island is 59 square kilometers. The Chumash called the inhabitants of the island Niminocotch. It was also the apparent site of deadly battles. Its highest point is an unnamed, 276 meter peak. As with San Clemente, it’s currently under the control of the US Navy who maintain a permanent presence of about 200 military and civilian personnel on the base. It’s the most remote of the islands, located about 119 kilometers from the mainland.




The island was renamed for Saint Nicholas after Vizcaíno sited it on Saint Nicholas Day in 1602. The Native population were re-named the Nicoleños by the Spanish. After a series of deadly conflicts with Aleut hunters, the padres of the nearby missions relocated them in 1835 to the mainland, where they all quickly died from diseases to which they had no immunity. One from the inhabitants of the village Ghalas-at was left behind and lived alone for eighteen years after the evacuation until she was discovered by Captain George Nidever and his crew in 1853 and taken to Santa Barbara. There she died seven weeks later and her story was the basis for O’Dell’s 1960 book Island of the Blue Dolphins. The book was the basis for the 1964 live action film of the same name directed by James P. Clark (The Sad Horse, A Dog of Flanders, Misty, Flipper, and My Side of the Mountain) which, of course, stars a white in Redface doing a weird sort of English. San Nicolas Island was also the setting of its less-known sequel, Zia. More obscurely, it was the setting for the 1994 computer game, Rise of the Triad: Dark War and was Arius’s Island in the film, Commando (1985). 



The island was grazed by sheep until their removal in 1943. Another threat to the ecosystem came when Navy officers brought cats that quickly established a feral population. Beginning in 2009 a group of organizations began relocating the cats to a sanctuary in Ramona, California. They were believed to be eradicated by 2010 and were officially declared so in 2012.

Image source: Chuck Graham for Noowshawk

Despite the degradation, three endemic plants remain on the island: Trask's milkvetch, Red buckwheat, and San Nicholas biscuitroot. There are only three species of endemic land vertebrates on the island; the island night lizard, a type of deer mouse, and the island fox.


SAN MIGUEL ISLAND



San Miguel Island is the westernmost of the Channel Islands. Its area is 38 square kilometers and it includes offshore islands and rocks, most notably Prince Island. The highest point is the 253 meter high San Miguel Hill.



The Chumash called the island Tuqan and it supported at least two villages. Nowadays it supports no permanent human population. There are natural oil seepages which the Chumash utilized for a variety of purposes including waterproofing and paving.


ANACAPA

Anacapa Island (Image credit: Callie Bowdish)

Anacapa is the only one of the Channel Islands not to have a Spanish-derived name. Perhaps it was too small – or maybe it wasn’t there when the Spanish passed through. After all, the name comes from the Chumash 'Anyapakh meaning “mirage island.” The Chumash established no permanent villages due to a lack of consistent fresh water sources but did camp there seasonally as evinced by the remaining shell middens.



Anacapa is actually composed of three volcanic islets: East, Middle and West Anacapa, sometimes referred to collectively as the Anacapas. Their collective area is less than 3 square kilometers and it’s the smallest of the northern islands. At eighteen kilometers from the mainland coast, it’s also the nearest of the islands to shore. The ranger station there is home to three permanent residents.

Anacapa Lighthouse (image source: Shannon Technologies)

In 1853 the steamer, the SS Winfield Scott, ran aground off its coast and sank, stranding a group of passengers. Although they were rescued a week later, they left behind the ship's rats,which contributed to the destruction of the ecosystem. The US Coast Guard built a light beacon in 1912 and a Mission Revival-style light station built in 1932, which still stands and includes a lighthouse, fog signal, keeper’s quarters and other structures. It was the last lighthouse built by the United States Lighthouse Service. The island's most iconic feature is a twelve meter high natural bridge known as Arch Rock.

Arch Rock on Anacapa Island (Image source: Digital Apoptosis)

Sheep were introduced in the late 1890s and rabbits in the 1910s which decimated the landscape that was previously dominated by Giant Coreopsis (a large succulent that reaches heights of two meters) and Anacapa Island desert-dandelions. The last sheep were finally removed in 1938 and the rabbits were vanquished in the 1950s. The last of the rats were eradicated by 2002. It’s still home to sixteen endemic plant species which also survived the introduction of highly invasive iceplants by the Coast Guard. The current plan is to eradicate the last of that introduced species by 2016.

Pelican nesting spot on Anacapa (Image source: Callie Bowdish)

Anacapa is home to the largest breeding colony of the California Brown Pelican in the US and another unique subspecies of deer mouse. There are two native reptiles including the endemic Side-Blotched Lizard.


SANTA BARBARA ISLAND

Santa Barbara Island sea lion rookery

With an area of just 2.63 square kilometers, Santa Barbara Island is the smallest of the Channel Islands. Its highest peak is the 193 meter high Signal Hill. The island is located nearest to the center of the archipelago and is both lumped in with the southern islands and part of the Channel Islands National Park. It includes two named, offshore rocks: Shag Rock and Sutil Island which, like it, were formed by volcanic activity. 




Lacking a consistent source of fresh water or firewood, the island (which the Tongva called Tchunashngna) likely supported no permanent Tongva settlements. It was re-named by Vizcaíno who visited the island on December 4, 1602, Saint Barbara’s Day. The island is home to the largest breeding colony for Scripps's Murrelet , a threatened species of seabird. It’s also home to a large populations of California sea lions, harbor seals, and northern elephant seals. The Santa Barbara Island live-forever is a succulent species endemic to the island. A subspecies of horned lark, orange-crowned warbler, and house finches are also endemic. The only reptile on the island is the endemic (and threatened) night lizard.

(Image source: T.C. Boyle for Smithsonian Magazine)

Feral cats led to the extinction of the endemic Santa Barbara Island song sparrow in the 1960s. After years of ranching and the introduction of nonnative plants, rabbits, and cats, the native landscape is recovering under the guidance of the National Park Service.


*****

So there you have it, eight more reasons that Southern California is so special. Although I haven't opened up my community explorations to Santa Barbara or Ventura Counties, that's no reason to not visit the islands that are part of them. Of course you can always vote for Two Harbors or any other Los Angeles County communities to be the subject of future entries by clicking here. To vote for Orange County communities, click here. Finally, to vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, click here.


*****


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California Fool's Gold -- A San Fernando Valley Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 5, 2012 10:55am | Post a Comment

WHERE THE WEST BEGINS AND THE SUNSET ENDS -- THE VALLEY 


San Fernando Valley State College postcard (1973)

_THE_ VALLEY - A SAN FERNANDO VALLEY PRIMER



San Fernando Valley panorama


There are numerous valleys in Los Angeles County: the Antelope, Crescenta, Hungry, Peace, Pomona, PuenteSan Gabriel, Santa Clara River, and Santa Clarita, to name a few of the better known ones. However, when one hears mention of The Valley it is almost universally recognized as a reference to LA County's San Fernando Valley.

