Ukrainian Block Party -- Huun-Huur Tu and DakhaBrakha at Royce Hall

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 27, 2015 01:41pm | Post a Comment

We're spoiled for entertainment choices here in Los Angeles; sometimes I feel almost paralyzed by cultural options and end up in an almost catatonic state listening to old episodes of Dragnet. That almost happened the other day, when I was torn between whether to go to KDAY’s Fresh Fest or Center for the Art of Performance's Ukrainian Block Party. South Los Angeles's Westside or the Westside WestsideUCLA territory or USC? The 2 or the 92?

Royce Hall at Sunset by Karan Mehta

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A Look Back at the Depeche Mode Riots

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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California Fool's Gold's Guide to Los Angeles's Revival Cinemas

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 22, 2014 10:34am | Post a Comment

Hollywood Cinerama, Los Angeles, 2003 (image credit: Hiroshi Sugimoto)

No city on Earth is more closely associated with motion pictures than Los Angeles. 10% of all movie theaters in the entire country are located in California and Los Angeles County is home to over 100 of them. Although most of Los Angeles's theaters, like those throughout the country, showcase only the latest Hollywood product, there are also specialty theaters which show art films, adult films, classic films, experimental films, foreign films, independent films, revival films, &c. I've previously written about Southern California's drive-in theaters (For Ozoners Only) and overlooked commercial foreign language cinemas (Los Angeles's Secret, Foreign Language Movie Theater Scene). This is my guide to the repertory cinemas or revival houses. 

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California Fool's Gold -- Exporing Culver City, The Heart of Screenland

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 17, 2013 06:24pm | Post a Comment

Imagine for a moment that you are a contestant on the game show Jeopardy and you were presented with the answer, "This community's slogans have included 'The Motion Picture Capital of the World,' 'The Heart of Screenland,' and 'Where Hollywood Movies are Made?'" If you're like me you'd probably ask, "What is Hollywood?" with some confidence. If you did, however, Alex Trebek would make that slightly pained and disappointed expression and tell you that "the question we were looking for is "What is Culver City?" And again, if you're at all like me, you'd probably go, "Huh?" By the way, Jeopardy! has been filmed in Culver City since 1994.

Artwork in Culver City highlighting Hollywood

Culver City is, in fact, both currently and historically a major hub in the production of mainstream American Cinema (you know, the ones usually referred to as "Hollywood" films) but for whatever reason -- and despite the best efforts of many Culverites -- it has been far less successful than the Hollywood neighborhood in connecting its name to the entertainment industry in the global public's mind. In fact, I'd wager that more tourists and Angelenos associate Burbank, North Hollywood, Studio City, and Universal City with "Hollywood" film production than they do Culver City.

I'm not really sure what makes a city a "Motion Picture Capital of the World." For years now, both Mumbai, India and Lagos, Nigeria (Bollywood and Nollywood) have annually surpassed the entire USA in film production (and tellingly, as with Kollywood, LollywoodTollywood, &c, signal their film-centricity by using a portmanteau that incorporates their own city or language with "Hollwood" and not "Culver City"). Meanwhile Culver City officials and other boosters continue to remind everyone of their city's place in the celluloid world at almost every conceivable opportunity. I even saw a sign for an apartment complex under construction which announced that it will be "debuting" rather than opening in 2014 (although "debuting" makes it sound like it's a teenage Filipina). 

Admittedly, even though I consider myself a fairly informed guy, it wasn't until researching this piece that I learned of Culver City's filmic importance. I've had a few friends that have lived in Culver City in the past and my impressions of the place had more to do with its small town atmosphere, its amazing diversity of restaurants, and the unpretentiousness of its populace rather than movie production. Then again, although I'm a film fanatic, the first thing I think of when I hear "Hollywood" is Thai food.



Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Westside

Culver City is by most definitions (a small group who live west of the 405 would beg to differ) a community in Los Angeles's Westside (although like Santa Monica it's its own city). Compared not just to other Westside communities but Los Angeles County as a whole, the population of Culver City is highly diverse. As of 2010 the population was roughly 60% white (primarily German and English), 23% Latino (primarily Mexican) of any race, 15% Asian (primarily Filipino), 10% black, and 1% Native American.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Culver City

Although the Culver City's area is only about 13 square kilometers, the fact that it's shaped something like a Starfleet Type-2 phaser (the result of 42 strategic annexations) has resulted in its being neighbored by a large number of communities including Baldwin Hills, Cameo Plaza, The Culver City Arts District (which is mostly located outside of Culver City), Del Rey, La Cienega Heights, Ladera Heights, Mar Vista, Palms, Playa Vista, Venice, West Adams (not to be confused with the West Adams Historic District), Westchester, and Windsor Hills.

Culver City neighborhoods sign

Culver City is comprised of many neighborhoods of varying size. Their borders, names, and even status as neighborhoods isn't universally agreed upon. Some are descended from old tracts and others are little more than condominium developments. Anyway, in my research I found the following communities listed by at least once source as a neighborhood of Culver City: Blair Hills, Blanco (aka Blanco Park aka Beverlywood West), Carlson Park, Clarkdale (aka Tellefson Park), Culver City-90066, Culver City Terrace (a trailer court), Culver West, Culver Crest, Downtown Culver City, Emerald Estates (a gated community), Federal Park, Fox Hills, the Hayden Tract, the Helms District (aka the Helms Bakery District aka the Helms Design District), Heritage Estates, Jefferson, Lakeside Villa, Lakeside Village (a gated community), Lindberg Park, Little Culver, Lower Crest (aka Lower Culver Crest), Lucerne, McLaughlin, McManus (Culver City-East), the Nolan Tract, Park East (a gated community), Playa Pacific (a gated community), Raintree (a gated community), Rancho Higuera (aka Higuera), Regent Square, Studio Estates, Studio Village, Sunkist Park (aka El Marino), Tara Hill, Veterans Park (aka Park West), Washington Culver, and Windsor Fountains.

