Monday, August 15th, 2011
116

Name That Los Angeles Neighborhood!

You’re standing at the intersection of Wilshire and Highland. What neighborhood are you in? The sign on the corner says you’re somewhere called Brookside. The sign on the other corner says you’re in Park Mile. The sign a block away, in full view of the other signs, says you’re in Sycamore Square.

Google Maps doesn’t mention any of these. Google Maps calls this neighborhood Dockweiler. Where it gets this from, I have no idea. Los Angeles does have a Dockweiler—but it’s Dockweiler State Beach, 15 miles away, by the airport. Google Maps calls the adjoining neighborhood Sanford. But that’s Koreatown. Google Maps is just making stuff up.

Talk to someone who lives around here and the picture won't get any clearer. One person will say the intersection is part of the Miracle Mile, which it kind of is. Mid-Wilshire is also semi-accurate. Someone else will say it’s Hancock Park, which it isn’t, but it’s close enough, and Angelenos have a gentlemen’s agreement to let people say they live in a neighborhood when really they live right next to it.

Consider the three Carthays, which lie a mile to the west: Carthay Square, Carthay Circle and South Carthay. Real-estate agents call this area 'Beverly Hills Adjacent.' This is geographically accurate; the Carthays are indeed right next to Beverly Hills. But Beverly Hills has higher property values, its own school district and its own police force. The Carthays have houses with bars on all the windows. If someone tells you they live Beverly Hills Adjacent, they’re selling something.

People who live along the eastern edge of East Hollywood will sometimes fudge their way into Los Feliz. There’s a section of Los Feliz where it’s popular to consider yourself part of Silver Lake. Hipsters who think Silver Lake has become too gentrified claim the disputed border between the two for Echo Park. Locals who don’t care refer to that border as HaFo SaFo, after the Happy Foot Sad Foot sign at Sunset and Benton. A friend of mine insists he coined this but I’m skeptical. The city’s official name for it is Berkeley Hills. Nobody calls it that.

Locals divide Sherman Oaks into South of the Boulevard and North of the Boulevard, the boulevard being Ventura Boulevard, the subtext being that one side is much wealthier than the other. Franklin Hills carved itself out of Los Feliz some time ago and maintains they were never a part of that other neighborhood to begin with. They’re so adamant about it that everyone’s like, fine, go be Franklin Hills. Windsor Square refuses to believe it’s part of Hancock Park. Google Maps calls that area Oakwood. Again, not a thing.

There’s a neighborhood called West Los Angeles. West Los Angeles is not to be mixed up with the Westside of Los Angeles, which includes everything west of Hollywood, including West Hollywood, which isn’t part of Hollywood because Hollywood is part of Los Angeles and West Hollywood is its own city. There are a good two miles of Los Angeles to the west of West Los Angeles. There’s a major street called Western that’s on the Eastside of Los Angeles, which you should never confuse with East Los Angeles, because East Los Angeles is also a separate city, to the east of Downtown Los Angeles.

Los Angeles has a Chinatown, a Thai Town, a Little Tokyo, a Little Ethiopia and a Little Bangladesh. Google Maps only shows Little Armenia. A couple years ago the city named one area Historic Filipinotown, even though it hasn’t been a Filipino neighborhood in fifty years. Hence the “historic” designation. Other areas are also named for things that no longer exist. The locals call Elysian Valley ‘Frogtown’ because their lawns used to fill with frogs before the river was lined with concrete. Then there’s Historic Downtown, which is different from the Historic Core that happens to be Downtown, and an Old Bank District. Historic West Adams, however, is the same thing as West Adams.

“What part of Los Angeles do you live in?” is not always an easy question. There are the 30 or so neighborhoods that used to be listed in the back of the Thomas guide, a map book that every Angeleno kept in their car before there was Internet. There are the 87 recognized by the Los Angeles Times in its Mapping L.A. project from a few years ago. At least half of those have disputed boundaries. There are the hundreds of sub-neighborhoods the city keeps trying to formalize with little blue signs. These are often dubious. There is the handful of unofficial neighborhoods named spontaneously by the people who live in them. And then there are the ones recognized by Google Maps, which have little foundation in reality.

So back to the corner of Wilshire and Highland. A friend of mine used to call that area 'Trader Joe’s Adjacent.' Which kind of stuck, though I think that neighborhood should really end a block to the north.