Continue reading...

California Fool's Gold -- A Hollywood Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 26, 2012 09:42pm | Post a Comment
HOLLYWOOD SWINGING


Hollywood Boulevard in 1927 at the opening of Hells Angels at Grauman's Chinese

Hollywood is famous around the world as the one-time center of the American film industry. Although Hollywood isn't the original home of the west coast film industry (nearby Edendale in Echo Park and Sycamore Grove in Highland Park both have stronger claims to that distinction), Hollywood has for almost a century continued to serve as a metonym for that industry (and inspire portmanteaus like Bollywood, Dollywood, Ghallywood, Kollywood, Mollywood, Nollywood, Tollywood, etc); even though that most of the film industry mostly long ago abandoned the neighborhood, primarily for the San Fernando Valley. Hollywood has done an excellent job of branding though. After all, you don't have other countries referring to their film industries as "Bedendale," "Nycamore Grove", or "the Ghalley."


The Hollywood neighborhood has expertly continued to pimp its association with the American film industry that formerly called it home where the other neighborhoods did not. In Edendale, the oldest studio was torn down and is now a vacant lot where the 2 Freeway meets Glendale. The old Mack Sennet Studio where Charlie Chaplin and Keystone Cops movies were made is now a public storage facility unceremoniously tucked behind a Jack in the Box. Hollywood, on the other hand, continues to bill itself as "The Entertainment Capital of the World" and adds industry-related tourist attractions like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which was installed long after the last pieces of tinsel in tinseltown had blown over the hills.

Today there are relatively few vestiges of Hollywood's cinematic past not installed merely to attract tourists -- of the film studios, only Paramount remains. Of the major label music industry, only Capitol Records remains. The aforementioned Walk of Fame -- to me, at least -- serves primarily as a testament to the ephemeral nature of stardom. Not to be hopelessly cynical but the first time I saw the names like Bryan Adams, Sean "Diddy" Combs, and Paula Abdul, I felt nothing but disinterest. However, for roughly ten million annual visitors it's presumably something terribly exciting and I honestly don't want to disparage that.



I would be very surprised, however, if much of Hollywood doesn't disappoint the celebrity or glamor-chaser because it really has little of either. Along a particularly acrid stretch Hollywood Boulevard, low-end shops hawk photos of celebrities alongside stripper-wear, I Love Lucy lunch boxes, tacky cell phone cases, novelty license plates, T-shirts and other chintz. People dressed rather unconvincingly as superheroes attempt to bully clueless tourists into tipping them for posing in pictures. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's saddened by the spectacle. 


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Map of Hollywood (available on T-shirts from Cal31.com)

But that's only Downtown Hollywood. Though a relatively small district of Los Angeles County, Hollywood has about as much wealth disparity as your average banana republic and there are many diverse neighborhoods within the district.

Hollywood can generally be divided into three (or four) sections: Hollywood proper, East Hollywood and the Hollywood Hills (which are sometimes further divided into Hollywood Hills East and Hollywood Hills West).The Hollywood Hills neighborhoods nestled in the hills and canyons above Hollywood proper have long attracted the slightly bohemian wealthy of LA. Gritty East Hollywood is home to two of LA's many officially-recognized ethnic enclaves, Little Armenia and Thai Town. The whole community boasts a diverse ethnic mixture, with large populations of Armenian, English, German, Guatemalan, Mexican, Russian, Salvadoran, and Ukranian-Americans. (Note: North Hollywood is a distinct district in the Valley which neither borders Hollywood nor is considered part of it. West Hollywood is an independent city and thus not part of Los Angeles.)

There are other bright spots too. Amoeba Music, for one! The Egyptian Theater is another treasure. The city's stand-up and theater scenes continue to be centered there still. It's also conveniently located geographically in Central LA alongside its neighbors Midtown to the south and the Mideast Side to the east. In addition, the San Fernando Valley lies to the north and the Westside lies to the west.


*****


EARLY HOLLYWOOD


Hollywood in 1903

In 1853, a lone adobe hut stood in what's now Hollywood but was then known as Nopalera. 17 years later the then-known-as Cahuenga Valley supported a growing agricultural community. It was named Hollywood by the so-called "Father of Hollywood," H. J. Whitley. The town grew into a largely Mormon community in the 1880s although its population remained small and separated from Los Angeles by a two-hour train ride. Hollywood incorporated as its own city in 1903. The following year, a majority of 113 voters voted to prohibit alcohol, except for valid medical purposes.


Hollywood in 1910
 
Director D. W. Griffith was the filmmaker to shoot in Hollywood with his film, In Old California, released on March 10, 1910. No matter that it couldn't initially be seen in Hollywood, since the town squares had also seen fit to ban movie theaters. Later in 1910, the sleepy town was annexed by LA, primarily lured by their their reliable water supply. Once part of Los Angeles, movie theaters could open there too.


Nestor Sudios in 1913

Nestor Motion Picture Company
was the first Hollywood studio to shoot a film locally -- an unnamed one, apparently -- on October 26, 1911, directed by Al Christie and David and William Horsley. Nestor was started by New Jersey–based Centaur Company to crank out low budget westerns. They established their west coast studio at the corner of Sunset and Gower, in what was nicknamed the Gower Gulch, after a nearby roadhouse. The studio was demolished in 1936.


HOLLYWOOD'S GOLDEN AGE


By 1915, most American films were made in Los Angeles (displacing New York City). From the 1920s to the 1940s it was the center of American film production. It continued to be the center of the American pop music industry through the 1950s.


AFTER "THE INDUSTRY" LEFT


Hollywood and Vine in 1965

By the 1960s, both of those industries had for the most part completely abandoned the neighborhood. Nonetheless, even today, it still draws tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of its long-faded glamor, thanks largely to savvy marketing. The first stars on the Walk of Fame had been installed a few years earlier, in 1958. Also in the 1960s, in the name of modernization, most of the beautiful art deco buildings in the area were destroyed to make way for boxier, less-stylized, modern structures. This move did little to attract tourists. However, head shops moved into the neighborhood and attracted hippies, who had at least as much a part in keeping Hollywood vibrant as the destructive redevelopers. 


YEARS OF DECLINE


Darby Back Stage Cut Up (1978) by Ruby Ray

By the 1970s, most of the old hotels had become flophouses. Newly arrived, largely Latino, residents began to move in, attracted by the cheap rents as most remaining whites moved out. Around the same time, many of the sex stores, stripper-wear merchants and porn theatres moved in, followed by an influx of prostitution and drugs. The punk scene arrived not long after, centered around venues like The Masque.