Downtown Culver City

Most of Culver City is comprised of low-profile residential neighborhoods comprised mainly of single family homes and most of what would likely of interest to visitors is likely located within and around Downtown Culver City, the Hayden Tract, the Helms District, or adjacent but actually within Los Angeles.


If Culver City officials and others are unhappy that the community is widely overlooked for its contributions to cinema they seem to be just as happy to allow Culver City to be associated with a number of attractions that aren't actually within the city as they appear on tour maps and Culver City directional signs. Ivy Substation (and The Actors' Gang), Carbon, most of the Culver City Arts District, the Hobbit HousesMedia Park, the Museum of Jurassic Technology are all in Los Angeles -- not that that should preclude Culverites' promotion or enjoyment of them.



It isn't known who the indigenous people of the Westside were nor what they called themselves. They may've been ancestors of the Chumash or speakers of a Hokan language. They probably arrived around 15,000 years ago. Some time later, around 8,000 years ago, they were displaced by or absorbed into a population whose ancestors migrated from the Sonoran Desert, a people who're today commonly referred to as Tongva. One of Tongva villages, Saa'anga, was located a little west of present day Culver City, near the mouth of Ballona Creek on Santa Monica Bay. There were other, smaller villages located around the watershed as well. 


In 1542 Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo claimed what he believed to be the Island of California for country of Spain. In June 1769, Gaspar de Portolà embarked upon an overland expedition from San Diego, stopping near present-day Santa Monica on the 3rd of August. It was the prelude to the Tongva and other Native peoples' subjugation within the California Mission System.


Mexico began its war of independence with Spain in 1810 and finally achieved it in 1821. That year the 12.65 km2 Rancho de los Bueyes was granted to Bernardo Higuera and Cornelio Lopez. To the east was Rancho Las Cienegas and Rancho La Cienega o Paso de la Tijera. To the west was Rancho La Ballona.  Augustín Machado and Felipe Talamantes had earlier been granted permission to graze cattle on Rancho La Ballona in 1819, around which time the Machado built an adobe on the banks of the creek which soon flooded and washed away the structure (Ballona Creek was paved by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1935 to prevent further flooding). In 1821, Augustín's brother Ygnacio and Felipe's son Tom came on board the operation. In 1834, Ygnacio Machado built the Centinela Adobe in what's now Inglewood.


The first La Ballona School

Although the US conquered California from Mexico in 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ensured that land holdings belonging to Mexicans would be honored by the victors. However, as early as 1857 the land began to change hands - first when Benjamin D. Wilson acquired a portion on foreclosure of an earlier loan to Talamantes. In 1849 Ygnacio had moved to El Pueblo (in Downtown Los Angeles). In preparation for the possibility of the the War Between the States coming to California, Camp Latham was established on the southern bank of Ballona Creek (near Jefferson and Overland) and commanded by Brigadier General George Wright. In 1865, La Ballona School was built in what was by then called the Ballona Valley -- and Augustín Machado died.


Harry Culver - center, 1929 (image source: Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register)

Harry Hazel Culver (born in Milford, Nebraska in 1880) began work as a Southern California real estate developer in 1910, in the employ of Isaac Newton Van Nuys. Van Nuys founded a community named after himself in the San Fernando Valley in 1911. In 1913 Culver announced his plan for his "Culver City" to be located at the intersection of three Pacific Electric Railway lines (the Del Rey, Santa Monica Air, and Venice Short lines) and "3 splendid boulevards" (National, Pico, and Washington).

Culver City in 1914

The planned community -- situated in the middle of nowhere but between Los Angeles, The Palms, and Venice of America -- was promoted with the slogan "All Roads Lead to Culver City." Ironically, Culver City's Main Street -- filed in 1913 -- was then reportedly the shortest such road in the world.

Culver City Main Street in 2013

In 1914 Culver started the Culver Investment Company. By then the instant community already boasted a train depot, cyclecar plant, and a macaroni factory. Culver City was incorporated on 20 September, 1917 with a population of just 530 residents -- all white -- as the now diverse community was at its inception a whites-only "sundown town."


Triangle Studio in 1916 - Culver City's first film studio

In the late 1910s, Culver City arose as one of the biggest centers of film production on the west coast (rivaling Edendale, Highland Park, and Hollywood) with the establishment of three major studios -- Triangle Film Corporation, Thomas H. Ince Studios, Hal Roach Studios and their successors -- as well as smaller ones (such as Willat Studios). Two of the three studio facilities still exist and one was torn down and replaced with light industrial buildings.


The old Triangle Film Corporation studios today

Harry Culver met producer-director Thomas H. Ince when he was filming a western near Ballona Creek for New York Motion Picture Company (who'd opened west coast studio in Edendale) and persuaded him to set up a new operation in fledgling Culver City. In July 1915, Ince -- in partnership with Harry and Roy Aitken, and filmmakers D. W. Griffith and Mack Sennett -- founded Culver City's first motion picture company, Triangle Film Corporation. The LA Times almost immediately after published an article titled "Culver City a Movie Center." By 1917 producer Adolph Zukor had taken control of the studio, which then became Paramount-Artcraft Pictures. In 1919 it was sold it to Samuel Goldwyn. In 1924, his Goldwyn Pictures Corporation studios became the property of Metro Goldywn Mayer.

The old MGM lot

Today the Greek colonnade still stands although behind it is Sony Pictures Studios (and Columbia). In 2012, a 30 meter high metal rainbow sculpture was added that's visible from outside the lot.