Eric Spiegelman is a proprietor of Old Jews Telling Jokes.

116 Comments / Post A Comment

Boy are your East Coasters not going to care about this one! But I live less than a mile down Highland from your confusing Brookside sign. I walk there frequently, for cigarettes and beer from the kindliest 7-11 lady in the history of 7-11s. My neighborhood is variously "mid-city," "mid-Wilshire," "Miracle Mile," "Koreatown-adjacent," "Hancock Park-adjacent," or "Longwood Highlands." (That's what's on the sign, but nobody has ever heard of it, including me.)

Eric Spiegelman (#3,968)

@Rebecca Schoenkopf Longwood Highlands is a new one!

Jane Donuts (#2,857)

@Eric Spiegelman @Rebecca Schoenkopf I've lived in those neighborhoods for the past five years (currently am in what is technically Carthay Square), but pretty much only tell people I live "near LACMA", "south of West Hollywood/Hollywood", or "Little Ethiopia Adjacent". Picfair Village is right around there, and I have also seen real estate brochures calling the area "SoFax" for South Fairfax. I once told a guy I lived in mid-city and he said I was an idiot. That's farther south.

deepomega (#1,720)

@Jane Donuts: Little Ethiopia adjacent is great because it tells you what you need to know.

wb (#2,214)

@Jane Donuts I personally think that Mid-City is the most nebulous of all L.A. neighborhoods.

Jane Donuts (#2,857)

@wb Nebulous and awesome. I love where I live. Cheaper rent, better buildings, more parking and less traffic. Now if only someone could open a decent bar somewhere nearby. Little Bar and Tom Bergins suck.

wb (#2,214)

Also, I hate those SoFax banners that hang from the street lamps south of Little Ethiopia.

deepomega (#1,720)

@wb Whatever. I have to put up with South Robertson "SoRo" banners and an annual depressing street festival that completely shuts Robertson down.

Also Tom Bergins is a hole. But it's a hole that is never crowded, so!

barnhouse (#1,326)

Tart is kind of nice for a drink and a snack, though it's not exactly a bar. Not expensive, tho'.

deepomega (#1,720)

@barnhouse Maria, is there any way I can make a phone app out of you and have your excellent bar advice with me 24/7?

wb (#2,214)

@deepomega SoRo! That really is terrible. Far worse than SoFax.

CB in NOLA (#13,836)

Had my divorce party at Tom Bergin's in 1998. There were a lot of people. Also just so happened to be St. Paddy's Day.

Eric Spiegelman (#3,968)

@Jane Donuts SOFAX IS NOT A THING. I refuse.

barnhouse (#1,326)

@deepomega Yes! It's called my PHONE NUMBER.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@Rebecca Schoenkopf A neighborhood, by definition, has to have a bunch of "neighbors" living close to each other. Since you people over there have to drive to see anyone who lives more than one house away (I mean just look at that fucking picture!), you don't have any neighborhoods. That's why your neighborhood signs are a joke!

I tease, I tease. I love Los Angeles. In addition to NYC, the only other place with any dignity in US.

DunnAndDonne (#20,749)

@Jane Donuts Little Bar isn't bad if you like to throw darts, and Tom Bergins is being remodeled by its new owners. Could be cool when it reopens.

G.@twitter (#16,959)

@Rebecca Schoenkopf I'm with you on the nomenclature and geographically. I call it either mid-wilshire or just tell people the intersection of Wilshire & Highland. But it is indeed hard to explain: easternmost part of miracle mile, westernmost part of koreatown, southernmost part of hancock park…?

tunamelt (#2,669)

Hi there! So I can kind of explain the signs. The Department of Transportation makes these signs whenever a councilmember or neighborhood council group gets together and decides to name a neighborhood.

Nobody keeps track of these things. The City doesn't even know how many of these neighborhood signs actually exist.

For info on the process of getting the sign made: http://ladot.lacity.org/community.htm

The LA Times did a neighborhood mapping project where they tried to define the different neighborhoods, using comments from LAT readers. It's actually pretty interesting.

http://projects.latimes.com/mapping-la/neighborhoods/

ETA: Also, the Brookside is because apparently in some of those fancy Hancock Park homes, there's a brook. Like, actual real water.