CULTS, CRACK AND CRIME

The once luxurious Garden Court Apartments, later nicknamed Hotel Hell (demolished 1984)
In the 1980s, the cults arrived. First, The Night People took over an abandoned bank, which came to be known colloquially as Hotel Hell. Soon after, Scientologists and Screamers joined them on the increasingly dystopian scene. During the Crack Era, community groups like the Ivar Hawks, Cherokee Condors, Las Palmas Lions, Wilcox Werewolves, Whitley Rangers and Hudson Howlers fought to reclaim a neighborhood that included areas known as Crack Alley and a bar outside of which some two dozen people were murdered over a very short period of time. Hollywood suffered even further from looting during the 1992 LA Riots


A COMEBACK OF SORTS


After decades of decline, the area has recently cleaned up considerably -- some would argue at the cost of its character. It is undeniably safer and more bustling than it has been in some time. Once vacant lots are now covered with parking structures, malls, apartments, high rises and restaurants. By the the mid-2000s, a number of nightclubs began attracting the trustafarian/hipster crowd and came to be known as the Cahuenga Crawl. Old fixtures like The Spotlight, Hollywood's last old school gay bar, have fallen by the wayside as gentrification and homogenization continues. In another sign of the times, some at the LA Film School have waged an all-out war on the older, beloved, and arguably more useful Hollywood Farmers' Market.

Although Hollywood today may have very little to do with its film history past, and although hallowed institutions are regularly demolished and shut down, it remains an vibrant region with diverse neighborhoods and thriving energy. And for every slick, hangar-sized sushi joint or chain restaurant, there's usually something more street level happening around the corner.

And now for the neighborhoods:


****
 
 
BEACHWOOD CANYON


Beachwood Canyon refers to a neighborhood nestled In the Hollywood Hills at the lower end of the actual Beachwood Canyon. Though mostly residential, it does have a small area known as Beachwood Village which includes a market, a coffee shop and stables. It has long been a popular neighborhood for celebrities, beginning with movie stars of the silent era. It's also home to the Lake Hollywood Reservoir, created by the 1924 construction of the Mulholland Dam.


BRONSON CANYON


The Bronson Canyon neighborhood lies beneath a Griffith Park-adjacent park of the same name. The nearby Bronson Caves have for many years been a popular shooting location -- primarily for low budget serials and films. The neighborhood itself is almost entirely residential.

 
CAHUENGA PASS


The Cahuenga Pass neighborhood is located in the lowest pass through the Hollywood Hills. Cahuenga was a Tongva village and the name means "place of the hill." It was the site of two Mexican skirmishes, the Battle of Cahuenga Pass in 1831 and the Battle of Providencia or Second Battle of Cahuenga Pass in 1845. 


CENTRAL HOLLYWOOD


Less touristy than Downtown Hollywood to the north, Central Hollywood is nonetheless home to Amoeba Music and the Cinerama Dome, built in 1963 and located across the street. It's also home to Hollywood's tallest building, Sunset Vine Tower, which was featured prominently in the 1974 disaster film, Earthquake. Later it was plagued with problems including the presence of asbestos, electrical fires and the popular perception of it being the world's biggest crackhouse. Nowadays it's been nicely, if expensively, refurbished. Central Hollywood is also home to the Gower Gulch shopping center and a Ross that continually looks like it was looted during a massive earthquake. 


CRESCENT HEIGHTS


Crescent Heights is the name of a tiny, mostly residential neighborhood located just above West Hollywood's Sunset Strip and below the mouth of Laurel Canyon.


 DAYTON HEIGHTS


Dayton Heights is a small neighborhood with a highly diverse scene, it would seem, as evinced by Chilean food (Rincon Chileno), Caribbean food (Cha Cha Cha), Japanese institutions (Bento Xpress and Fujiya Food Market), a leather bar (Faultline), a playhouse (Moth Theatre Company), Koreaninstitutions (Garam restaurant and the headquarters of the Korean Christian Press), the Slavic Baptist Church of HollywoodRomero's Rotisserie Chicken-N-Donuts, and Pizza Pauls.
 
 
DOWNTOWN HOLLYWOOD


Downtown Hollywood is centered around the intersection of Hollywood and Vine (aka Bob Hope Square). At the other end is Hollywood and Highland Center. Downtown is where most of the tourist traps are, including the Walk of Fame and Grauman's Chinese Theatre, whose forecourt famously features about 200 handprints, foot prints and autographs left by celebrities over the years. Across the street is the Egyptian Theatre, which opened five years earlier, in 1922.

 
FRANKLIN VILLAGE


One of Hollywood's several, nominal "villages," this one located at the base of Bronson Canyon. Unlike Virgil Village, Franklin Village actually feels a tiny bit more like village... or at least a cohesive collection of businesses and residents distinct from its neighbors. It's the home of Upright Citizens Brigade, Scientology’s Celebrity Centre [notice the "r" before "e" spelling which is posh, OK?] InternationalCounterpoint Records and Books, the 101 Coffee Shop and Hollywood Tower -- the inspiration for Disney's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror which itself inspired the first of Disney's based-on-a-ride films, 1997's Tower of Terror (followed by 2002's The Country Bears, 2003's The Haunted Mansion and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise).
 
HEL-MEL


Hel-Mel is an East Hollywood neighborhood named after the intersection of Heliotrope Drive and Melrose Avenue. It's home to LACC. And even though Pure Luck Vegan sadly closed (and is much missed), it still has the Bicycle Kitchen, Scoops, and tattoo and tobacco places. Plus there are several art galleries and hip here-today-gone-tomorrow music venues and thus it attracts a certain element... you know, militant bikologists.


 
HOLLYWOOD DELL



Hollywood Dell is a Hollywood Hills neighborhood that was home, at various times, to Mary Astor, Charlie Chaplin, Roy Rogers, members of The Rolling Stones, Minnie Driver, Marilyn Manson, Davy Jones, Goldie Hawn, Lindsay Lohan and Doris Roberts. One of the residences was prominently featured in the film, Double Indemnity, as the location of Philip Marlowe's home.

HOLLYWOOD HEIGHTS


Hollywood Heights
is roughly bounded by Highland Avenue, Outpost Drive, Franklin Avenue, and south of the beloved Hollywood Bowl. Within it is Frank Lloyd Wright's Samuel Freeman House, The Magic Castle, Yamashiro Restaurant, and the Highland-Camrose Bungalow Village. It's also home to the Highland Gardens Hotel, where Janis Joplin died. The High Tower Apartments were featured in films including The Long Goodbye and Villa Bonita.


HOLLYWOOD STUDIO DISTRICT


Only one major film studio remains in the Hollywood Studio District - Paramount, which moved into the facility in 1926. Sunset Bronson Studios, formerly Warner Brothers Studios, are occupied by KTLA, which was originally owned by Paramount. Other studios include Nickelodeon, EastWest, and Sunset Gower.


