- East Los Angeles (region)
:"Alternate meaning: East LA, an unincorporated community bordering the East LA region described below."East Los Angeles (also known as East L.A. or the Eastside or East Los) is the portion of the City of
Los Angeles, Californiathat lies east of the Los Angeles Riverand Downtown Los Angeles, west of the San Gabriel Valleyand the unincorporated area of East Los Angeles, Californiaand City Terrace, California, south of the Crescenta Valley, and north of Vernon, Californiaand City of Commerce, California.
The short form for the region, "East L.A.," is an imprecise term which can mean different things depending on usage and context. As a geographical term, it can either refer to the region described here or the unincorporated community of East Los Angeles. As a cultural term, East L.A., has developed to refer to the predominantly
Hispaniccommunities lying east of the city of Los Angeles, centered around the unincorporated area of East Los Angeles and City Terrace, but also the Los Angeles district of Boyle Heights. To disambiguate between this area and the broader eastern region of the City of Los Angeles, a collection of neighborhoods and communities lying within Los Angeles city boundaries, locals have come to use the term "Eastside" for the region (on the example of "the Westside") to emphasize its character as a region which may vary in characteristics from those of the unincorporated East L.A. area.
In appearance, while northern East Los Angeles may vary in character, much of East Los Angeles is a throwback to Los Angeles' early 20th century heritage. The dusty streets up and down the Monterey Hills, on which much of the region sits, are often winding and narrow. On primary and secondary thoroughfares, at times busy industrial concerns and/or shops sit side-by-side with single-family residences, in contrast to heavily zoned areas like parts of the
San Fernando Valleyand the Westside, where it is less common. In some areas backyard agriculture is still widely practiced: as was colorfully depicted in the films "My Family" (aka "Mi Familia") and " Stand and Deliver" (which was set in an East L.A. high school representing James A. Garfield High School). Of these, many families maintained chicken coops and citrus groves in their backyards long after most of Los Angeles had abandoned these vestiges of its rural past. In some areas, however, this is less common or non-existent, such as Montecito Heights and Mt. Washington, among others.
Origins (late 18th-early 20th centuries)
Most of what is now considered East Los Angeles was, at the time of Spanish settlement, parceled out among the Pueblo of Los Angeles, the
Mission San Gabriel Arcangel, and several rancho. Large-scale development commenced with the arrival of the Southern Pacific Railroadin 1875, with numerous electric streetcarlines being laid over the following three decades to connect the area to fast-growing Downtown Los Angeles. Areas along the Arroyo Secosuch as Montecito Heights and Mt. Washington were once among the wealthiest neighborhoods in the region, their winding streets lined with finely detailed Mediterranean villas and Craftsman frame houses and bungalows that enjoy some of the finest views in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Spanish Colonial bungalows and duplexes sprouted like mushrooms in working-class areas such as El Sereno and City Terrace.
The East Los Angeles region has long had a very high concentration of Hispanic residents, primarily of Mexican descent. Since the early 20th century, it has been the focus of the Hispanic population in Los Angeles County. This was not always the case: areas of northeastern Los Angeles had heavy
Anglopopulations until the 1930s, when the development of whites-only areas in Mid-Wilshireand the West Side drew away most of the area's Anglo population. In the southern portions of the region, there were also large and diverse non-Hispanic populations; Boyle Heights was heavily Serbian, Jewish, and Japanese, and Lincoln Heights was heavily Italian. However, most of these groups moved to segregated suburbs after World War II, and Mexicans who had been forced into squalid slums such as Boyle Heights' infamous "The Flats" (later the site of the infamous Aliso Village housing project) seized the opportunity to move into the region's housing at low prices. With the exception of a small but distinct Filipino population in areas such as Eagle Rock, Glassell Park and Atwater Village, the region was primarily Mexican American by 1950.
The areas surrounding the unincorporated area of East L.A. formed the political and cultural heart of Mexican-American life in Los Angeles County during a period when the overall population of the county was mostly white (non-Hispanic) and often quite hostile to Latinos. Much of the violence of the
Zoot Suit Riotsoccurred in the region. Today East L.A. is populated mostly by immigrants of Mexican descent, and their American children.
Many second and third-generation Hispanic or Central Americans have since moved from East Los Angeles to other parts of Southern California. This movement began soon after
World War II, with middle-class families settling in San Gabriel Valleysuburbs such as Baldwin Park and Alhambra. From the 1970s onward, Orange County, the San Fernando Valley, the Inland Empire, and the Gateway Citiesregion of southeast Los Angeles County have also been major destinations for upwardly mobile Latino families. Meanwhile, recent immigrants from Mexicoand Central Americahave settled in the low-income parts of East Los Angeles where the parents of many U.S.-born Hispanics once lived. At the same time, there are parts of "greater" East L.A., such as the cities of Montebello, Whittier and Pico Rivera, where many U.S.-born Hispanics still live. Since the 1970s, many Hispanic immigrants have moved into areas that had previously been heavily African American, in areas such as Compton, Lynwood, and the Watts district of Los Angeles, while in those areas in which Hispanics moved out, Chinese Americans moved in.
Since the late 1990s,
gentrificationhas started to occur in formerly working-class pockets of East Los Angeles, and middle-class pockets in the northwest of the region, although mainly in the region's northern portions. Eagle Rock has seen a considerable influx of upper-middle-class white and Filipino residents drawn by the area's architecture and schools, the latter of which are some of the best in the Los Angeles Unified School District. High housing prices in other parts of Los Angeles are leading whites to settle in pockets of northeastern Los Angeles such as Glassell Park, Atwater Village, and Highland Park, as well as Montecito Heights, Mt. Washington, and Elysian Valley, as an affordable alternative to Silver Lake.
Communities of East Los Angeles
San Gabriel Valley
California State University, Los Angeles- University Hills
*Calvary Cemetery (
Roman Catholic) - East L.A.
*Estrada Courts Murals - Boyle Heights
* Heritage Square - Montecito Heights & Lincoln Park
Home of Peace Cemetery(Jewish) - East L.A.
Mariachi Plaza- Boyle Heights
Occidental College- Eagle Rock
Plaza de la Raza- Lincoln Heights
Southwest Museum- Mt. Washington
*Sanchez Adobe - Montebello
El Pino (The Pine Tree)- East L.A.
Famous natives and residents
Oscar de la Hoya
Edward James Olmos
Charles Fletcher Lummis
Zoot Suit Riots
Born in East L.A.
Romo, Ricardo (1983). "East Los Angeles: History of a Barrio".
Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-72041-6.
* [http://www.elaguide.org East LA Guide]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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