Sony Pictures Entertainment and Tony Tasset's Rainbow


The Mansion - The old Ince Studios

In 1918 Ince purchased a new lot nearby and established Thomas H. Ince Studios. Meyer & Holler designed the building that now houses Culver Studios -- a Colonial Revival structure that was nicknamed "The Mansion." In 1922, Ince Studios merged with First National Pictures, Inc. In November, 1924, Ince was invited aboard William Randolph Hearst's yacht, the Oneida, to celebratehis birthday on a trip from San Pedro to San Diego. Other guests included actors Charlie Chaplin, Aileen Pringle, Jacqueline Logan, Julanne Johnston, Margaret Livingston, Seena Owen, Theodore Kosloff and others. Ince was initially delayed due to his finalizing a production deal with Hearst's International Film Coporation and the boat set sail without its guest of honor. After concluding business, Ince took a train to San Diego where he boarded the yacht. Three days after his 42nd birthday he was dead. The official version was that he'd grown ill on the yacht and been taken home where he died of a heart ailment but the rumor mill immediately began churning out variations on a story involving infidelity and murder (or accidental shooting). The story was the basis for Peter Bogdanovich's film, The Cat's Meow.

After his death, Ince's widow Elinor took over Ince Studios for a short time. The Mansion later housed DeMille Studio (the Cecil B. DeMille Theatre was added in 1927), RKO, RKO-Pathé, Selznick International, Desilu, and Laird International Studios.

To give a since of The Mansion's importance in film -- it was there that David O. Selznick and Victor Fleming made the highest grossing film of all time -- Gone with the Wind (1939) and Orson Welles filmed what's often considered to be the best film of all time, Citizen Kane (1940). When it was Desilu its soundstages were used to film TV series including The Andy Griffith Show and Star Trek, among others.


Hal E. Roach Studios "near Los Angeles" 

Due to Los Angeles zoning laws, Hal Roach couldn't expand his studio operations and so moved to movie-friendly Culver City in 1919. His new studio, nicknamed "The Lot of Fun," was located on Landmark Street -- just south of the modern day Culver City Station of the Expo Line. The studio employed one of Culver City's first professional musical acts -- the Hal Roach Studio Orchestra. Hal Roach, of course, famously "created" the comedic Laurel & Hardy duo. To this day, a local branch of the Sons of the Desert  (The Worldwide Laurel & Hardy Society) meet weekly at the Culver Hotel.
During World War II the facilities were used to produce training films and it came to be nicknamed "Fort Roach." It was demolished in 1963 and is now memorialized with a plaque (Culver City has more historical plaques than I've seen in any other exploration). 

Leave 'em Laughing plaque


Films made in Culver City during the great era of Silent Film include: Luke's Movie Muddle (1916); Ask Father, From Hand to Mouth, The Hayseed, The Brand, Chop Suey & Co., and The Lone Wolf's Daughter (all 1919); The Penalty, His Royal Slyness, Haunted Spooks, and An Eastern Westerner (all 1920); Never Weaken, Now or Never, A Sailor-Made Man, I Do, Among Those Present, and Dodge Your Debts (all 1921); Our Gang and Dr. Jack (both 1922);

Safety Last!
, Why Worry?, Dogs of War
, and The Soilers (all 1923); He Who Gets Slapped, Girl Shy, The Wife of the Centaur, The Snob, Smithy, One Night in Rome, Zeb vs. Paprika, Big Moments from Little Pictures, Sinners in Silk, The Beauty Prize, The Dixie Handicap, Going to Congress, Barbara Frietchie, Accidental Accidents, A Tour of the Thomas Ince Studio, and The Cowboy Sheik (all 1924);

The Big Parade, Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ, The Freshman, The Merry Widow, The Unholy Three, The Monster, Pretty Ladies, The Circle, 1925 Studio Tour, What Price Goofy?, Isn't Life Terrible?, The Sporting Venus, Zander the Great, Confessions of a Queen, Never the Twain Shall Meet, Daddy's Gone A-Hunting, Big Red Riding Hood, The Haunted Honeymoon, Cheaper to Marry
, and Unfriendly Enemies (all 1925);

Bardelys the Magnificent, La Bohème, The Temptress, Tell it to the Marines, 45 Minutes from Hollywood, Along Came Auntie, Long Fliv the King, Exit Smiling, Mighty Like a Moose, Crazy Like a Fox, On the Front Page, Raggedy Rose, Valencia, Exquisite Sinner, For Alimony Only, The Fire Brigade, Monte Carlo, Dance Madness, The Barrier, Wise Guys Prefer Brunettes
, and Scared Stiff (all 1926);

and The Show, The King of Kings, Love, West Point, Chicago, Annie Laurie, The Second 100 Years , Duck Soup, The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg, Mr. Wu, Putting Pants on Philip, The Red Mill, Hats Off, The Battle of the Century, Why Girls Love Sailors, Sugar Daddies, Love 'em and Weep, Sailors Beware, Slipping Wives, With Love and Hisses, Buttons, The Flag: A Story Inspired by the Tradition of Betsy Ross, Olympic Games, Baby Brother, The Callahans and the Murphys, Tillie the Toiler, The Honorable Mr. Buggs, Adam and Evil, Are Brunettes Safe?, and Lovers? (all 1927).


Culver City is still very active in film production. Normally I try to mention all of the films shot within a community but, at well over 11,000 there are far too many for a blog entry. If you'd like to peruse the IMDB list (sorted by date), click here.

To further emphasize how important Culver City's contribution has been I'll list just a few films made in Culver City have helped define, erm, Hollywood, including: King Kong (1933), The Thin Man (1934), The Good Earth (1937), A Star is Born (1937), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Rebecca (1940), It's a Wonderful Life (1946), Singin' In the Rain (1952), Oklahoma! (1955), The Night of the Hunter (1955), and Forbidden Planet (1956). It's also where TV shows like The Amos 'n Andy Show, The Adventures of Superman, The Life of Riley, The Abbott and Costello Show, The Great Gildersleeve, Lassie, The Thin Man, Gunsmoke, The Green Hornet, Gomer Pyle, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Little House on the Prairie and many others were filmed too.