HOLLYWOODLAND


Hollywoodland
is home to the 45 foot tall Hollywood Sign mounted on Mount Lee. It was originally erected in 1923 to advertise Woodruff and Shoults's then-newly-developed Hollywoodland subdivision. The "land" part of the sign was removed in 1949 so that the remaining Hollywood sign could serve as an icon of the entire Hollywood district and entertainment industry. The Hollywood sign that stands today was erected in 1978 and quickly became popular in establishing shots for films set in LA. Because of its exposure, it attracts tourists eager to stand near a big sign. And the people living in the neighborhood, knowing this fact full well, often tear their hair and flesh, beat their breasts, and wake other pitiable demonstrations because of it.


KINGSLEY VISTA


Kingsley Vista
is a small, residential neighborhood hemmed in between Normandie, the 101 and Santa Monica Boulevard. It's home to a couple of restaurants including El Nuevo San Salvador Restaurante #1, Maria's Ramada, and Sasoun Bakery.

 
LAUREL CANYON


Laurel Canyon came to life as home of some of the burgeoning film industry's key photo-players and filmmakers. Subsequent generations of hippies in the '60s, cocaine cowboys in the '70s and yuppies in the '80s later moved to the continually desirable location. To read more about Laurel Canyon, click here.
 

LITTLE ARMENIA - Լիթլ Արմենիայում


Physically-speaking, Little Armenia is one of the grayest, grimmest and grimiest corners of largely gray and grimy East Hollywood. Boxy and outwardly undistinguished strip malls dominate the commercial corridors but close your eyes and open your nose and ears. Home to a large Armenian-American population (and other ethnicities), it boasts numerous Armenian restaurants and bakeries as well as other businesses.  To read more about Little Armenia, click here


LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN


Above Laurel Canyon is the neighborhood of Lookout Mountain. It was formerly home of the Air Force-managed 1352d Motion Picture Squadron who used it to make films for the Department of Defense and the Atomic Energy Commission from 1947 to 1963.

 
MELROSE


The Melrose District (or simply, "Melrose") attracts tourists and shoppers in search of subcultural uniforms and vintage clothing. Behind the busy shopping district are streets of modest, attractive bungalows mostly built in the early 1920s. There are currently efforts to re-name the neighborhood "Melrose Village" ...everything needs to be designated a village.

 
MELROSE HILL


In January 2003, Los Angeles Magazine named Melrose Hill one of LA's "10 Great Neighborhoods." With cultural establishments limited to the porn-showing Tiki Theatre porn theater and the Met Theatre, it wouldn't exactly rocket to the top of my list but it does have a healthy assortment of cuisines represented by Bangkok Market, La Casita Colombiana, Catalina's Market, Choeng Wun, Cinderella's, Khun Dom, Lucky Grocery Market, Mi Lindo Oaxaca, and now, Tid Lom Thai. There's also the Lemon Grove Recreation Center and park overlooking the noisy, smoggy 101 freeway.

 
MOUNT OLYMPUS


Mount Olympus
is a Hollywood Hills neighborhood developed by Russ Vincent in 1969. It was featured in the mercifully little-seen film, Hollywood Homicide. It's entrance is announced by a sign held aloft by faux-ancient-Greek columns that some want to destroy because they think it's tacky. And?

 
NICHOLS CANYON


Nichols Canyon is named after John G. Nichols, who served as mayor of LA twice and built the first brick home in the city, which he was also the first to expand the borders of. The Hollywood Hills neighborhood is entirely residential and is centered along winding Nichols Canyon Rd. One of the more famed residents was Father Yod, an ex-marine who founded the Source Family cult, which counted amongst its members, Sky Saxon of The Seeds.


 
OUTPOST ESTATES


Outpost Estates is a neighborhood in the Hollywood Hills centered along Outpost Drive. It was developed in the 1920s by by Charles E. Toberman. As with its neighbor, Hollywoodland, Outpost Estates also advertised itself with a large sign. Unlike Hollywoodland, whose sign (after the removal of the "land") remains a tourist destination, the once neon-lit Outpost sign lies in ruin, obscured by weeds.
 
 
SPAULDING SQUARE


Eight block Spaulding Square's borders are Fairfax Ave on the west, Stanley Avenue on the east, Sunset Blvd on the north, and Fountain Avenue on the south. Almost entirely residential, it is nonetheless home to Sam's on Sunset. It's named after architect Albert Spaulding, who developed the area between 1916 and 1926. Many of the early residents were silent film stars and filmmakers. In 1993, it was designated a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone.


 
SUNSET FLATS (aka HOLLYWOOD-SUNSET FLATS)

I'm not entirely sure about the location and boundaries of Sunset Flats - I think it refers to the neighborhood between Hollywood and Sunset, north of Spaulding Square. I'll add more when I'm positive. 


SUNSET HILLS

Sunset Hills is a tiny celebrity enclave looking down from the western Hollywood Hills region onto West Hollywood. According to its Wikipedia entry, "Now [when?] Sunset Hills boasts the largest concentration of celebrities residing in Los Angeles [citation needed]."
 
SUNSET JUNCTION



Sunset Junction, originally known as Sanborn Junction, is named after a Pacific Electric Railway stop on the border of Silver Lake and Hollywood. Several neighborhood staples such as the Akbar, El Cid, Solutions(with the "Elliot Smith Mural") and the Sunset Junction Street Fair are almost always considered to be within Silver Lake but according to both the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council and the placement of the City of Los Angeles's Hollywood neighborhood signs suggest otherwise. Further west in the neightborhood are the Little Temple, Point-Point Joint and Sheila Klein's outdoor lamppost installation called Vermonica, which appeared fifteen years before Chris Burden's similar and better-known Urban Light sculpture at LACMA.


SUNSET PLAZA


Sunset Plaza
is a Hollywood Hills West neighborhood presumably centered along Sunset Plaza Drive which winds up just about the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood all the way to Wonderland Ave.

 
THAI TOWN - ไทยทาวน์


Los Angeles has the largest Thai population outside of Thailand. It is also home to the world's first Thai Town which is the cultural, commercial and culinary heart of Thai-America. Every year the streets are closed to cars for a large-scale Songkran festival/สงกรานต์. To read more about Thai Town, click here.


THEATER ROW


The film industry may have long ago abandoned Hollywood but live theater continues to flourish there. Theater Row is home to Artworks Theater, Celebration Theatre, Elephant Theatre Company, Hudson Theatres, McCadden Place Theatre, National Comedy Theatre, Open First Theatre, The Blank's 2nd Stage Theatre, The Complex Hollywood, The Lounge Theatre, The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, Theatre East at The Lex Theatre, and Unknown Theatre
 
 
VIRGIL VILLAGE


Virgil Village is a neighborhood in East Hollywood with significant numbers of Pinoy and Central American-Americans. It's located between Hoover, Santa Monica, Vermont and the 101 (bisected by Melrose). It's home of Amalia's Guatemalan Restaurant, Cafe 50's Hollywood, California Bowl, Wah's Golden Hen, Golfo De Fonseca Restaurant, La Luna Banquet Hall, and Taqueria El Charrito. It's served by several tiny markets including Lee & Oh Foodmart, Reny Market and Virgil Market. It's also home to the attractive Ukrainian Orthodox Church of St Vladimir and the well-known karaoke dive bar, the Smog Cutter. The designation was coined around 1994 and soon after, Huell Howser filmed an episode of Visiting... with Huell Howser devoted to it. 