@tunamelt Fancy meeting you here.

ejcsanfran (#489)

When I lived on the corner of Palms Blvd and Sawtelle, we called it "Palms/Mar Vista Adjacent." It really classed the joint up.

Also, any vaguely Beverly Hills-ish aspiring neighborhood that included "Bever" in its moniker (e.g. Beverwil) was always pronounced "beaver."

@ejcsanfran According to the Community Council, a whole swath of land east of the 405 – what any reasonable person would consider Palms – is in fact "Mar Vista." From Charnock in the south, all the way to Overland in the east, and National in the north. The reason? White people.

Although I'd like to believe the apartments in that triangle next to the 405, Palms Boulevard and the Sepulveda Channel have long forsaken the concept of "neighborhood."

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

Quit trying to make Los Angeles happen.

@boyofdestiny: It's all WeHu.

My mom says I'm Handsome Adjacent.

tunamelt (#2,669)

"There’s a major street called Western that’s on the Eastside of Los Angeles, which you should never confuse with East Los Angeles, because East Los Angeles is also a separate city, to the east of Downtown Los Angeles."

Oooh, also, people freak out if you refer to anything west of the LA River as the Eastside. That includes Silver Lake and Echo Park, which, if anything, are like North Central LA. The Eastside starts at the River.

Why are we so crazy?

deepomega (#1,720)

@tunamelt: I assume it's because of class guilt.

queensissy (#1,783)

@tunamelt: When do we get to talk about what does and doesn't comprise NELA? Eagle Rock? Mount Washington? Hermon? Garvanza? El Sereno? I've lived in LA for 24 years and am still finding neighborhoods where people get cranky if you identify them incorrectly.

@tunamelt Eagle Rock is it's own city (I think…)

Touched on here with Beverly Hills, but not fully explored, is the strange case of the independent cities that exist completely surrounded by Los Angeles, or the areas that people think are cities but are not. Century City (Part of Los Angeles!), Hollywood (Still Los Angeles!), West Hollywood (Independent City?!). Lots of people also forget that the San Fernando Valley is part of the City of Los Angeles. Doesn't anyone watch Chinatown anymore?

deepomega (#1,720)

@Andrew Ellis Miller@facebook: Forget it, Jake. It's Studio City.

jfruh (#713)

@Andrew Ellis Miller@facebook Ah, you pre-answered my question below!

E (#14,552)

@Andrew Ellis Miller@facebook ::nerd hat on:: There are 88 incorporated cities in the County of Los Angeles. Uncorporated Los Angeles itself includes a portion of north LA as large as the state of Rhode Island, as well as most of the Santa Monica Mountains, and islands scattered throughout the metro "Los Angeles" area. .

E (#14,552)

@E Oops, sorry, nearly 87 now, I forgot Vernon is on the verge of being dis-incorporated.

barnhouse (#1,326)

So TRUE. The nearest blue sign from where I am now seated reads Virgil Village, and I have never heard anyone call it that ever or even say those words aloud in any sentence. Who are the authors of the blue signs? I've often thought they must be from New York, or maybe they are Situationists.

deepomega (#1,720)

@barnhouse: I have learned from other blogs that they are basically put up if like 5 people ask nicely, and there is no limit on how many neighborhoods can exist in one area. The advantage being that once it's on a blue sign you can put that on your mailing address and your mail will get to you.

wb (#2,214)

Does that mean I can get a Historic Filipinotown Adjacent sign? Also, I probably walk my dog by your house on occasion, barnhouse, as we often pass through the oddity that is Virgil Village.

barnhouse (#1,326)

@wb !!!!

wb (#2,214)

@barnhouse It's a small Internet after all.

jfruh (#713)

On the note of bizarre Google Maps namings, there's a tiny park near my house in Baltimore that I don't think has a name (I'm not even sure it's a park in a strict sense — I think it's just a big lawn owned by a neighborhood association) that Google Maps labels "Dog Poop Park." I think all this stuff is user submitted is what I'm saying.

There's also a part of Baltimore that people keep trying to call "Little Koreatown," and I'm like, call it Koreatown or Little Korea, PICK ONE GOD DAMN IT.

