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Neighborhood Project: West Adams

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West Adams is labeled "Historic West Adams" on the freeway exits leading into the neighborhood, but "historic" is not just a euphemism for old, rundown and where the elite used to want to live -- it actually has a lot of history! Although it's one of those areas that provokes reactions of "really? Is it safe?" when you tell people you live there, the beauties are many and varied.

West Adams "was once the wealthiest district in the city, with its Victorian mansions and sturdy Craftsman bungalows home to Downtown businessmen and professors at USC." - Wikipedia

Boundaries: Varies depending on the source: Figueroa Street on the east, the 10 freeway to the north and Jefferson Boulevard to the South are pretty clear, but it either stops at Western Avenue or extends past Crenshaw to West Blvd, according to the West Adams-Normandie Historic Overlay.

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Subway stops: Well not exactly, but if you take the bus north to downtown, you can catch some Metro lines there. But the planned expansion of the light rail line through Exposition Park would bring a stop right to the edge of West Adams.

Parks: Normandie Playground, Toberman Recreation Center, Hoover Recreation Center


Education: 13 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, 6 non-charter high schools, and 2 charter high schools, plus a couple institutions of higher learning: Mount St. Mary's College's Doheny Campus and Hebrew Union College

City Councilperson: Bernard C. Parks

County Supervisor: Gloria Molina

State Senate: Kevin Murray

State Assembly: Mike Davis

US Congress: Diane E. Watson

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Freeway access: The 10 passes right through the middle -- exit at Crenshaw, Arlington, Western, Normandie, Vermont or Hoover, and the 110 passes along its eastern edge.

Usually considered: South LA (formerly South Central)

People who front who live here say they live in: Depending how they're trying to front, either South Central, University Park (USC), or West Adams Heights

Historic West Adams
Most of the buildings in the neighborhood were erected between 1880 and 1925, which gives it both that "historic" and "old" feeling. The 1932 Summer Olympics Olymic Village was at the intersection of Hoover and Adams.

Interesting tidbit from Wikipedia: "Ray Charles' business headquarters, including his RPM studio, was located at 2107 Washington Boulevard, just outside the northern edge of the district. (The intersection of Washington and Westmoreland Avenue, near the studio, is named "Ray Charles Square" in his honor)."

Currently home to the best nighttime basketball in town. Watch the guy in red shorts.

Some of these guys said they come up from Compton to play here because it's safer. It may not be Rucker Park, but they ball all night long. Saturdays are supposed to be the best competition.


Formerly a wealthy district, it changed when the 10 and 110 freeways were built. "The construction of the Santa Monica and Harbor Freeways obliterated much of West Adams, their routes chosen in large part to demarcate areas acceptable for black settlement and those deemed whites-only (in both cases, this was notably unsuccessful, as many African-Americans moved into Mid-City and Arlington Heights during this period)," according to Wikipedia. Now (or technically at the time of the 2000 census) the population of the area is 48,925, about 58.1% Latino, 27.6% white, 20.0% black, 7.7% Asian or Pacific Islander, and 0.8% Native American. If that doesn't look to you like it adds up, that's because 5.4% of people who claimed two or more races.


Good restaurants: La Barca on Vermont Ave, Jean P.'s Soul Food Express on Adams and Figueroa, and the 29th Street Cafe (or "Two Nine" as USC Greek kids like to call it, following the Southern California tradition of refusing to use more than two syllables to designate any place. See the "OC" and "LA")


La Barca


Jean P.'s: it looks shady from the outside -- and from the inside too -- but the food is amazing. And so cheap!


The Two Nine gained a little fame when a dead baby was found in the dumpster out back. Charges in the baby's death were initially brought against USC student Holly Ashcraft, but were eventually dropped.

There are also numerous cheap Mexican eateries, including Chano's on Figueroa.


The original "Lucy's" is on Washington Blvd just west of Hoover

Architectural styles in West Adams: 15 (Queen Anne, Shingle, Gothic Revival, Transitional Arts and Crafts, Craftsman/Ultimate Bungalow, Craftsman Bungalow, Colonial Revival, Renaissance Revival, Mediterranean Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Mission Revival, Egyptian Revival, Beaux-Arts, Neoclassical, and the only Greene and Greene house in LA)


New urban art is more commonly being added these days.



99 cent stores: too many to count


Unofficial residents who live out of their shopping carts: also too many to count


Irritating billboards
that have been up for almost a year and reflect a really depressing view of marriage: 1


Places to visit the dead: Rosedale Cemetery between Venice and Washington boulevards on Normandie

The Post Office is located at 3585 S Vermont Ave.

The Shrine Auditorium, former host of the Oscars and still host to several awards shows, including the Latin Grammys and many others that cause traffic in the area to be a mess


Automobile Association of Southern California headquarters at the corner of Adams Boulevard and Figueroa Street


Golden State Mutual Life headquarters -- the nation's largest black-owned insurer -- on the northeast corner of Adams and Western Avenue


Mount St. Mary's College, Doheny Campus on Adams between Hoover and Figueroa


St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic church at the northwest corner of Adams and Figueroa


Church of Christian Science at the southeast corner of Adams and Hoover


University of Southern California, officially the end of my lovely 'hood


All photos by Jessica Roberts for LAist