So hooray for Hollywood! Now, armed with a few tantalizing facts about Hollywood, vote for Hollywood (or any other Los Angeles neighborhoods), by clicking here. To vote for any Los Angeles County communities to be covered on the blog, vote here. And finally, to vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here. And remember -- you're never too hood for Hollywood!

*****

Follow me at ericbrightwell.com

California Fool's Gold -- A South Los Angeles Westside Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 29, 2011 08:54pm | Post a Comment
LETS SHOW THESE FOOLS HOW WE DO THIS ON THAT WESTSIDE

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

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

Pendersleigh & Sons' Map of South LA's Westside

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

Though the area is mostly Mexican-American, it's home to a large number of diverse black communities; working class, middle class and upper class. And though most of the black residents are of unspecified West African ancestry, there are large populations of Caribbeans, especially Belizeans and Jamaicans. In addition there are significant populations of Filipinos, GermansGuatemalans, Irish, ItalianJapanese, Koreans, Salvadorans and Vietnamese who all call the area home.


WESTSIDE (HIS)STORY

For thousands of years, the area that now makes up South LA's Westside, along with most of LA County, was part of the Tongva's 4,000 square mile homeland. It was later conquered by Spain. After Mexico's independence, it was part of Mexico. During the Rancho Period, most of what's now the Westside was set aside as public land, rather than state or privately-owned property. The area remained more agricultural for much of its history as LA and other communities developed around it. 


EARLY 20TH CENTURY

a

South LA's Westside is home to the University of Southern California, founded in 1880. In 1906, the approval of the construction of the Port of Los Angeles and a change in state law allowed the city to annex the Shoestring, or Harbor Gateway, a narrow and crooked strip of land leading from Los Angeles south towards the port. As the wealthy were building stately mansions in West Adams and Jefferson Park, the white working class was establishing itself in Crenshaw and Hyde Park


DEVELOPMENT OF THE WESTSIDE


Development of South LA's Westside mostly began in the northern part of the region, around the turn of the 20th century. In the mid-1920s through the late 1930s, housing boomed in most of the areas north of Slauson.  During World War II, when LA turned into the major center for the production of aircraft, war supplies and ammunitions, thousands of immigrants, both black and white, moved to South Los Angeles from the Midwest and South to work in factory jobs. However, there were still large swathes of areas devoted to agriculture and oil extraction on the Westside up through the middle part of the century.

THE WESTSIDE POST DESEGREGATION

South LA's Eastside was home to two of LA's oldest black neighborhoods, South Central in the north and Watts in the south. Under racially restrictive covenants, blacks were only allowed to own property within the area hemmed in by Main, Slauson, Alameda and Washington; in Watts, and a few other small areas such as Oakwood in Venice. As a result of 1948's Shelley v. Kraemer, the Supreme Court banned used of racist restrictive covenants. As a result, the black population of both areas began to pour out of their overcrowded confines into the rest of South LA's Eastside, the southern parts (i.e. Mid-City) of Midtown Los Angeles, and the northern neighborhoods of South LA's Westside. According to Roy Porter and David Keller's There And Back, "During that time the west side was Vermont Avenue to Western, and there were very few black people living in the area. Where the Crenshaw Center is now was wilderness." Before long the area was predominantly black. 


THE HARBOR FREEWAY and THE SAN DIEGO FREEWAY


The Harbor Freeway (the 110) began construction in the 1950s. It wasn't completed until 1970. Running parallel to Main Street, it supplanted it was that traditional dividing line between the Eastside and Westside in South LA. Meanwhile, construction of the San Diego Freeway (the 405) began in 1957 and was complete by 1969. As a result, the inland communities of Alondra Park, Del Aire, Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, and Lennox were in some sense separated from the South Bay which they'd previously been considered a part of - despite all being landlocked.  


THE "NEW" SOUTH CENTRAL - MIGRATION FROM THE EASTSIDE

Most of South LA's Westside remained overwhelmingly white until the 1960s, when upwardly mobile black residents began to make their homes in Baldwin Hills and Crenshaw in significant numbers. As blacks moved into new areas, the name "South Central" was no longer only applied to the tiny, historically black neighborhood centered on South Central Avenue, but became racially coded shorthand for any black neighborhood south of Pico Boulevard. "South Central" was ultimately embraced as a badge of honor by many residents of the region -- no matter how far they were from the actual, historical South Central.


The construction of the Santa Monica Freeway formed the northern boundary of the "new" South Central, providing a boundary beween the mostly upper-middle class blacks of Midtown Los Angeles from the mostly middle and working-class blacks to the south.

After the Watts Uprising in 1965, many remaining middle class blacks left South LA's Eastside for safer areas. In 1969, the Crips formed and in 1972, the Bloods followed - both in the Eastside. Carson, Inglewood, Ladera Heights, View Park and Windsor Hills became the most popular destinations for blacks leaving the Eastside.

Also in the 1970s, South LA's manufacturing base declined precipitously. The workforce had, till then, primarily been comprised of unionized black workers. After many of them left for the Westside, their void was largely filled by newly-arrived Mexicans and Central Americans. In the 1980s, the black population of South LA's Westside continued to grow.


1990s AFTER THE RIOTS

After the LA Riots of 1992, which began in the Westside intersection of Florence and Normandie, many black residents moved away from the most blighted areas of South Los Angeles. The Eastside was hit especially hard, with communities like Compton, South Central, Watts and most others losing their black majorities. The Westside, with the comparatively affluent communities in the greater Baldwin Hills, Crenshaw and West Adams districts remained desirable for blacks and most retained their black majorities. Today, South LA's Westside boasts the largest number of predominantly black neighborhoods in Los Angeles County although the poorer neighborhoods in core of the region have increasingly witnessed migration of Mexican, Guatemalan and Salvadoran immigrants in the last two decades.


NAMING NEIGHBORHOODS

For many years and for many residents of South Los Angeles, "South Central" or, alternately, "The Hood"... or even "The Ghetto" remain the preferred term, one despite its largely negative connotations in the media, that was embraced with affection and pride. In mainstream media, however, "South Central" became a blanket term for all black and Latino neighborhoods between the 10 freeway and the Harbor - one that lazily painted the many ethnically, economically, historically and culturally diverse communities in the area with the same brush. "South Central" was shorthand for gang violence, endemic poverty and urban blight. For the most part, the only time the local media bothers to venture into the area is when there's a car chase or if the LA Weekly is ranking Los Angeles's top ten Soul Food restaurants. Otherwise, for most Angelenos who don't live in it, it remains a place of the imagination and not reality -- an imagination has increasingly little to do with reality.

