Leimert Park
Leimert Park signage on Leimert Boulevard immediately north of Vernon Avenue
Leimert Park signage on Leimert Boulevard immediately north of Vernon Avenue
Leimert Park is located in Los Angeles
Leimert Park
Leimert Park
Location within South Los Angeles
Coordinates: 34°00′45″N 118°19′34″W / 34.0125°N 118.3261°W / 34.0125; -118.3261Coordinates: 34°00′45″N 118°19′34″W / 34.0125°N 118.3261°W / 34.0125; -118.3261
CountryUnited States
StateCalifornia
CountyLos Angeles
CityLos Angeles
Time zonePacific
ZIP Code
90008
Area code(s)323

Leimert Park (/ləˈmɜːrt/; lə-MURT) is a neighborhood in the South Los Angeles region of Los Angeles, California.

Developed in the 1920s as a mainly residential community, it features Spanish Colonial Revival homes and tree-lined streets. The Life Magazine/Leimert Park House is a Los Angeles Historic Cultural Monument.[1]

The core of Leimert Park is Leimert Park Village, which consists of Leimert Plaza Park, shops on 43rd Street and on Degnan Boulevard,[2] and the Vision Theater. The village has become the center of both historical and contemporary African-American art, music, and culture in Los Angeles.[3]

History

1927 Los Angeles Times map of Leimert Park and surrounding area, including (4) proposed connection of Santa Barbara Avenue (now Martin Luther King Drive) with Angeles Mesa Drive (now Crenshaw Boulevard) via a new 133-foot-wide Leimert Boulevard and (7) paving and widening of Angeles Mesa Drive with two roadways from Vernon south to 79th Street

Leimert Park is named for its developer, Walter H. Leimert, who began the subdivision business center project in 1928. He had the master plan designed by the landscape architecture firm of the Olmsted Brothers company which was managed by the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903), the landscape designer known for Central Park in New York City and other major projects.[4] Leimert Park was one of the first comprehensively planned communities in Southern California to be designed for upper and middle-income families. It was considered a model of urban planning for its time: automobile traffic near schools and churches was minimized, utility wires were buried or hidden from view in alleys, and densely planted trees lined its streets. Walter Leimert envisioned a self-sufficient commercial district community, with a town square, movie theater, transportation, and retail shopping. Leimert Park was considered a desirable community, and one of the first to have a Home Owners' Association (HOA).

Elderly Japanese-American residents still live in the area and some of the Japanese gardens still exist. The Crenshaw Square Shopping Center was inspired and designed in the style of Japanese architecture.[5] The center was a hub of retailing in the mid 1950s.[6]

In 2013 and 2014, resurgent home prices in South Los Angeles spurred much interest among many young professionals into moving into Leimert Park and among other areas within the region. Observers took note with mixed feelings: fears of gentrification and hope for increased business investment.[7]

Geography

Leimert Park boundaries as mapped by the Los Angeles Times

Neighborhood boundaries

According to LAist: The boundaries are Obama Boulevard (formerly Rodeo Road) on the north, 4th Avenue and Roxton Avenue on the east, West Vernon Avenue on the south, and Crenshaw Boulevard on the west. The Crenshaw District lies to the south, View Park and Baldwin Hills are to the west, Vermont Square is to the east, and Jefferson Park is to the north.[8]

According to the Los Angeles Times Mapping L.A. project: Leimert Park is bounded by Exposition Boulevard on the north, South Van Ness Avenue and Arlington Avenue on the east, West Vernon Avenue on the south, and Victoria Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard on the west.[9] Jefferson Park is to the north, the Exposition Park neighborhood and Vermont Square are to the east, Hyde Park to the south and View Park-Windsor Hills and Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw to the west. Leimert Park angles to the West Adams district on the northwest.

According to Google Maps: the boundaries are Exposition Boulevard on the north, Western Avenue on the east, West Vernon Avenue on the south, and Crenshaw Boulevard on the west.[10]

According to the books "Leimert Park (Images of America)" and "Los Angeles Residential Architecture", Leimert Park was established with the following boundaries: Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. (formerly Santa Barbara Boulevard ) on the north, Arlington on the east, Vernon to the south and Crenshaw Boulevard (formerly Angeles Mesa Drive) on the west.[11][12][13]

Historic Leimert Park Village

Within the Leimert Park neighborhood lies the city-designated "Historic Leimert Park Village". On May 1, 2018, the Los Angeles City Council designated the area between the intersections at Vernon Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard, 43rd Street and Crenshaw Boulevard, Leimert Boulevard and 43rd Street, Leimert Boulevard and Vernon Avenue, and Degnan Boulevard and 43rd Street as “Historic Leimert Park Village".[14] The Department of Transportation was directed to erect permanent ceremonial sign(s) to this effect at these locations.