Today Culver City is home to Sony Pictures Entertainment, the community's largest employer. It's the birthplace of film figures including Charles Herbert, Dee Dee Davis, Drew Barrymore, Gwen Verdon, Helen Hunt, and Michael Richards. Finally, it's also home to many production companies, talent agencies, studios, distribution companies, consulting firms, &c all having to do with film production.


The Washington Building -- begun in 1926 and designed by Arthur D. Scholz and Orville L. Clark

The 1920s were the time of Culver City's greatest population growth -- the population increased over 1000% from just 503 to 5,669 during the decade. Prohibition, which lasted between 1919 and 1933, was somewhat ignored around Culver City and supposedly the race tracks, speakeasies, and nightclubs along Washington Boulevard were the reason Culver City annexed the area in 1924. During the Prohibition era Culver City was home to a thriving nightlife based around The Green Mill (which became Sebastian's Cotton Club -- where Lionel Hampton began his career with Les Hite), King's Tropical Inn (established in 1924), Barton's, Casa Mañana, Ford's Castle, Frank's Bar and Grill, The Hoosegow, The Hot Spot Café, and Moonlite Gardens. As a result, Culver City (along with Venice and Vernon) acquired a reputation as quite a happening and slightly lawless place. Culver City Council finally took action to prohibit gambling in 1928.


The Culver Hotel (right) and Pacific Culver Stadium 12 (left)

In 1924 the six-story flatiron skyscraper (the sky was lower in those days) Hotel Hunt was completed. Although no longer the tallest building in Culver City, it's still widely visible and is the most iconic structure in the community.At some point early on it was re-named the Culver Hotel. From 1924 until 1933 it housed Harry Culver's offices. It was later owned by John Wayne and in the past housed many movie stars including Buster KeatonClark Gable, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Red Skelton, and Ronald Reagan. Before it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997, it was actually in danger of being demolished.


Culver City Speedway  1949 (image source: Auto Racing Memories)

From 1924 until 1927, the Culver City Speedway hosted auto races at a facility located near Overland Avenue and Culver Boulevard.


The Meralta was opened in 1924 by Pearl Merrill and Laura Peralta (who combined their family names to create the theater's name). The first film shown at the Will Rogers-hosted premier was Del Andrews's film, The Galloping Fish. It closed in 1983 and was demolished the following year -- replaced with a shopping plaza. 


Gateway Station Post Office (built in 1940 ) includes a mural by George Samerjan (left) and CityBus (right)

Culver CityBus was founded along with Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus in 1928 -- they're the oldest municipal transit companies in the state. In 1997 a new Transportation Facility (with big urn sculpture in front) opened.

City of Culver City Transportation and Purchasing

At 2011's Government Fleet Conference, Culver CityBus was voted the 5th best fleet in North America. The regular fleet buses are green and the rapid buses are gray. In addition to Culver City its seven lines serve Century City, Mar Vista, Marina del Rey, Palms, Venice, Westchester, West Los Angeles, and Westwood -- covering an area of almost 70 km2.


Rollerdrome opened in 1928 at the present location of Tellefson Park. An organ was added in 1929 and the house organist was Carl Osterloh. It was demolished in 1970.


The Citizen Building

The Citizen Building was constructed in 1929 (the same year the older Culver City Star News merged with The Venice Vanguard). It served as the new home of The Citizen Publishing and Printing Company, first established in San Francisco in 1923 by Eugene Donovan before relocating to Southern California. The building, which mixes elements of Art Deco and Beaux Arts, was designed by Orville E. Clark and is eye-catching if a bit difficult to do justice to with photographs (on account of trees and traffic). In 1987, the Citizen Building became the first structure in Culver City to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Donvan's paper, The Citizen, actually ran a contest to rename Culver City. Entries included "Cinema City" and "Filmville" but obviously, Culver City's name remained the same after Hollywood and Culver City buried the hatchet at Grauman's Chinese Theatre


The Art Deco Beacon Laundry -- built in 1930

Thanks in large part to the film industry and new developments, Culver City fared relatively well during the Great Depression. The city adopted a municipal seal with the words "The Heart of Screenland" in 1936. In 1937 the city changed its slogan to "Culver City, Where Hollywood Movies Are Made." On 6 June, 1937 a measure was actually passed to change Culver City's name to "Hollywood" at which point Los Angeles responded by granting official recognition to and establishing official borders  of the Hollywood neighborhood. There were also several other key industries established in and around the city. A greyhound racing track was opened by Culver City Kennel near Lincoln and Washington Boulevards. Nonetheless, after the boom of the 1920s, population growth slowed tremendously even with the annexation of McManus Park.


Helms Bakery

Paul Helms's Helms Bakery was established on the border of Culver City and Los Angeles (in what's now known as the Helms Bakery District) in 1931. In 1932, during the Olympics, Helms Bakery supplied bread to the Olympic Village in Baldwin Hills. For more than forty years its fleet of delivery drivers brought bread "daily at your door" until 1969, when bakery closed shop.  In October, 2013 it was announced that chefs Sherry Yard and Sang Yoon plan to revive the bakery later in the fall.


Culver City Airport and Hughes Aircraft Plant

From 1932 to 1985 the Culver City Airport and Hughes Aircraft Plant was established just outside of Culver City. Though technically located within Los Angeles; the name, proximity, and jobs it provided for Culverites make it worthy of a mention here, I think.


St. Augustine's Catholic Church

In 1883, the Figueroa family donated land for the construction of St. Augustine's, the first church in what became Culver City. It was completed in 1887. The new Franco-Gothic church was dedicated 1936.


The Grotto at Holy Cross (image source: Death 2UR)

The Roman Catholic Holy Cross Cemetery opened in 1939. An area known as "The Grotto" is, as they say, the final resting place of many celebrities including: Audrey Meadows, Bela Lugosi, Bing Crosby, Charles Boyer, Dennis Day, Edmond O'Brien, Fred MacMurray, Henry Hathaway, Jack Haley, Jackie Coogan, Jimmy Durante, Joan Davis, Joe Flynn, John Candy, John Ford, Lawrence Welk, Loretta Young, Louella Parsons, MacDonald Carey, Mario Lanza, Mary Astor, Mary Frann, Pat O'Brien, Ray Bolger, Richard Arlen, Rita Hayworth, Rosalind Russell, Sharon Tate, Spike Jones, Vince Edwards, and ZaSu Pitts among others.


