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I Heart LA: Streetcar Neighborhoods



My Love Letter to Los Angeles (Part 1)

It’s Valentine’s Day, which seems like a good time for me to write a love letter to Los Angeles. I moved out here from Philadelphia in 2002, landing in Echo Park. I originally thought I would be here for a couple of years, before my design career took me back to the east coast. But then life happened and I fell madly in love with Los Angeles and a certain handsome Angelino and California turned into home.

I think a big part of my falling in love with the Los Angeles was first falling in love with my neighborhood. My early memories of Echo Park: lots of boozy nights at the Short Stop and Little Joy, hiking in Elysian Park, Dodger Games (and fireworks), fresh tortillas, taking the bus to work, painting on my living room floor, buying noodles at the asian market, riding in paddle boats on the lake, the view of DTLA from my apartment, BBQ’s, thrift shopping, losing my clothes at the laundry mat, shopping at Fashions of Echo Park, the endless sound of helicopters at night, stocking up for parties at Pioneer Market and lots of street burritos.

13 years later, I still live in Echo Park, 6 blocks from my original apartment. My husband and I own a Craftsman compound in Angeleno Heights and where we have a great view of DTLA from our front porch. He has lived in the neighborhood since 1987. We know a lot of the neighbors on our block. It’s really diverse. There are Chinese families, Latino families, African American families, gay families, yuppies, hipsters, yupsters, actors, designers, plumbers, bloggers, lawyers, small business owners, some 90+ year olds, punk rockers, some kids and a few midwesterners like myself. I love the energy, the excitement and the diversity in the neighborhood.

Streetcar Neighborhoods – 2015

I have lived in a number of places, some that I loved and some that honestly kind of depressed me. I have come to the conclusion that it is really important to be in love with your neighborhood/city. There is a sense of pride, excitement and also safety that you feel when you are rooted in a community. Neighborhoods create shared experiences between people. You go to the same schools, restaurants, parks, you see the same murals, you know some of the same people, you might listen to the same bands, watch the same sunset, play in the same fountain.

People always say Los Angeles is a collection of small towns. You might know a handful of them well, but often times people haven’t explored nearby neighborhoods. With that in mind, I am going to focus on writing about neighborhoods on the blog in 2015. Last week I wrote a bit about Boyle Heights. I’m going to post more about Boyle Heights history next week after I visit the historical society. And next month we will take a peek at Hi-Fi and then we are going to head over to Lincoln Heights. If there are specific neighborhoods you want to know more about just email me.

I’m focusing first on streetcar neighborhoods, neighborhoods that were laid out in the streetcar era. The streetcars may be gone, but they have left behind a legacy of grid streets, density, access to transit, walkable neighborhoods. These are the types of neighborhoods that people are starting to appreciate again as we move away from a car centered society. Many of the streetcar neighborhoods are near to DTLA, which is undergoing a fast paced revitalization. I’ll be writing about DTLA too.

My goal is to make my neighborhood blog posts useful to people exploring new neighborhoods where they might want buy a house. But I also want people who are just curious about Los Angeles to find them useful, fun and interesting. Wherever you are, I hope this blog helps you fall in love with Los Angeles!





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Boyle Heights Neighborhood, Los Angeles 90033, 90063, 90023

Each month in 2015, I’m going to explore a different Los Angeles streetcar neighborhood. All aboard, our first stop is Boyle Heights!


The boundaries of Boyle Heights as drawn by the LA Times.




4th street across from Mariachi Plaza

Places to Eat & Drink
Guisados  Amazing tacos (this was their first location, they now also in Echo Park and DTLA)
Un Solo Sol Kitchen  This is a hidden gem on Mariachi Plaza – delish latin american vegetarian food
Manuel’s Original El Tepeyac Cafe  Amazing burritos – get the Hollenbeck burrito!
Otomisan Restaurant  Well loved Japanese mom & pop restaurant
Thai Deli  Japanese – Thai – Korean mashup
Indie Brewing Co. & Taproom  Coming soon (mid 2015)
Eastside Luv Wine Bar & Queso  Super fun wine bar with good decor, live music and burlesque


Getting There
The Gold Line stop in Mariachi Plaza lets you easily get to the Arts District, Little Tokyo, Union Station, China Town, Cypress Park, Highland Park, Pasadena, etc. You can also change trains at Union Station to connect with other Metro lines to get all over the city and you can transfer to Amtrak to go cross-country.
In 2029 high-speed rail is slated to open connecting Los Angeles (Union Station) with northern stops including San Francisco. 2029 sounds far away but it’s actually only 14 years from now.




Mariachi Plaza, located in the heart of Boyle Heights, is a plaza where large groups of musicians have gathered daily, both day and night, since the 1930’s, hoping to be hired.


Hollenbeck Park, built in the 1880’s, is a larger sibling to Echo Park Lake. It’s only 1 mile east of SCI-Arc and the Arts District in DTLA. It hosts a new playground, a bandstand and a lot of space to sprawl out.









Courtyard of the International Institute of Los Angeles, founded in 1914 to help immigrants. The Boyle Heights Historical Society is located upstairs.


Hollenbeck Memorial Chapel, is a hidden architectural gem in Los Angeles. It was built in unknown buildings in 1908 Chapel erected in honor of young John Edward Hollenbeck, Jr. (1854-1857) by his mother, the philanthropist Elizabeth Hollenbeck.

Evergreen Cemeteryopened in 1877,  is the oldest and one of the largest cemeteries in the city. Many of the pioneers and founders of Los Angeles are buried at Evergreen Cemetery. Cool mortuary architecture, sweeping views of the snow-capped mountains, and of the DTLA sky line make this a great place to visit and picnic.




The Los Angeles River

In 2014, Army Corp of Engineers recommended the larger 1 Billion dollar proposal to revitalize the Los Angeles River. While some of that funding is still being sought it is clear that there is a lot of change coming to the LA River corridor. Plans include parks, bike paths, habitat, access to the water, and a lot of economic revitalization. A number of projects are slated for the section of the river located between DTLA and Elysian Valley.

Below is a collage from the Greenway 2020 proposal to make the LA River more accessible.


The Piggyback Yard – There is a proposal to turn the huge Piggyback Yards (railroad yard), along the LA River into a massive riverfront green space. It is not a done deal yet, but it could be a huge addition to the city and amazing for Boyle Heights. Stay tuned!

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What else should we add about Boyle Heights?
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