LA Times Tries to Define Los Angeles


When  Jenny Beorkrem set out to make this awesome typographical map of Los Angeles, she was well aware of the politics, insanely intense neighborhood pride, and the death war that is launched when you talk to the wrong person at the wrong bar and refer to Silver Lake as the “East Side.”  So, ideally, the LA Times is taking note of all this as it culls together its “Mapping LA” neighborhood project.

Designed to  be “a tool that will allow reporters and editors to be consistent when describing neighborhoods in news stories in a city that sometimes seems to change the names like most people change socks,” the Times says it’s intent on drilling down, once and for all, who lives where.  It’s a pretty nifty interactive map – probably one of the better things the Times has done lately.

Some quick thoughts on this after the jump.

First, it’s nice that the tired and trite Eastside vs. Westside debate is preempted by clumping Silver Lake, Los Feliz, and Echo Park into the “Central” region of the city, and naming Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, etc as part of the “Eastside.”  This raises the question of whether the people doing this are from LA and know better, or whether they are not from LA and know how to read a map.

As you can see from the comments for Silver Lake, there already has been some nice web 2.0 input.  I guess the designers initially compounded Silver Lake into “Silverlake” (for newcomers to the city, if you want to piss off someone from that neighborhood, combining the two words is the way to do it), which has since been fixed.

USC is its own neighborhood?  When I was there, I thought we were part of Exposition Park?

I’m going to explore this throughout the day, but my final thought for now is how much I wish the Times had more relevance.  If the Times wasn’t crumbling under its own inefficient artifice, this project in nomenclature might actually instill some sort of permanance in our local dialogue.

15 thoughts on “LA Times Tries to Define Los Angeles”

  1. “This raises the question of whether the people doing this are from LA and know better, or whether they are not from LA and know how to read a map.”

    What do you mean?

  2. @EL CHAVO!: Ah, I mean, the map either is created by Los Angeles residents who know better than to call Silver Lake the “Eastside” vs. created by Chicago folk who looked at a map of Los Angeles and saw that these ‘hoods are centrally located.

  3. Ugh, it’s no use.

    My big gripe with their defition is that they list the Pico/Robertson neighborhood as being on the Westside, including parts east of Robertson, and the southern border at 18th St. Yet if you go south of 18th, you’re suddently in “Mid City” which is defined as Central–in other words, you’re suddenly east of where you were by not moving east at all! Examples like this make it clear that mapping has a whole lot to do with racial and socioeconomic factors, not just geographic ones (Pico/Robertson having houses and being more white, and the neighborhood to the south having more apartments and black and Latino residents).

  4. Our house – according to those wacky blue signs – is supposedly in Valley Glen. But, the United States Postal Service says it’s North Hollywood. So did the MLS.

    I used to live in North Hollywood. But, my mail said Studio City. Or Toluca Lake. Or North Hollywood.

    It used to be that I didn’t care about any of this. But, neighborhood pride aside, it does matter when you own your home. Toluca Lake has a lot higher resale value than NoHo. So you can see where this will get very, very ugly.

  5. This map shows me in Mar Vista.
    My mail goes through Culver City.
    LA Police patrol the streets.
    DWP serves power and water.
    Verizon has my phone franchise.
    I’m not a number, nor a place.

  6. oh and as far as USC goes, USC is in Expo Park, I believe, and the area north of Jefferson but south of Adams is North University Park.

    At least that’s what the signs say. West Adams is kind of in there somewhere, too, somehow.

  7. for newcomers to the city, if you want to piss off someone from that neighborhood, combining the two words is the way to do it

    Hahah! I’ve lived in Silverlake for 16 years and still make it one word.

    Here’s some trivia for you, it was named for Herman Silver, a water commissioner for the DWP. I think the confusing part is most of the time when a lake is named for a person, it’s reversed, Lake X. Like Lake George, Lake Mead or Lake Powell. Nobody’d be tempted to call it Lakesilver.

    (I think this whole neighborhood thing is just an excellent project so LA Times can get lots of web traffic.)

  8. @fatpinkchicken: Yup, I stand corrected. It is totally weird to me that there is an artificial distinction between University Park and Exposition Park. As far I can tell, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the two. If people insist upon carving out a neighborhood for USC, then, at the very least, it should be considered part of University Park. I probably should be posting this on the Times’s website …

    @cybele: HA! You probably are right.

  9. They probably only made USC its own neighborhood because so many Times people are Trojans, and they wanted it to be separate from the neighborhood.

  10. Jason is spot on with his comment above. In the L.A. Times division, my house falls into Toluca Lake. One of the comments points out that it’s actually in “Toluca Woods,” which was just made up, in my opinion, to give our houses a little more oomph in real estate ads. Otherwise, we’re North Hollywood, which we are and I don’t really have a problem with that. Until I want to sell my house some day. Then I’ll care.

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