Chinese Elms planted in the 1940s

The 1940s saw both increasing diversity within Culver City's population and at the same time, the population growth rate began to increase again -- although it nonetheless nearly reached 20,000 by the decade's end. Prior to the 1930s, most Jewish Angelenos had lived in the Eastside in neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights, City Terrace, and East Los Angeles. Toward the end of that decade and into the 1940s, many moved west to Hollywood, Midtown and especially the Westside. Culver passed away on 17 August, 1946 -- two years before the US Supreme Court banned segregation, which even more radically changed Culver City's complexion although restrictions against multiple-family housing helped retain an economic segregation. 


Al Jolson Memorial Shrine (image by David Horan for Paul Williams Project)

B'nai B'rith Memorial Park opened in 1941 just beyond the borders of Culver City. It was renamed Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in 1950. The Al Jolson Memorial Shrine was designed by great Los Angeles architect, Paul Williams, in 1954. The cemetery was annexed by Culver City in 1964. It contains the earthly remains of Allan Sherman, David Janssen, Dinah Shore, Eddie Cantor, George Jessel, Jack Benny, Jeff Chandler, Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Milton Berle, Moe Howard, Shelley Winters, and Vic Morrow among others.


Kirk Douglas Theatre fka Culver Theatre

The beautiful, 1,1640-seat, Streamline Moderne Culver Theatre opened in 1946. At some later point it was regrettably divided into a three-screen theater before being gutted in 1994. In the years since it's been renovated and transformed into a performing arts center and playhouse known now as the Kirk Douglas Theatre.


The Studio Drive-In opened in 1948. It was featured in several films including Grease and Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. It was closed in 1993 before being demolished in 1998 and redeveloped as The Classics at Heritage Park and Eras Center. (To read about still extant SoCal drive-ins, click here).


The 1950s were a decade of increasing development. Passenger rail service ended in 1953 with the discontinuation of the Pacific Electric Railway line and at the same time car dealerships proliferated -- as did bowling alleys. In 1951, the annual Fiesta Ballona began -- an outgrowth of the earlier Tom Sawyer Days festivities which had begun in the 1930s. In 1953, the Temple Akiba opened to serve the community's growing Jewish population.


Ships Coffee Shop at Culver Center

The Culver Center shopping center opened in 1950, one of Southern California's first malls. In its honor, Hacienda Street was renamed Culver Center Street. The first Ship's coffee shop opened there in 1956. Fearing that Culver Center's growing dominance could spell the end for Culver City's smal downtown, the city council refused to allow May Company to open a shop in the mall.


Veteran's Memorial Center and Film Strip-USA

Veteran's Memorial Building also opened in 1950, a year after Exposition Park was renamed Veteran's Park. Its most eye-catching feature was its Tourist Tower, which offered tourists a glimpse of the nearby studio's back lots and pretty stunning views -- although its been closed to visitors for several decades now. The current Lethbridge-Garden Room was then home to the Tower Restaurant. In front of the center is a fountain and sculpture titled Film Strip-USA, dedicated in 1984 to what the plaque calls "The Motion Picture Capital of the World." 


Even less recognized than Culver City's contribution to film is its contribution to reality programming -- although it likewise should be otherwise. In 1954, the great (if obscure) Night Watch debuted on CBS. It wasn't the first reality show -- that would be Candid Camera which debuted in 1948. But whereas the latter was nothing more than the sort of silly prank show still popular around the world, the latter was something more interesting. Night Watch was developed and hosted by Culver City police reporter Donn Reed at a time when audiences were leaving radio for TV and radio responded by offering realism (and perhaps voyeuristic exploitation) that the family boob tube couldn't. Each episode involved Reed riding with Sgt. Ron Perkins from 6:00 pm till 2:00 am and recording everything. It ended its short run in 1955 but all 48 episodes still exist and are fascinating glimpses of Culver City life in the 1950s. You can listen to them all here.


In the 1960s, although Culver City continued to annex more territory (including, notably, Fox Hills), the population growth rate again dropped, as it has in most of the decades since. In 1964 Culver City established its first Sister City relationship with Uruapan, Mexico. Though Culver City remains comprised mostly of single family homes it was during this time that the first apartments and condominiums were constructed. The first condo complex, Studio Village Townhouses, was completed in 1965. In the next decade, more studio properties would be sold off and redeveloped into residential complexes and shopping centers.


Culver City Competition Motors (photographed by Julius Shulman)

In 1961 entrepreneur and race car enthusiast John von Neumann hired Paul R. Williams to design the new headquarters for his Competition Motors on in Culver City. Von Neumann was responsible more than any other individual for popularizing Volkswagen in the US. Consider this -- whereas in 1953 there had been no American dealers of the car, by 1962 von Neumann alone had opened 57 Volkswagen dealerships in the country. By 1964 Competition Motors moved out, having outgrown the facility. I'm not sure when it happened but it Williams's beautiful building was demolished.


I'm sure a great deal more of note happened in Culver City in the 1970s than what I'm writing about but that's all I've got for now. 


Kaizuka Meditation Garden

In 1974, another of Culver City's sister cities, Kaizuka, Japan, created a meditation garden in front of the Culver City Library. On the day that I visited it I discovered that the garden it's relatively inaccessible due its being surrounded by a fence. What's more, no water was running in the stream and the mill wheel was motionless. Further encumbering any efforts at meditation was the loud and seemingly endless stream of traffic behind me on Overland Avenue. Meanwhile the interior of the Culver City Julian Dixon Library, as it's now known, proved much more peaceful.