In the 2000s, the Eighth District Empowerment Congress began the "Naming Neighborhoods Project" began an effort to identify and celebrate South LA's varied neighborhoods with new designations that were meant to foster a sense of community pride and reflect local identity. The Westside neighborhoods that were born as a result include Angeles Mesa, Arlington Park, Baldwin Vista, Cameo Plaza, Crenshaw Manor, King Estates, Magnolia Square, Manchester Square, Morningside Circle, Vermont Vista, and Westpark Terrace.

and now for the neighborhoods:

*****


ADAMS-NORMANDIE


Whereas many of the neighborhoods of south LA have fanciful names seemingly designed to maximize their appeal, Adams-Normandie is one of those neighborhoods unimaginatively named after the intersection around which it is centered. It's home of the Loren Miller Recreation Center, several churches and Mexican restaurants. Part of the Historic West Adams District, Adams-Normandie's Van Buren Place Historic District is home to many beautiful old homes. It's the most densely populated neighborhood in South LA's Westside and the population is roughly 62% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 25% black, 6% white and 5% Asian. 


ALONDRA PARK (AKA EL CAMINO VILLAGE)


Alondra Park is also widely referred to as El Camino Village, as it's the site of El Camino College. The population is 35% Latino (mostly Mexican), 26% white, 19% black and 15% Asian (mostly Vietnamese). It's sometimes considered South LA and sometimes South Bay


ANGELUS MESA (AKA ANGELES MESA)


Angelus Mesa is a neighborhood in the Crenshaw area -- a product of the Eighth District Empowerment Congress's "Naming Neighborhoods Project." Its Angeles Mesa Branch Library was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. It's also home to the Angelus Mesa-name-incorporating Angeles Mesa Park and Angeles Mesa Elementary - although their names are spelled in keeping with the rest of Los Angeles. I'm not yet sure what accounts for Angelus Mesa's odd spelling, but at least as early as 1920 there was the Angelus Mesa Land Co. The neighborhood is home to the tallest structure in the region outside the USC campus -- the 12-story Good Shepherd Manor, built in 1971.



ARLINGTON PARK


Arlington Park is a narrow, Crenshaw area neighborhood between Leimert Park and King Estates. It's named after Arlington Ave and is a product of the Eighth District Empowerment Congress's "Naming Neighborhoods Project."


ATHENS


The population of Athens is 54% black (largely Belizean), 40% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 3% Asian and 1% white. I'm not sure what it's supposed association is the ancient, capital of Greece. Where that city has numerous ancient monuments, Athens, Los Angeles boasts Los Angeles Southwest College, Helen Keller Park, Chester Washington Golf Course and not a lot else - unless I'm missing something. The main destination for pilgrims to the neighborhood is the house at 1418 W 126th Street, which was Craig Jones's house in the film Friday.


BALDWIN HILLS


Baldwin Hills is sometimes referred to as "The Black Beverly Hills" for his long-established, rich, black population. Today the area is 71% black, 17% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran) and 5% Asian. It's the home to the first Olympic Village, built in 1932 for the LA games. In 2007, BET began airing a TV program called Baldwin Hills, about the lives of rich, black teenagers from the area.


BALDWIN HILLS ESTATES 


Within Baldwin Hills is subdistrict known as Baldwin Hills Estates. The mostly Modernist homes sit on streets like Don Felipe and Don Luis in the Baldwin Hills Estates subdivision, earning a portion the nickname "The Dons." 


BALDWIN VILLAGE


Baldwin Village was originally nicknamed "The Jungle" for its tropical trees and foliage. In 1969, a member of the Chicago Blackstone Rangers known as T. Rodgers moved to Los Angeles and started a chapter in the West Adams/Jefferson Park area known as Black P Stone Rangers. Eventually there were hundreds of that gang's members in The Jungle. As a crime-ridden area sullying the otherwise posh reputation of the Baldwin Hills area, "The Jungle" took on a different meaning - that of a wild, dangerous and untamed place -- one of the cuts even became known universally as "Sherm Alley." As a result, in the 1980s people began promoting the use of the Baldwin Village name, hoping to gain more association with nearby, wealthy Baldwin Hills (and the nearby, by-then renamed Baldwin Hills Village). It was famously featured in the climax of Training Day


BALDWIN VISTA


Baldwin Vista is a neighborhood in the Baldwin Hills area that lies north of Coliseum Street and west of La Brea Boulevard.  There are many mid-century Modernist homes built at the time of the neighborhood's development in the 1940s and '50s. It's designation is a result of the Eighth District Empowerment Congress's "Naming Neighborhoods Project."


CAMEO PLAZA


Cameo Plaza is a small neighborhood in the northwest corner of South LA, bordering the Westside. It's situated on the western edge of the Baldwin Hills range and is also known as Cameo Woods, after gated condominium complex within it's borders. It's another product of the Eighth District Empowerment Congress's "Naming Neighborhoods Project."


CANTERBURY KNOLLS


Canterbury Knolls is a primarily residential neighborhood. Although the name is not widely recognized, the near fatal beating of Reginald Denny by a group of six men took place there. It's also home of the Slauson Super Mall, featured in the Tupac video for "To Live and Die in LA." To read more, click here.


CHESTERFIELD SQUARE


Chesterfield Square is home to Chesterfield Square Park. The population is roughly 59% black, 37% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 2% white and 1% Asian. At the time of writing it suffers from the highest rate of violent crime in LA county. It was formerly the home of special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen, it's where Good Fred Hair Oil was invented, and is home to a stove restoration place called Antique Stove Heaven. To read more about it, click here!


CRENSHAW MANOR


Crenshaw Manor is a primarily residential westside neighborhood between West Adams to the north and the Baldwin Hills and Crenshaw areas to the south. The population is roughly 71% black, 17% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran) and 5% Asian. It's also a product of the Eighth District Empowerment Congress's "Naming Neighborhoods Project."


DEL AIRE


Del Aire is a South LA neighborhood that's sometimes considered part of the South Bay, although it's landlocked.  It lies at the interchange of the 105 and the 405. It has the lowest crime rate in the region and the population is 46% Latino (mostly Mexican), 34% white (mostly German), 9% Asian (mostly Filipino), 7% black. 


EXPOSITION PARK


Exposition Park (originally known as Agricultural Park as it was an agricultural fairground where people raced camels) is home to the the California Science Center, California African-American MuseumLos Angeles Memorial ColiseumLos Angeles Swimming Stadium, Natural History Museum and the Exposition Park Rose Garden, to name a few. As with University Park to the north, some business owners and organizations are essentially trying to rip one of South LA's main cultural centers from the region by refining the area as part of Downtown Los Angeles, even though nearly 3 km separate the regions at their closest points. 