Also on the note of Los Angeles: how aware are people in their mental neighborhood maps that some places are in Los Angeles (the city), others in unincorporated Los Angeles County, and still others is dozens of tiny cities that speckle through the LA conglomerate?

deepomega (#1,720)

@jfruh Utterly unaware. Especially since there are so many alternative "city" names that the post office will use to deliver mail. But of course the reality is that it is awesome since it's all about water rights, which means every time you are in a new "city" you can think about Chinatown.

deepomega (#1,720)

I have a hard time because the best I can get for my neighborhood is Pico/Robertson, but I'm actually surrounded on three sides be Beverly Hills and technically I am not on Pico so I feel like I'm stealing to call it that. Neighborhood angst.

ejcsanfran (#489)

@deepomega: Beverly Terraces? Or maybe Olympic Heights? Has kind of a poetic ring to it…

deepomega (#1,720)

@ejcsanfran North Culver City.

ejcsanfran (#489)

@deepomega:(sad trombone)

Eric Spiegelman (#3,968)

Fun Fact from Kevin Roderick! Sanford apparently refers to a post office in that neighborhood named Sanford Station, and Charles Bukowski worked there.
http://www.laobserved.com/archive/2010/08/hey_google_its_sanford.php

collier (#13,548)

@Eric Spiegelman : And I'm told Bukowski hung out at Boardner's on Hollywood & Cherokee, which used to be super cool and is still pretty cool, but less so since they "redecorated" inside and got rid of the fantastic burgundy naugahyde button-tufted booths.

melis (#1,854)

"San Gabriel Valley."

I'll let myself out.

wb (#2,214)

A personal favorite: the stretch of Beverly designated as Little Bangladesh that's lined with nothing but pupuserias and Salvadorean grocery stores.

Jane Donuts (#2,857)

@wb where the hell is that?

@wb @Jane Donuts That's my zone. There are two or three Bangla Deshi/South Asian businesses, although the 7-Eleven & most of the liquor stores & gas stations are owned/operated by Deshis.

But the 'hood is still about 90% Hispanic/Latino.

Philo Hagen (#3,619)

@wb Exactly, and the Bangladeshian groceries and restaurants aren't in that stretch of Beverly, they're further West between Normandie and Western.

Also, the link in the article to the LAT neighborhood project points to flickr. I'll post it here, because it's worth checking out. Very well done. Peruse, and see if you can figure out why San Pedro is a neighborhood of Los Angeles instead of, say, Long Beach. Correct answers may include but are not necessarily limited to: railroads, oil, water, or port! http://projects.latimes.com/mapping-la/neighborhoods/

Leigh Anne Jones (#6,588)

I am a native Northern Californian. In college, I discovered something about Southern Californians: when I'd ask them where they were from, they would say "Los Angeles," though in my experience it was never strictly true. They were always from other, you know, Los Angeles-adjacent cities, or even cities that are not particularly adjacent. Meanwhile, people who were actually from the city of Los Angeles tended not to admit it! I wonder if any of these folks had a hand in the creation of Google Maps?

Eric Spiegelman (#3,968)

@Leigh Anne Jones IN COLLEGE YOU CAN BE ANYONE

BadUncle (#153)

@Leigh Anne Jones As a native Northern and Southern Californian, I think I can lend some expertise here. Outside of the greater LA area, no one will have heard of Hawthorne or West Covina or Agoura Hills. Maybe someone in San Diego may be able to distinguish Glendale from Pico Rivera. But certainly nobody in stately Mill Valley. So, when speaking with auslanders, it's just simply easier to say "LA." Much like I say I currently live in "New York City," when speaking to an Uzbeck, and "Brooklyn" when talking to an East Coaster.

Brunhilde (#1,225)

@Leigh Anne Jones Kind of like I always say that I'm from "Northern California" instead of just saying the name of my town. Actually, even if they ask "Where in Nor Cal" I usually just describe the vague location, because there's little chance that anyone will know where it is. Most people in SoCal were shocked to learn that any amount of driving at all north of Sacramento wasn't just "Oregon".

Philo Hagen (#3,619)

@BadUncle True – and then there's the matter of Norcal and Socal cultural proximity. If someone in San Francisco says they live right near you, they usually mean they live on your block or around the corner. In Los Angeles if someone says they live right near you, they usually mean they live within a two mile radius.