Fox Hills Mall opened in 1975. The Gruen Associates-designed mall was the first three-story shopping complex to open in California. It was purchased by Westfield in 1998 and renamed Westfield Shoppingtown Fox Hills (The "Shoppingtown" was dropped in 2005). Jonathan Gold wrote a complimentary review of its "dining terrace" (food court) for the LA Weekly shortly before leaving that publication. It's currently officially known as Westfield Culver City.


The 1980s were marked by the AIDS crisis, Deinstitutionalization, Crack Wars, Gang Wars, and the Central American Refugee Crisis. It almost proved to be too much for the city that had weathered the Depression with comparative ease. The city's hopes for renewal were pinned on the destruction of The Meralta theater and the replacement of it with the Meralta Plaza office building.


Sony Pictures Plaza -- undoubtedly designed by Cylons

In 1986, the Filmland Corporate Center was completed (now Sony Pictures Plaza) -- another of several projects helmed by the Culver City Redevelopment Agency within a short period. The pink granite pyramid-ish atrium portrayed the Wolfram & Hart offices on TV's Angel. Interested visitors can tour the studio, with daily tours starting here.


Coporate Point (image source: CoStar)

In 1989, the three tower complex of Corporate Pointe was completed -- the tallest building is twelve stories and its construction prompted slow growth advocates ro react by successfully lowering Culver City's height limit to just 56 feet in 1990.


Culver City City Hall

Culver City's comeback continued in the 1990s. Sony bought MGM's old studio in 1990 and established itself as the dominant economic force in town. Beginning with 1991's films Bugsy and Hook, Sony films shot in Culver City stated in their credits that they were "Filmed in Culver City." A new City Hall was dedicated in 1995, behind the mock facade of the original city hall -- meant to suggest a film set.

Sony Pictures Imageworks

Sony Pictures Imageworks opened in 1992. This is where the visual effects and digital animation that characterize mainstream American film happens.


Construction of an Expo Line bridge and a Del Taco

In 2003, NPR West moved to Culver City. The Art Deco-styled (at least the exterior) Pacific Culver Stadium 12 multiplex opened in 2003. The Expo Line returned rail service and developers clamored to construct mixed-use transit-oriented developments. Around the same time a tribe of people calling themselves "foodies" starting visiting it. In 2009 it won Curbed LA's Curbed Cup -- basically their annual community popularity contest.



Culver City Station - Expo Line train and a recently-paved parking lot (what would Joni Mitchell think?)

As already mentioned, Culver City is home to the excellent Culver CityBus system. In 2012, after 60 years without it, passenger rail service returned to Culver City (and the Westside) with the arrival of the Expo Line (which I explored both the completed section of, and the under-construction section of, for my KCET column, Block By Block). Before too long the train will go all the way to the Pacific Ocean (although it shouldn't be confused with the "Subway to the Sea," which is scheduled to take several decades to get there).

Expo Line (left) and bike lane (right)

Parallel to the Expo Line along most of its length is a bike path. There's also the Ballona Creek Bike Path that runs about eleven kilometers from near the eastern edge of Culver City to the Ballona Creek Estuary and Wetlands along Santa Monica Bay. Finally, there's the 3.4 km Culver Boulevard Meridian Bicycle Path and of course, bikes can ride on all city streets as well.

Ballona Creek and bike path

Additionally, Culver City is served by two Los Angeles Metro Bus lines (33 and 733), and Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus. And if you're the walking time, as I am, it's quite walkable. Walkscore gives Culver City a score of 79. The 90232 zip code, which includes most of the city's attractions, gets an 84 -- only one point lower than New York City and San Francisco -- the current #1 and #2 on the list.

If you want to stay overnight in Culver City there's of course the famous and highly-rated Culver Hotel as well as (in descending order of current Yelp ratings) Culver City Travelodge, Jasmine Hotel, Ramada Culver City, Sunburst Motel, Half Moon Motel, Astro Motel, Deano's Motel, and West End Hotel.


What's the story with this clock? 

One of my absolute favorite things about Culver City is the diversity of the restaurant scene. There are restaurants serving Asian Fusion, Brazilian, British, Burmese, Creole, Cuban, Ethiopian, French, Greek, Hawaiian, Indian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Mexican, New American, Pakastani, Salvadoran, Taiwanese, Thai, Vegetarian, and Vietnamese cuisine, among others.

Oddly, on the day that I explored for this blog entry and despite the amazing choices available, every single person I saw at every single sidewalk café was grazing on salad. At first I thought it was some sort of special holiday or maybe I'd walked onto the set of a commercial for lettuce or something but I think it was actually an indication of the importance of "the Industry" actually; these people were quite likely "doing" lunch (in the parlance of schmooze).

There have been a couple of hiccups with the food explosion. Until 2011 there was Westside Food Truck Central and the Culver City Food Truck Fest which may or may not return after permits are sorted out. In the past I've enjoyed meals at Café Brasil, Empanada's Place, and shojin I have also heard a lot of raving (and almost just as much dissent) about Tito's Tacos -- but have yet to check it out -- suspecting (even though I should know better)  that its fans may never have crossed the LA River to the Eastside.

Culver City Farmers Market mural

If you'd like to learn how to cook, you can attend Culver City's New School of Cooking. You can get restaurant supplies from Surfas, which has been around since 1937. The Culver City Farmers Market takes place downtown every Tuesday from 3:00 to 7:00. It was actually setting up as I left the area and headed west, stopping at and enjoying a lunch at Samosa House (East). 