GARDENA


Gardena is an inland city with a long-established and pronounced Japanese-American presence and character. The population is highly diverse - 32% Latino (mostly Mexican), 27% Asian (mostly Japanese and Korean), 25% black, and 12% white. There are several stores with large selections of Japanese books, music and movies as well as popular and highly-rated Japanese restaurants. To read more about it, click here.


GRAMERCY PARK


Gramercy Park is home to several churches, mini-markets, and auto shops. It's home to Jesse Owens Park, named after the famous black track and field athlete who famously annoyed Adolf Hitler by taking home four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, thereby calling into question some of the diminutive führer's theories about blacks' supposed physical inferiority. The neighborhood is 86% black (largely Jamaican), 12% Latino (mostly Mexican) and 1% white.


HAWTHORNE


Hawthorne is a diverse city lying south of Inglewood with a population that's 44% Latino (mostly Mexican and Guatemalan), 32% black, 13% white, 8% Asian (mostly Filipino). The entirely landlocked inland city tends to represent the South Bay or Harbor Area despite lying almost entirely east of the 405. The city is most famous for having been the hometown of The Beach Boysdios (malos), and Emitt Rhodes of The Merry-Go-Round.


HYDE PARK


Established in 1887 as a stop on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway's Harbor Subdivision, Hyde Park is one of the oldest neighborhoods in LA. It was finally incorporated as its own city in 1922, only to be annexed by LA in 1923. It's generally considered to be part of the larger Crenshaw area and is home to Crenshaw High School. The population is 66% black, 27% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 2% white and 1% Asian.

INGLEWOOD


Although Inglewood was, as with its southern neighbors, traditionally considered to be part of the South Bay, due to its mention in songs by Westside-representers like Damani, Dr. Dre, Mack 10 and (East Harlem native) Tupac Shakur, "The Wood" is probably the most widely internationally recognized community in South LA's Westside. What's more, many films that are set anywhere in South Los Angeles are often, in fact, filmed in Inglewood I suspect because -- despite its nickname of "Inglehood," it's actually quite safe, well-kept and middle-class and looks sort of like the poorer communities that it stands in for albeit with larger, better maintained yards and houses and a slightly more traditionally urban feel in part provided by a couple of not-especially-tall skyscrapers: Inglewood City Hall, Comerica Building, and the La Cienega Business Center. Occasionally films are actually set in Inglewood, like The Wood

Ironically, Inglewood was once a hotbed of white supremacism and, as late as 1931, the Klan still maintained a chapter there. In 1960, there were 63,390 residents of Inglewood, only 29 of whom were black. Embarrassingly recently (22 July , 1970) Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Max F. Deutz ordered Inglewood schools to desegregate. Large numbers of Inglewood's white population left as a result and the black population grew significantly. Beginning in the 1980s, the Inglewood's Latino population skyrocketed. Today Inglewood's population is 46% black, 46% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran) and 4% white. 


JEFFERSON PARK


The development of Jefferson Park began around the turn of the 20th century. Built on the hills, Craftsman and Neo-Georgian styles attracted wealthier Angelenos. After World War II, numerous creoles from Louisiana moved there and it was nicknamed "Little New Orleans." By the 1950s, the area attracted many black and Japanese-American families (who after their internment during World War II, often relocated to different parts of LA than where they had lived previously). Today the population is approximately 47% black, 45% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 3% Asian, and 3% white.


KING ESTATES


King Estates is bounded by Dr. Marting Luther King Jr. Boulevard on the south and Exposition Boulevard on the north. It's also home to the Frederick Douglass Academy High School, named afer another famous black civil rights activist. I couldn't find any demographic information for the neighborhood but the presence of Taqueria & Bakery Oaxaca suggest the likely presence of Latinos. It's existence as a neighborhood is a result of the Eighth District Empowerment Congress's "Naming Neighborhoods Project."


LAWNDALE


Lawndale is a highly diverse city (52% Latino (mostly Mexican), 22% white, 12% black, and 11% Asian (mostly Vietnamese)). It is usually considered part of the South Bay or The Harbor despite being separated from both bodies of water by other coastal cities and neighborhoods. It was subdivided in 1905 by Charles B. Hopper who named it after a Chicago suburb. Lots sold slowly and different promotions were tried such as promoting Lawndale as a chicken raising area. By the 1980s, it (like most of the inland cities traditionally lumped in with the South Bay) was mostly home to working class people involved in nearby industries rather than wealthy beachfront property owners.


LEIMERT PARK


Leimert Park is often said to be the "Soul of LA." It was originally developed in 1928 by Walter H. Leimert. For many years the neighborhood has been a major center of the LA's black arts scene. There are several jazz, blues and hip-hop venues (Project Blowed was begun there) and the area known as Leimert Park Village has a quaint, small town feel. The population is approximately 80% black, 11% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), and 5% Asian. It's also the birthplace of rapper Dom Kennedy.


LENNOX


Lennox is a a Westside neighborhood next to LAX sometimes considered part of the South Bay, sandwiched between the much larger Inglewood and Hawthorne. The businesses include, as is the case in most of South LA's Westside, numerous mini-markets and auto shops. The population is also more aligned with the Westside than the South Bay - 89% Latino (mostly Mexican and Guatemalan), 4% black, and 4% white (mostly Irish). 


MAGNOLIA SQUARE


Magnolia Square hemmed in by Century, the 110, the 105 and Vermont. I'm not sure what the name is derived from (It's home to Little Green Acres Square). In addition to the usual selection of fast food chains, liquor stores, mini markets, churches, auto shops there's also It's All Good K'afe and Outdoors Bar B Que Grill. It's a product of the Eighth District Empowerment Congress's "Naming Neighborhoods Project."


MANCHESTER SQUARE


Although the name doesn't ring many bells for most, (or makes people think of the LAX-adjacent neighborhood in Westchester of the same name), Manchester Square is the birthplace of Art’s Chili Dog Stand in 1939, the 8 Tray Crips in 1974, the LA riots in 1992 and was the home of notorious serial killer known as The Grim Sleeper. The population is roughly 79% black, 19% Latino (mostly Mexican and Guatemalan) and 1% white. It's a product of the Eighth District Empowerment Congress's "Naming Neighborhoods Project."


MORNINGSIDE CIRCLE


Morningside Circle was the first neighborhood I blogged about after instituting a poll to determine which communities I would explore and write about, back in Season 2 (2008).  The neighborhood officially came into being as a result of the the Eighth District Empowerment Congress's "Naming Neighborhoods Project." Some of the interesting spots include the Krst Unity Center of Afrakan Spiritual Science and Smokee Joe's Bar-B-Q Grill. It's a product of the Eighth District Empowerment Congress's "Naming Neighborhoods Project." To read more about Morningside Circle, click here.