In 2005, a "Leimert Park Village" brick gateway marker was installed.[15] [16]

Demographics

A total of 11,782 people lived in Leimert Park according to the 2000 U.S. census— counted 9,880 residents in the 1.19 square-mile neighborhood, about the same as the population density in the city as a whole. The median age was 38, considered old as opposed to the rest of the city. The percentage of residents aged 65 and above was among the county's highest.[9]

Within the neighborhood, African Americans made up 79.6% of the population, with Latinos at 11.4%, Asian 4.9%, white 1.5%, and Other 3.2%. El Salvador and Mexico were the most common places of birth for the 10.7% of the residents who were born abroad. This is a low percentage of foreign-born when compared with the overall city or LA county.[9]

The median household income in 2008 dollars was $45,865, considered average for the city but low for the county. The percentage of households earning $20,000 or less was high, compared to the county at large. The average household size of 2.2 people was low for both the city and the county. Renters occupied 54.1% of the housing units, and homeowners occupied the rest.[9]

In 2000 there were 23 families headed by single parents, or 8.7%, a rate that was low for the city and the county. There were 990 veterans, or 11.1% of the population, considered high when compared with the city overall. The percentage of veterans who served in the Vietnam War was among the county's highest.[9]

Arts and culture

The Watchtower Assembly Hall, 1973, formerly the Leimert Theater, later the Vision Theater.

Leimert Park Village

The core of Leimert Park is Leimert Park Village (alternately called Historic Leimert Park Village), which consists of Leimert Plaza Park, two blocks of 43rd Street, and one block of Degnan Boulevard. Leimert Park Village has historically served as a hub of African-American art and culture in Los Angeles, has been compared to both Harlem and Greenwich Village, [17][4] and in 1998 was seen as "the cultural heartbeat of black Los Angeles."[18] The Leimert Park station of the Crenshaw/LAX Line line is under construction.

Vision Theatre

April 21, 2019 marked the 87th anniversary of the opening of the Vision Theatre (initially named the Leimert). This Mediterranean Revival Style theater is at the south end of Leimert Park Village at 3341 West Forty-Third place and Degnan Avenue. It was designed in 1931 by the architectural firm Morgan, Walls & Clements and opened as a movie theater on April 21, 1932.

In 1977 the theater became a Jehovah's Witness Chapel known as the Watchtower. Actress Marla Gibbs bought the theater in 1990 and renamed it the Vision Theatre, intending to make it a venue for African-American movies, live theater, and dance productions. In 1992 the LA civil unrest and an economic recession hit the area hard, and the property fell into foreclosure. The City of Los Angeles acquired the theater in 1999. The Department of Cultural Affairs manages the theater with the goal of providing a performing arts venue for professional performing arts presentations; a training center for talent reflective of South Los Angeles; and a venue for the production and presentation of world-class theater, music, and dance performances.

The first phase of renovations to the Vision Theatre included upgrades to the lobbies, restrooms, office space, and classrooms in 2011. Phase II of the renovation began in March 2018. The rehabilitation of the remaining portions of the theater includes the historic refurbishment and expansion of the theater and auditorium, and the addition of an orchestra pit and a fly loft. The grand reopening of the Vision Theatre is planned for 2021.

The Leimert Park Book Fair

The Leimert Park Book Fair began in 2007 and attracts "more than 200 authors, poets, spoken-word artists, storytellers and other participants."[19]

Destination Crenshaw

Sankofa Park will anchor the northern end of Destination Crenshaw, an open-air museum of African American history and culture that will extend 1.3-miles (2.1 km) down Crenshaw Boulevard through the Hyde Park neighborhood.

Entertainment

The village has blues and jazz night clubs, theaters for musicals, dramatic performances, award ceremonies, comedy specials, and poetry readings, and venues for hip hop. Project Blowed is the longest-running hip hop open mic in the world, started in 1994 by rapper Aceyalone and friends. It is hosted by Kaos Network, and held every Thursday night at 43rd Place and Leimert Boulevard.[20]

Parks and recreation