Other restaurants include:

A-Frame, Akasha, All India Flavor, Aramark, Bada Bing Italian Grill, Bawarchi Indian Kitchen, Bellagio, Big Fat Pita, Big Tomy's, Bistro Laurent, Bottlerock, Brunello Trattoria, Buffalo Wings & Pizza, Café Allegro, Café Creole, Café Laurent, Café Nagomi Truck, Café Surfas, California Roll & Sushi, Campos Tacos, Cappriotti's, Cilantro Fresh Mexican Grill, Cinco de Mayo, Creme de la Crepe, The Culver Studios Commissary, Dear John's, Delhi Biryani House, Dios Union Libertad, Don Felix Meat Market,

Dragon Restaurant, E K Valley Restaurant, Ekkamai Thai Restaurant, El Baron Restaurant and Night Club, El Jacalito, El Rincon Criollo, El Rio Bravo Restaurant, El Super Taco Deluxe
, Extreme Pizza, 5i Indochine Cuisine, Food Square, Ford's Filling Station, Fresh in the Box, Fuji Wok & Sushi, Gaby's Express Mediterranean Café, George Petrelli's Steak House, Good Eatz Café, Grand Casino Bakeries, Great Khan's Mongolian BarbequeGreen Peas, Green Truck, Grey Block Pizza,

Hamakaze Sushi Izakaya,
Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken, Huddle West Café, India Sweets and Spices, Industry Café & Jazz, Jackson Market, Jasmine Market, Jerry's Market, Johnnie's Pastrami Restaurant, Joyce's Pizza & Submarine Sandwiches, JR's BarbequeK-ZO, Kabab Bistro, King's Kabob, L'Epicerie Market, La Dijonaise Café et Boulangerie, LA Spice, LaRocco's Pizzeria, Libra Brazilian SteakhouseLucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que,Lunch, Lukshon, LYFE Kitchen,

M Café de Chaya, Mandarin Dish, Marin Company Steak & Spirits, Martini's Italian Deli & Pizza, Maxwell's Café, Meet in Paris, Metro Café, Mi Ranchito, Mongrill Gourmet Mongolian BBQ, Muddy Leek, Mykonos Greek Grill, Native Foods CaféNovocento Pasta & Grill, 101 Noodle ExpressOutdoor Grill, Panda Thai Kitchen, Patio Café, Pho ShowPinches Tacos, Pitfire Artisan Pizza, The Point, Polentoni, Public School 310, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Ramen Yamadaya,

The Restaurant at the Culver Hotel, Rising Hearts, Rita Hayworth Dining Room, Rocco's Tavern, Rockenwagner Bakery, Roll 'n Rye, Royal Chinese Food & Donut, Rush Street, Rutt's Hawaiian Café, S & W Country DinerSage Oragnic Vegan Bistro, Sake House by Hikari, Sarku Japan Sushi Bar, Sharlimar Cuisine of India, Shikibu Sushi & Pastry, Signature Burger, Signature Café, Smashburger, Sony Pictures Plaza Cafeteria, Sorrento Italian Market, Sushi Karen Japanese Restaurant,

Sushi Mashiko, Swanya Thai Cuisine, Taqueria Estilo, Tender Greens, TrimanaTub's Fine Chile, Ugo Café, Vera Pizza Napoletana, Victor Jr's, Viet Gourmet Express, Villa Italian Restaurant, Waterloo & City, Wildcraft Sourdough Pizza, The Wood Café,
 Yen Sushi Lounge and KaraokeZam Zam Market, ZZ Truck, and 041 Bacaro


For the thirsty, there are a few places to wet one's whistle in Culver City including Alibi Room, Apothecary Café, Backstage Bar & Grill, The Bar at the Culver Hotel, Bird Pick Tea & Herb, Bottlerock, Caffe Carpe Diem, The Cinema BarCity TavernCoffee Buna, Cognoscenti Coffee, Conservatory For Coffee Tea & Cocoa, The Corner Door, Cozy Inn, Al Alteno Bar, Espresso Primo, George's Coffee Shop, Island Monarch Coffee, Joxer Daly's, King's Café, The Redd Collection, The Rumor Mill, Scarlet Lady Saloon, Seventy7, The Spot Café & Lounge, Studio BarTanner's Coffee Co, Tattle Tale Room, and Ugo Wine Bar.


There have been at least a couple of "city songs" composed for Culver City. In 1967, Doris Hechinger composed "Culver City." In 1985, Marilyn Freiden Clark composed, "Our Culver City." The Culver City Symphony Orchestra has performed since 2000. It was also formerly home to Bratton Music Publishing Company (see below)

Bratton Music Publishing Co. sheet music (image source: Songs in the Key of L.A.)

Culver City is the birthplace or home base of several performers including (I think) include Aerial Stereo, Amy's Crusade, Andy ShigekawaAnonymoose and Young Cookie, APEX, Aphex Wolf, The Bad Bad Things, Becky Stark, bikos, The Black Heartthrobs, The Bomb Camarillos, Bronwen Jones, Chorus Babblebones, Chris Clarke, Co Wave, color cycle, Confucius is Confused, Cori Jacobs, Debbie HennesseyDJ Max FactorEarly the MC, Endor, Evyn Charles, Gorgonized Dorks, Ibn Gold, IkonInfernal Assault, Michael Nhat, Puppets, Rocky George (of Pap Smear, Suicidal Tendencies, 40 Cycle Hum, Cro-Mags, and Fishbone), Strings By Reiko, Tibay, TonyMoss, TVghettoblasterman, Vedad M, Ven Olac, VerBS, Yeren, and XPlatter. I'm not sure if he was born there but KXLU's DJ Ned Learner is widely associated with Culver City. 

Local music stores include Boulevard Music (who host the Boulevard Summer Music Festival), Culver City Music Center (which offers music lessons), and Latin Music Warehouse. Furthermore, Beats By Dre's headquarters are there, the Harvest Festival of Dulcimers takes place there, and Industry Cafe & Jazz features live music and poetry open mic nights. There are also almost certainly several music studios although the only one that I noticed were Musicians Choice Studio and Sound Space Lab.