UNIVERSITY PARK


University Park was established around USC, which (founded in 1880) is California's oldest private research university. Today USC enrolls more foreign students than any other school in the US. Diversity is reflected in local population as well, 48% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 26% white, 16% Asian, and 7% black. 

Sadly (to me) there has been a movement led by several organizations and businesses to redefine University Park (and  Exposition Park) as being part of Downtown, which is visible in the distance and separated from catercorner University Park by the 10 and 110 freeways. Such a move would rob South LA's Westside of its heart and soul by carving out the region's birthplace and most diverse neighborhood.

Aside from Angeles Mesa and Inglewood (if one considers that to be part of the Westside), it's home to all of the region's tallest buildings: Waite Phillips Hall of Education (1968), Fluor TowerWebb Tower (Webb Tower), Radisson Midcity Hotel (1975), and Seeley G. Mudd Building (1982).

Other attractions in the neighborhood include the Lab Gastropub, the Hoover Recreation Center, St. Mary's College, St. James Park, Estrella Park, Bacaro LA Wine Bar, the Estonian House, Bing Theatre, Eileen Norris Cinema, the Spielberg Stage, and the George Lucas Building.


UNIVERSITY EXPOSITION PARK WEST


University Exposition Park West is home to establishments like Denker Recreation Center and James A. Foshay Learning Center. Although there is a good variety of local restaurants, there's also a higher-than-average number of fast food chains represented, as well as liquor stores.


VERMONT KNOLLS


The population of Vermont Knolls is about 55% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 43% Black, 1% White, and 1% Asian. There are several mini-markets, schools, fast food joints and churches.  It's where Paul Ferrara grew up, the director of the Jim Morrison-starring HWY - An American Pastoral and Doors photographer.


VERMONT-SLAUSON


Vermont-Slauson is named after the intersection of Vermont and Slauson Avenues, the site of the Vermont-Slauson Shopping Center (established in 1981) and a Taco Bell. There are also several burger joints, auto shops and mini-markets, as is common with most of the region. The population is 61% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 37% black, and 1% white.


VERMONT SQUARE


Vermont Square is home to Vermont Square Park - as well as Julian C. Dixon Park, named after the late politician. The Vermont Square Library is one of LA's three remaining Carnegie libraries. There are also many barber shops, beauty salons, auto shops, burgers, mini markets, and donut shops. The population -- 57% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 39% Black, 1% white, and 1% Asian -- includes many Belizeans, a fact reflected in the presence of Caribbean Market and Pelican Belizean Market. It's also home to the progressive Streetlight Cinema.


VERMONT VISTA


Vermont Vista is part of the Shoestring Annex. It's home of the Algin Sutton Recreation Area (not sure who Algin Sutton is), and the Bret Harte Preperatory Middle School (named after the poet, not the wrestler). Alongside the usual assortment of auto shops, small markets, there are several BBQ places. The current population is 52% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 45 % black, 1% white, and 1% Asian. It's a product of the Eighth District Empowerment Congress's "Naming Neighborhoods Project."


VIEW PARK-WINDSOR HILLS


View Park-Windsor Hills is a wealthy, mostly black neighborhood -- approximately 87% black (including many Jamaicans), 5% white (mostly Italian), 3% Latino (mostly Mexican), and 2% Asian. It was originally developed in the 1920s and then largely redeveloped in the 1930s with many Modern, Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean homes (often with pools) constructed. Due to the large numbers of doctors, as with Los Feliz it was nicknamed "Pill Hill." The rich black Angelenos moved in after desegregation was finally enforced in today it's still the wealthiest neighborhood in South LA's Westside. It's also the oldest and most educated. It's home to several parks (View Park, Monteith Park, and Ladera Park). Adding to it's posh reputation is Windsor Hills Math-Science-Aerospace Magnet School. Adding to its desirability are Cafe Soul and Gospel and Gumbo.


VILLAGE GREEN


Village Green is a condo community (and surrounding neighborhood) between the Baldwin Hills and the West Adams neighborhood. It was originally known as "Baldwin Hills Village" and ground broke on construction in 1941. The lead architect of the apartments was Reginald D. Johnson. In 1972, the apartments were converted to condos and renamed Village Green.


WEST ADAMS


West Adams is a neighborhood with many art galleries and studios, boutiques and a busy commercial corridor. The West Adams neighborhood is located west of the larger Historic West Adams District (which includes several Westside and Mid-City neighborhoods). It's population is approximately 56% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 38% black, 2% white and 2% Asian. It's also home to the famous Club Fais Do-Do, which used to be a popular haunt for the likes of Billy Preston, John Coltrane, Sam Cooke, and yours truly.


WEST ADAMS TERRACE-KINNEY HEIGHTS-BERKELEY SQUARE


People apparently can't seem to come to a consensus about what to call this neighborhood in the Historic West Adams District jeand it's often lumped in with Jefferson Park to the south. It's home to Gramercy Park, 2nd Avenue Park, Johnny's Pastramiand the lengthily named Exceptional Childrens Foundation School for Retarded Children. Its William Andrews Clark Memorial Library was built around the collection of rare books left by the son of a railroad baron/banker/politician. There are many nice Victorian homes, including the beatiful Joseph Dupuy Residence (now the South Seas House, for its Polynesian influence). There's also the Wilfandel Club House, the oldest black women's clubhouse in the city.


WEST PARK TERRACE


West Park Terrace is sometimes lumped in with its southern neighbor, Gramercy Park. It's a product of the Eighth District Empowerment Congress's "Naming Neighborhoods Project." As far as my research shows, there's no Westpark there, although there is Saint Andrews Recreation and Park. Local businesses that caught my attention include Toffee Sensations, Happy Fish Market, Bottom Line Cocktail Lounge, El Papagallo Bar, Mary and Junior Breakfast and Soul, M&M Soul Food, and Sassy Celebrity Weaves. Soul food, breakfast and toffee? Sounds like heaven.


WESTMONT


Westmont is a neighborhood located just west of the Shoetring Annex, near the intersection of the 105 and 110. It's neighbored by Athens, Inglewood, Gramercy Park, Magnolia Square, Manchester Square, West Park Terrrace, and Magnolia Square. The population is roughly 58% black, 39% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 1% white and 1% Asian. It's home to many small markets, Kindle's Donuts, Ralph's Drive-In Liquor, Lucy's Drive In, Taco Vaquero, Factory, Monster Burger, and Salaam West Bakery

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And so Westsidaz, to vote for any communities in the Westside or any other Los Angeles County communities to be covered on the blog, vote here. To vote for Westside neighborhoods or any other Los Angeles neighborhoods, click here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here. Till next time, keep bumpin' and grindin' like a slow jam, it's Westside!

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