Matt Baume (#3,974)

Hahaha it's a trick question! Los Angeles doesn't HAVE neighborhoods!

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@Matt Baume The trick's on you: there's no such thing as Los Angeles! They just built some shit over the San Andreas fault and had a bunch of suckers move there. Just you wait.

I grew up here! Or, near here to be specific. I grew up in Carthay Circle, which is right next to the aforementioned Carthay Square and Little Ethiopia and near Miracle Mile. This is also super close to Miracle Mile, and everyone called it Mid-Wilshire growing up? If you wanted to sound tough you could call it Mid-City and get away with it though.

Anyway, I live in Brooklyn now.

There is a map from the L.A. Dept. of City Planning that lists all the official community planning areas in the City of Los Angeles: http://www.laalmanac.com/LA/lamap3.htm

I am actually offended by Mr. Speigelman's description of "the Carthays". I am a resident, homeowner and Realtor who lives in Carthay Square who is also very proud to say exactly what neighborhood I live in. I don't feel the need to, nor do I want to say I live in Beverly Hills Adjacent. Personally, I don't see that as a plus, but more a way to stick one's nose up at others. If I ever need to add details, I say near LACMA or south of The Grove. Regardless, all three Carthays are GREAT neighborhoods just as they are, and we do not have bars on all our windows!

Eric Spiegelman (#3,968)

@Michelle Menna@facebook I love the Carthays! Beautiful and historically significant! My best friend in high school grew up there! But it was kind of a dangerous neighborhood in the early 80s. Hence the bars. AND YOU KNOW BEVERLY HILLS ADJACENT IS SOMETHING PEOPLE SAY ALL THE TIME.

@Eric Spiegelman I live in South Carthay and yes, there are bars on some of my windows but it is a crazy safe neighborhood now, and super gorgeous. I kind of wish more people knew about it, but kind of not, because it's so quiet and relatively well-priced for the gorgeous art deco apartments there. The only sad thing is when people ask where I live, I could tell them "South Carthay" and it would be so exact, there really is no other name for that neighborhood, but no one has heard of it, so I say I am southwest of the Grove, which I hate, because it's terrible to use the Grove as a landmark. Also, so true about "Beverly Hills adjacent." And there is some CRAP in the area "adjacent" to Beverly Hills, so it is such a sneaky trick. But I have to say, the Carthays can be pretty snooty too. I used to get the South Carthay newsletter (I think the neighborhood association ran out of money so they don't do it anymore) and that thing was a hot mess of white paranoia.

pepper (#676)

@Sydney Nichols@facebook The phrase "Beverly Hills-adjacent" is common in real estate ads, but rarely spoken out loud. BHPO, yes; Beverly Hills-adjacent no. Although when I was in high school, I lived in an area I used to call "Beverly Hills adjacent-adjacent," which is to say that scrap of land next to Carthay that is technically Beverly Hills, although you wouldn't know it to look at it. (The woman who wrote Slums of Beverly Hills apparently grew up on the next block over.)

SeanP (#4,058)

@Michelle Menna@facebook I think they should have called "South Carthay" "Carthay Triangle" instead. I mean, as long as we're doing the shape thing.

But other than that, yeah, East Coaster who hasn't a clue what y'all are talking about.

deepomega (#1,720)

Found it! The USPS has a "can I use this name?" lookup thing which is a great way to find commonly used neighborhood names (and some very outdated ones) for a zip code. Check it out.

wb (#2,214)

@deepomega Edendale is kinda fascinating, actually. It was the Hollywood before Hollywood: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edendale,_Los_Angeles

BadUncle (#153)

Ever since the Chicken Boy statue came down, I never know where I am anymore.

mugczar (#1,564)

@BadUncle Considering it left downtown in the mid-1980s, you've been a mess for some time! Maybe it will help to know it's been back up, now in Highland Park (On Fig between Aves. 55 and 56), since 2007.

BadUncle (#153)

@BadUncle Thank God our national treasure has been preserved.

Ken Layne (#262)

I've lived in at least half of these alleged neighborhoods, and it should be added that the people who live in these places also don't know what to call them. Your elderly landlord is going to have a totally different name for the area in question than the cops or the gardeners or the neighbor film students/band members who moved there six months ago.