In a 2007 New York Times piece titled "In Culver City, Calif., Art and Food Turn a Nowhere Into a Somewhere" the writer refers to Culver City as a "nascent Chelsea" -- comparing Los Angeles to New York is the paper's highest honor. Anyway, the article mentions The Actor's Gang, Blum & Poe, HD Buttercup, The Mandrake Bar, and LAXart Gallery -- not one of those happens to be actually in Culver City, mind you. That's right, the arts area often referred to as the Culver City Arts District is almost entirely located within Los Angeles and not Culver City.

Helms District and beyond, the strip of Arts District along Washington actually within Culver City

The narrow strip of the Arts District along Washington that actually is within Culver City is home to quite a few galleries such as Cardwell Jimmerson Contemporary Art, Century Guild, Corey Helford Gallery, Fresh Paint, George Lawson Gallery, Indie Collective, Kinkead ContemporaryKoplin Del Rio Gallery, LeBasse Projects, Mark Moore Gallery, Prohibition Gallery, Roberts & Tilton, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Taylor De Cordoba, Thinkspace Gallery, and Washington Reid Gallery.

Harold L. Pastorius's Emerald Rings

Other art galleries that I'm pretty sure are in Culver City include Bradford Stewart, Marlene Louchheim, The Pop Studio, Royal/T, Subspace Art, Teale Street Sculpture Studio & Gallery, Whole 9 Gallery, and WWA Gallery. To see a map of galleries in the Culver City Arts Distict (both within and without Culver City) click here.

De L'Espries The Path of Life (2001)

There's plenty of public art too -- maybe too much. In 2009, construction workers mistook Jebediah Caeser's Gleaners Stone for construction materials and removed it. In my travels I noticed Harold L. Pastorius's Emerald Rings, The Lion's Fountain, and De L'Esprie's Path of Life (plus a lot of murals).

Rivers of the World mural

Postcards from Ballona

Click here
to see a map of public art in Culver City or here to see LAist's piece on a Culver City public art scavenger hunt. 


Helms Bakery closed in 1969 and in 1974 it was purchased by Walter N. Marks. It's now home to several restaurants and home décor places. It also hosts the Culver City Patchwork in which local artisans peddle their wares. The old bakery actually straddles the Culver City and Los Angeles border. At the southern end, La Dijonaise Café et Boulangerie and Lukshon are in Culver City. At the northern end, Father's Office is not. The distinction isn't totally obvious from street level although Helms Avenue becomes the pedestrian-only Helms Walk as it enters Culver City. The Helms District has also hosted LuckyRice -- one of the region's increasingly popular night markets -- and the Sunset Cinema sumer outdoor film screenings.


The Hayden Tract

One of the other interesting neighborhoods of Culver City is the Hayden Tract, the city's former industrial district. Now most of them are home to offices by and studios for architects, graphic designers, new media types, software engineers, &c. Some of the newer and altered buildings in the area serve as calling cards for their creators (especially Eric Owen Moss, who should be proclaimed the Hayden Tract's honorary mayor) such as the Beehive, the Box Building, the Broadway Building, the Gateway Art Tower, the Samitaur Tower, the Stealth Building, and the "What Wall" Building. It's one of the most eye-catching collections of post-modern buildings in Los Angeles County.

Eric Owen Moss's The Beehive (1998)

Eric Owen Moss's  Gateway Art Tower (2010)


Culver City Park

Culver City is home to several parks. On one 4th of July I went with some friends to Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook or Culver City Park. From up on the hill we could see the entire Westside and noticed that nowhere were there any fireworks. Thoroughly nonplussed a couple of us headed what turned out to be south, discovering in South LA that yes, there are people west of Western who like fireworks displays. Culver City is also home to Blair Hills Park, Blanco Park, The Boneyard, Carlson Park, Culver City Skate Park, Culver West Alexander Park, El Marino Park, Fox Hills Park, Lindberg Park, and Syd Kronenthal Park.


If you like museums there's the Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum (focused on African-American memorabilia) and the Wende Museum (focused on Soviet and East German art). There are several book stores including Agape Quiet Mind Bookstore, Arcana Books on the Arts, Archangel Michael Orthodox Bookstore, Pauline Books and Media, and Vagabond Books. Culver City is also home to Blind Barber (a barbershop and lounge), the Brasil Brasil Cultural Center, Culver Ice Arena, Fox Hills Golf & Banquet Center, A Magic Forest (a children's space), and STAR Eco Station.(an environmental education and wildlife rescue center).


Culver City Teen Center

If you want to get involved in Culver City, there have been a great deal of civic organizations and clubs. The Culver City Westside Barbell Club seems to be inactive but the Culver City Woman's Club (established in 1920), Culver City Chamber of Commerce (established in 1921), Culver City Lions Club (established in 1923), Rotary Club of Culver City (established in 1930), Culver Palms YMCA (established in 1944), Culver City Historical Society (established in 1980), Kiwanis Club of Culver City, Optimist Club of Culver City, and Culver City Garden Club seem to all still be around (as are many others). Teens can utilize the Culver City Teen Center (with a parent's signature).

God Bless America and Aloha -  Guan Yu and the Virgin Mary in Culver City


FOR FURTHER READING ON CULVER CITY, check out Julie Lugo Cerra's (Culver City's honorary historian) Culver City, Culver City Chronicles, Culver City: The Heart of Screenland, and Movie Studios of Culver City (the latter co-written by Marc Wanamaker). For current events there's the Culver City Times, Culver City Patch, Culver City News Blog, and Culver City Crossroads. For further viewing, look for Visiting... With Huell Howser "Episode #1804 - Culver City" (classic Huell begins around 12:40).

To vote for other Los Angeles County communities  to be the subject of future blog entries, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, vote here. To vote for Orange County communities and neighborhoods, vote here


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

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 29, 2011 08:54pm | Post a Comment

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.


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. 



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 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.


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 (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.  


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.


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.


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:



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 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 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 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."


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 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.


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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 (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 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 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 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.


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.


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. 


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 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 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 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 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 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."


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 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 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 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.


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 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 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 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 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 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 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.


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 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 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


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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