Crenshaw Boulevard Is Getting A 1.3-Mile Artistic Tribute To Black LA

A rendering of views to the east from the upper level of the viewing deck at Sankofa Park, located where Crenshaw Boulevard and Leimert Boulevard split. (Courtesy of Perkins+Will)

When the Metro's new Crenshaw/LAX line opens in summer 2020, riders will travel through a 1.3-mile-long art project celebrating L.A.'s African-American achievement.

"Destination Crenshaw" is set to break ground in early 2019, and will flank the route along Crenshaw Boulevard. Renderings were released earlier this month.

"The hope,"Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson said, "is that [people] understand that L.A., among other things, is quintessentially a black city. In the same way that it's a Latino city, in the same way it's a Jewish city, in the same way that it's a Japanese city. The stories of black people in this town are central to what this town is, and what it continues to develop into."

Harris-Dawson called Destination Crenshaw an "open-air museum" that is set to feature monuments, art, park space, and other cultural experiences celebrating black Los Angeles. It'll be one of the first stops for people taking the Metro from LAX, with clear views of the surrounding art.

A rendering of the proposed makeover of the Crenshaw Wall, including art restoration, wall stabilization, and the installation of a parklet, including signage, shade structures, and landscaping. (Courtesy of Perkins+Will)

The inspiration for the project was the Crenshaw Wall, Harris-Dawson said. That's the massive graffiti project that already stands in Crenshaw, which Harris-Dawson wants to see restored and enhanced.

"But also many of our artists that are in this community have art that you have to travel outside South L.A. to see," Harris-Dawson said. "We wanted to create a space for them to show their work in their own neighborhoods."

An open call went out for artists earlier this year, but another is planned for 2019.

The space will have more than 125 spots for art, according to Harris-Dawson, including 3D art, street art, fine art, and more. The art will tell stories curated by the project's historian.

Even the parks will be part of telling the story.

"There may be a [play structure] there that may spell out the words, 'say it loud,'" Harris-Dawson said. "So that's a way in which, as a park, it is a functional tool, but it tells a story about political protest, and community confrontation, and African-American music in a direct way."

An aerial rendering of Crenshaw Boulevard from the Hyde Park Station at Slauson Avenue (left) to Leimert Park (right) showing various Destination Crenshaw project element locations. (Courtesy of Perkins+Will)

Actress/creator Issa Rae and rapper Nipsey Hussle have signed on to help raise visibility for the project.

Harris-Dawson hopes Destination Crenshaw will help bring back creative businesses and boost the local economy.

"African-American culture is consumed by the world, in every corner of the world, but African-American neighborhoods have not necessarily been able to take advantage of that," Harris-Dawson said.

"Whether it's streetware and street fashion that is largely generated by young people in the Crenshaw neighborhood — they make a sneaker popular, and then you have to go to Melrose to get the sneaker. And the same is true for all forms of art," he said.

A rendering of a view from the east of Sankofa Park, located where Crenshaw Boulevard and Leimert Boulevard split. (Courtesy of Perkins+Will)

Destination Crenshaw is set to open in spring 2020. They also have a public kickoff event planned for Feb. 8, 2019, where they hope to reveal a couple of the key artists contributing to the project, according to Harris-Dawson.

Here's a promotional video from earlier this year:


You made it! Congrats, you read the entire story, you gorgeous human. This story was made possible by generous people like you. Independent, local journalism costs $$$$$. And now that LAist is part of KPCC, we rely on that support. So if you aren't already, be one of us! Help us help you live your best life in Southern California. Donate now.