Did those blue signs even *exist* before this century? I remember walking back one night about 10 years ago from Jons (now a Vons again) in East Hollywood/Los Feliz/Barnsdall Park/Sunset Junction/LA City College area, along Fountain and just west of Vermont and approaching L. Ron Hubbard Way, and noticing that the mysterious blue-sign naming society had put up a pair of signs on Fountain reading "Little Armenia." Sure, why not Little Armenia? I guess anything is Little Armenia compared to Glendale, even a street of run-down apartment courts owned by retired judges in the valley and a massive old hospital complex now used to torture the Scientology youth of the "Sea Org."

WELL DONE SPIEGELMAN.

Eric Spiegelman (#3,968)

@kenlayne The blue signs were carving up the Valley back in the 90s. Valley Village was the first one I remember. We all made fun of it. My cousin claims it's a real thing, though. Then came Valley Glen, Sherman Village, and like six others. I think mostly it's to buffer Sherman Oaks from Van Nuys and North Hollywood. I remember my dad being very upset once about the City trying to classify his section of Sherman Oaks as Van Nuys. The only time I remember him being civically active, in fact.

barnhouse (#1,326)

@Eric Spiegelman Oh, yes. Valley Village is a beautiful (and real) neighborhood. With the sweet little bridge!

@kenlayne Layne, they're tearing the LaBrea Jon's down for condos. I am full of sad.

barnhouse (#1,326)

@Rebecca Schoenkopf That is the dumbest place for condos! At least the Hollywood one isn't too far.

Hirham (#1,709)

Google maps makes some odd decisions. Anything in the London Borough of Camden appears as being in Camden Town (which is an area within Camden), so you get designations like Bloomsbury Square, Camden Town, which is like saying Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights.

Great article, wanted to add one comment.

Oakwood is a neighborhood in Venice. Sometimes referred to as the Oakwood Pentagon, bounded by Lincoln, Venice, Abbot Kinney, Pacific, and Rose.

Rick Paulas (#1,565)

A friend of mine has dubbed the area in the photograph as Fatburger Square.

I grew up in that neighborhood–graduated from John Burroughs Junior High School, a block away from the 7-11 in your pic, and lived a few blocks south, on Longwood south of Highland. Always called it mid-city, and occasionally Miracle Mile, even though that's farther west on Wilshire. Sometimes "right near Hancock Park." I can verify the "Brookside"/creek thing—my house was on it. Origin is in the Wilshire Country Club, and it's underground most of the way to La Ballona Creek except for a couple blocks along Longwood between Wilshire and Edgewood. You can see the line of trees and greenery along it on Google Maps.

The LA times mapping project is a horror. Also, you can pry my Thomas Guide from my cold dead hands.

Don't forget Tehrangeles.

collier (#13,548)

@Butterscotch Stalin : That's most of Beverly Hills, Beverlywood, and parts of Westwood.

lbf (#2,343)

Can anyone help me name my Paris neighbourhood? I live on the boulevard de Port-Royal, which means I could go for PoRo*, except I'm pretty close to Les Gobelins too (but not close enough to call it that) and no one names their hood after an RER station anyway (only metro stops count). I could be "Latin Quarter adjacent" but that sounds realestateagenty and my postal code isn't 75005. "Left Bank" is way too big and vague (I'm not some loser living at Convention, come on). HELP ME INTERNET.

*Seriously, people refer to shit north and south of line 2 around Pigalle as NoPi and SoPi now.

I understand Los Angeles has a lot of people living in or near it and we all have fantasies about the weather and the drive-thrus and things but really, come on, this sort of content shames us all.

awlsome (#706)

Oh I loved this. I'm from LA and the last place I lived was Venice Blvd and La Brea and I had no idea how to answer the where do you live question. People not from LA would hear the Venice Blvd part and say "oh! by the beach!" But I'd have to correct, "yeah, no, more like south of Hollywood." But what was my neighborhood called???

@awlsome You were Mid-City, no question? (Maybe some question.)

awlsome (#706)

@Rebecca Schoenkopf
funny, I've never heard that term used to describe anything, except in the comments above. but thanks!

