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Taste of the Mideast Side -- at the Los Angeles County Store

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 8, 2014 04:00pm | Post a Comment





If there are regular readers of my column here on the Amoeblog, they've probably seen some of the hand-drawn and hand-painted maps which I include in my series of Southland explorations I call California Fool's Gold. Right now a series of new maps are on display at the Los Angeles County Store in East Hollywood. None, except the Los Feliz map, have been the subject of Eric's Blog entries yet. 

Eric Brightwell Cartography Art Show Los Angeles County Store

The Los Angeles County Store is a great retail shop which features only goods designed and manufactured in Los Angeles County. The opening has already passed but the maps can still be seen in person if you head over there soon -- the show ends on 21 September


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Map of the Mideast Side (3rd Edition)

I refer to the set of paintings as Taste of the Mideast Side -- a reference to Taste of the Eastside, a four-year-old food event which despite its name never features restaurants from the Eastside unless you clarify that you're talking about the Eastside of Central Los Angeles (aka the original Westside). By the way, there is an older pre-existing event called The Taste of East L.A. which as its name correctly suggests, features restaurants from East Los Angeles -- a neighborhood actually located in the Eastside
Anyway, here are the maps included in the show (which you can vote for me to write about here). 

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Edendale

Edendale was subdivided around 1903. It was the original home of Los Angeles's film studios, before Hollywood. The first studio, Selig Polyscope Company, was demolished and the arrival of the 2 Freeway made the neighborhood decidedly less edenic. The old Mack Sennett Keystone Studio still stands behind a Jack in the Box -- utilized for public storage. Although the name has faded from most memories (a post office branch still bears it) there have been efforts to play up associations with it as with the Edendale restaurant and bar (in the Ivanhoe tract of Silver Lake) and the Mabel Normand Stage in Hollywood, which was recently renamed Mack Sennett Studios).


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Elysian Heights 

Elysian Heights was subdivided around 1890. The northern corner was home to the Semi Tropic Spiritualists, a 19th Century group whose beliefs mixed the progressive and supernatural. The neighborhood later became known colloquially as "Red Hill" for the many anarcho-communists who made it home. Perhaps the most famous resident of Elysian Heights was a gray tabby named Room 8, who reportedly visited Elysian Heights Elementary every school day for many years and became a national celebrity.


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Franklin Hills

Franklin Hills seceded from Los Feliz around 1988. Its most iconic figure is the Shakespeare Bridge, the original which was built in 1926 (although it was rebuilt in 1998 after the Northridge earthquake). Beneath the bridge is the John Lautner-designed Midtown School. It was home to two twin homes owned by Roy and Walt Disney in the 1920s.  To read more about it, click here.


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Ivanhoe tract

The Ivanhoe tract was subdivided in 1877, when it was located just north of Los Angeles (the border of which then corresponded to Fountain Avenue). It was developed by Hugo Reid, a Mexican-American born in who claimed that it reminded him of Scotland, where he was born. The Ivanhoe name (a reference to Glaswegian author Sir Walter Scott's 18th Century novel, Ivanhoe) lives on in Ivanhoe Elementary, the Ivanhoe Reservoir, and the Ivanhoe and Scottish related street names like Kenilworth, Locksley, Rowena, Waverly, and others. 


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Pico-Union

Pico-Union began as Pico Heights, which was subdivided in 1887 in what was then Southwest Los Angeles. It was originally an exclusive, white, Protestant neighborhood an was annexed by Los Angeles in 1896. In the 1910s a number of Japanese-Americans moved in and white flight began. Mexicans and Greeks followed and there are still vestiges of the latter population such as the Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox CathedralPapa Cristo's, and the Los Angeles Greek Fest. The neighborhood was renamed Pico-Union in 1970 by the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), who wished to remove any negative associations that Pico Heights was perceived to have acquired. Today it's mostly home to Central Americans, especially Salvadorans


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Solano Canyon

Solano Canyon was -- along with Bishop, La Loma, and Palo Verde -- one of the Mexican colonias of Chavez Ravine. The latter three were demolished and the displaced residents were promised public housing in the planned Elysian Park Heights which was to have been designed by great Modernist architects Richard Neutra and Robert Alexander. Unfortunately for the residents, Elysian Park Heights and all public housing came to a halt when a concerted Right Wing effort tarred such efforts to house the poor and returning war veterans as Communistic. The land was instead given to the Brooklyn Dodgers, who covered it with a massive parking lot and a tiny baseball stadium. 



Pendersleigh & Cartography's map of Victor Heights


Victor Heights has named after water baron Victor Beaudry, who subdivided the neighborhood around 1886. It is home to the Eastside Market Italian Deli, one of the few remnants of Little Italy (and which is named after the Eastside because it began in Lincoln Heights), wandering peafowl, the Teardrop Locos gang, the art deco Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center, Los Angeles Building, and the former headquarters of the Metropolitan Water District, designed by William Pereira. Because of its proximity to Chinatown and large Chinese-American population, many of the street signs are written in English and Chinese. To read more about it, click here.



Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Westlake

Westlake Park was originally the old Westside's counterpart to the Eastside's Eastlake Park. Eastlake was located in what was then called East Los Angeles but was re-named Lincoln Heights in 1917. Westlake Park was renamed MacArthur Park and although many will argue that the Westlake and MacArthur Park neighborhoods are one-in-the-same although in my experience, the name MacArthur Park is primarily applied to the immediate surroundings whereas, depending on whether or not one lives east or west of Alvarado, they're almost more likely to claim Downtown or Koreatown, respectively. It's the second most densely-populated neighborhood in Los Angeles (after Koreatown) and despite it's declined fashionability, there are many attractions to be experienced (some marked in red on my map).



The Artist and critic Alan "The Dingus" Gudguy having his paw treated like a stress ball


*****

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 Los Feliz, The Mideast Side's Pill Hill

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 16, 2010 12:00pm | Post a Comment


Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Los Feliz

Los Feliz is a neighborhood in Los Angeles' Mideast Side and Hollywood area, neighbored by Beachwood Canyon, Griffith Park, Atwater Village, Silver Lake, Franklin Hills, Sunset Junction, Little Armenia, Thai Town and Franklin Village. To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods to be covered on the blog, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, vote here. To vote for Orange County communities, vote here.

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