So a few weeks ago I went on about how the how turning Echo Park’s derelict Ramona Theater back into a working movie house would be a big step towards making a pretty great neighborhood a really great neighborhood (I’ve got an update on that coming soon, BTW). Well, I’ve been poking around another little neighborhood next to a big park, and over the past few weeks I’ve fallen in love with the Los Angeles community of Westlake.
More after the jump!
According to the Wikipedia entry for Westlake, in the 1920’s it “resembled the Upper East Side of Manhattan”. Businessmen and movie stars made their homes there, and the evidence of their upscale lifestyes is in the fancy mansions of Alvarado Terrace and luxury hotels turned apartment highrises over on the west side of MacArthur Park. Much of Westlake’s rich cultural and architectural heritage is evident despite the layers of grime and a decades-long reputation for being a shitty part of town.
Speaking of the park, sure there’s still a crackhead or two that’s gotta be swept up, and you can probably still buy fake IDs, bogus social security numbers and bootlegged movies just outside the Red Line station, but with the recent installation of a rec center, LAPD security cameras, and a grass-roots revitalization effort (led by Sandi “Mama” Romero of Mama’s Hot Tamales Cafe), MacArthur Park is on a quiet and assured comeback.
Just think, a five-minute cab ride from all the downtown bars, right on the Red Line, close to all the shops and restaurants in Koreatown, close to USC and Staples Center, and best of all the rent on awesome apartments is dirt cheap. I’m finding one bedrooms with hardwood floors and parking spaces for the same price as some glorified closet space in Hollywood (a truly shitty part of town, in my opinion) or downtown. Westlake may not be quite “there” yet, but I’m ditching Los Feliz for this place as soon as possible.
And who can forget Langer’s!?
Images by Fire Monkey Fish. Check out his full Westlake photo set.