Yonsei13 (#24,089)

The area to which that Park Mile sign refers, runs along Wilshire from Highland to about Rossmore. Miracle Mile similarly runs along Wilshire from Fairfax to La Brea. Neither is really a community designation, more a location.
The intersection in question is actually shared by multiple communities. Sycamore Square is bordered by La Brea, Wilshire, Highland, and Olympic. Brookside is bordered by Highland, Wilshire, Muirfield and Olympic. Both of these communities would fall into the area called Mid-Wilshire. The designation of communities and neighborhoods can become confusing mostly because they are designated by community organizations and only a few of them are recognized by Los Angeles City (with the blue signs).

omitofo (#4,921)

I grew up in Park LaBrea and still dunno what to call my hood. I usually say Miracle Mile, but I think it's too far north to be considered as such…but too far south to be considered "fairfax district."

Regarding kids who go to college and say they are from Los Angeles. I would always intro myself as "I'm from Los Angeles….the City of" My friend from San Fran (CITY OF) did the same thing. What bitches we were…

pepper (#676)

@omitofo Park La Brea is always referred to as Park La Brea. That one's easy. Almost all of the non-ethnic but specific neighborhood names under discussion here are derived from the names of former subdivisions.

Matt Cornell (#8,797)

Yeah, um, almost.

As another comment above mentioned, you can't really call anything in Echo Park or Silverlake "Eastside." White hipsters in these neighborhoods call themselves "Eastsiders" because they want to distinguish themselves from unhip white yuppies and industry douchebags. This has been settled: http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2011/07/westside_eastside_la_debate.php

I live in East Hollywood (according to some signs) and Virgil Village (according to others.) But most people like to call my neighborhood "Silverlake" even though I have to drive to get a good cup of coffee. For their part, my local gang calls themselves "West Side La Mirada Locos."

So I live on the West Side. Good enough for the Locos, good enough for me.

mandor (#1,014)

@Matt Cornell Between Choke and the two Cafecito Organicos, you really shouldn't have to drive for good coffee in LML territory.

barnhouse (#1,326)

@Matt What?! This is absolutely not so. When native Angelenos who live in Silverlake are talking with someone from Brentwood, they say they live on the Eastside, meaning that they live East of say, Western, or possibly even Highland. Though many many i-bankers who live in the Palisades or SM never go east of La Cienega, even, difficult though that may be to fathom.

What this really is, is a crude way of distinguishing between the (predominantly) white and nonwhite parts of the city.

But when you are talking with someone who lives in East LA you do not say, if you live in Silverlake, that you live on the Westside, for you do not. You say: I live in Silverlake. (Just don't say you live in Virgil Village.)

barnhouse (#1,326)

@Matt p.s. the main point is settled in the comments of the piece you cite: "Eastside" and "East L.A." are not the same thing at all.

Matt Cornell (#8,797)

@mandor Choke used to serve coffee, but my understanding is they don't anymore. I do like Cafecito Organico, and I suppose they're 15 minute walks, so not too far, but hardly what one thinks of when invoking the idea of Silverlake.

Matt Cornell (#8,797)

@barnhouse

As the cultural historian in that piece said: "A lot of people who live in those areas tend to define public discourse. Because of that power to define public discourse people think the Eastside is Echo Park and Silver Lake. And that's inaccurate according to the city's history."

White hipsters (likely in denial that they are the advance guard of gentrification) want to distinguish themselves from less hip, predominantly white sections of the city. But that's not really a geographic description, it's a socioeconomic one. As you've said, people who use this criteria can't even decide on where the border is (Western? La Cienega? Highland?) The true geographic and historical dividing line is the river.

Sorry man, I'm a West Sider. I never argue with the La Mirada Locos.

Matt Cornell (#8,797)

@barnhouse Sorry, not the river. Main Street. But hey, close enough!

mandor (#1,014)

@Matt Cornell Oops, shows how often I went to Choke!

barnhouse (#1,326)

@Matt any dividing line we care to choose is necessarily arbitrary. The conventions for Eastside/Westside haven't changed much since before the youngs moved to Silverlake, I don't think… plus which, the "white hipsters" who moved to Silverlake and Echo Park in the mid to late 1980s and after are in no way "the advance guard of gentrification." There was a time not so long ago when West Hollywood was a very low-rent neighborhood. Same goes for Venice, many parts of SM and a lot of other places that were "gentrified" during or before the 1980s. The real "advance guard" bought AIR buildings downtown and in Venice in the late 60s, when zoning laws for AIR were still very narrowly restricted.

Anyhoo. There's no reason why the conventions of East LA should alter longstanding methods of referring to "Eastside" or "Westside", west of downtown.

bobert (#10,044)

@Matt Cornell The don't like the term "Eastside" either but it's just a name. Every Angelino knows what someone is really referring to when they hear that term. The author's use of "gentlemen's agreement" is spot-on.

I grew up on Hoover, the literal border (according to the neighborhood council website) between East Hollywood and Silverlake, on the EH side. Close enough to walk to the Sunset Junction. But I live in Virgil Village technically. Cherry trees, liquor stores, and evangelical churches in store fronts. La Mirada Locos still tagging X13 everywhere.

undeclared@twitter (#24,131)

I've lived in a no-man's land that we called "Cheviot Hills Adjacent". We were near Hamilton High, which has SoRo signs outside, yet it was once called Cheviot Hills High (there are still Cheviot signs left on campus). Before that I lived in Rancho Park, but my street had a sign that was different. Back then there was an article in the LA Times about workers just putting up signs wherever. Larchmont folks had a fit, but only those who complained had the signed moved to the right place.

Mid-Wilshire. But everyone I know that lives there says Hancock Park, probably because its zoned for 3rd St School. I think some of the confusion comes from the fact that the area South of Wilshire was a historic African-American neighborhood and was viewed, till the 1970s or so, as quite distinct from the surrounding neighborhoods.

As for my own LA neighborhood story, I used to live on Sweetzer btwen Beverly and Melrose, which everyone calls West Hollywood, but is really West Hollywood adjacent.

And great post. I miss my Thomas Guide.

Dorian (#24,205)

@Helaine Olen@twitter just say "black". That PC crap is ridiculous.

Dorian (#24,205)

East L.A. is not its own city. It's unincorporated and the post office defaults to Los Angeles. That makes it part of L.A. at least from a civic identity standpoint.

I live in Mid-City, which is not in the middle of the city at all… but there are signs that say "Welcome to Mid-City." Go figure.

collier (#13,548)

I haven't heard of HALF of these neighborhoods, and I've lived in L.A. for nine years *and I work in real estate*.

Philo Hagen (#3,619)

A lot of the confusion comes from realtors and neighborhood associations (property owners) trying to change the names of lesser identified neighborhoods to something fashionable sounding in an effort to increase property values. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned that South Central Los Angeles in theory no longer exists, thanks to just such a campaign. Me, I live in Koreatown, though when I tell someone that it doesn't take into account that Koreatown is larger than a lot of cities – so I usually just say I live near Wilshire and Western.

omitofo (#4,921)

@Philo Hagen or you could say "by the Wiltern"

pepper (#676)

@Philo Hagen Wilshire Center also works – it's what people used to call (maybe still call?) the big insurance-industry district along Wilshire.

The renaming of South-Central is goofy. You're supposed to call it South L.A., but that's also commonly used as shorthand for the southeastern industrial suburbs like Vernon, Huntington Park, South Gate, Cudahy and Bell, plus the bits of Los Angeles proper that cling to their borders. I suppose when South L.A. lost the auto factories, tire factories and aircraft plants, it lost everything else too.

spite house (#24,469)

I signed up just to ask this question because I'm seriously baffled.

I grew up in LA and just moved back here after a decade away. I live right by Santa Monica and Normandie, which is obviously Little Armenia and also Little El Salvador and kinda Thai Town. But I ALSO have been thinking about it as East Hollywood, and that's what I say when people ask what part of town I'm in — until I was angrily corrected by a lifelong Angeleno who insisted that I do not live in East Hollywood, rather in Mid-Wilshire. Which sounds crazy to me but what do I know? So — what neighborhood is this? Halp!

Also, "HaFo SaFo" is both the best and most idiotic thing I've ever heard of.

Eric Spiegelman (#3,968)

@spite house Definitely East Hollywood.

spite house (#24,469)

@Eric Spiegelman Whew, okay, I'm not going nuts.

This same person also denied the existence of Koreatown — "That's MID-CITY, what is this Koreatown crap" — so I have no idea why I listened to them.

den21jad (#24,710)

Cool!

fletagail (#87,699)

This confusing. I not like it.

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