Boyle Heights Long and Rich History

Mar 17, 2010 by Lisa Newton

Boyle Heights

Previously considered the area for “new” Los Angeles residents, Boyle Heights has a long and rich history.

The Los Angeles neighborhood is named after Andrew A. Boyle, an Irish immigrant who built his first home in the area that came to bear his name.

Back in the day, Boyle Heights, was an ethnic and cultural melting pot, comprised of a diverse group of people including Jewish Americans, Japanese Americans, Mexican Americans, as well as Russian and Yugoslav immigrants.

Throughout the past century, people moved to Boyle Heights in search of new opportunities. Some came after being driven out of their countries of origin by wars, persecution, and adverse economic circumstances. All of these people, old and new residents alike, impacted the neighborhood they shared as they created homes and communities supporting their diverse talents, interests, and needs. Source: Wikipedia

During the 1940s, most of the non-Latino population left for other parts of the city, including the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys, Mid-Wilshire, the Westside, never to look back. One of Los Angeles’s culinary familiar sights, Canter’s Deli, was originally located in Boyle Heights, before it followed its customer base and moved to Mid-Wilshire in the 1940s.

Unfortunately, the Japanese were interned, during World War II, and after the war they too did not return to Boyle Heights.

Currently, Boyle Heights’ population is over 97% Hispanic. In fact, Cesar E. Chavez Avenue, which is one of the main arterial streets in Boyle Heights, was called Brooklyn Avenue not too long ago.

Restored by Teresa Jaramillo And Wilfrido Oviedo

Just driving down Cesar Chavez Ave. east of the I-5, puts you into another world, time, and place. The stores and neighborhood have a look and feel that’s part small town USA, and part Mexico—its comprised of many “Mom and Pop stores”– also known as Tiendas– neighborhood mini-markets, and tamales and tortillas are just about everywhere you turn. In fact, Boyle Heights is the birthplace of the famous King Taco.

My next time here, I’ll definitely chronicle the stores, eateries, and restaurants, but a large part of the reason behind my visit to this culturally-rich neighborhood, was documenting their thriving and large amount of buildings that are on the list of Los Angeles’ Historic-Cultural Monuments on the East and Northeast Sides.

As Travelin’ Local is very much about finding out and learning about all of our different city’s neighborhoods and interesting things about them, Boyle Heights proved to be no exception.

And according to plan, I wasn’t disappointed.

Today’s my focus is on two buildings which have one major building material in common—the use of brick in both their construction and facades.

I’m originally an East Coast transplant, where they’re quite frequently use the brick colonial design of home architecture, so I often miss seeing brick buildings here, because there’s not an overabundance of them locally, and if there are, typically they’re used in a different style that I’m used to seeing.

Malabar Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library System

But the Malabar Branch, of the Los Angeles Public Library System, pictured above, was designed by architect William Lee Woollett, who also designed the inside of the Million Dollar Theatre., Built in 1927, the Malabar Branch actually “opened” in 1914, with a grand total of 900 books, as a book depository inside the Brooklyn Heights Methodist Church.

My second stop today was at 1030 Cesar E. Chavez Avenue. It may be the last Victorian/Queen Anne home made of brick remaining in Los Angeles.

Although this family home has seen its better days, you probably wouldn’t notice, or know that it’s part of the rich cultural and historical legacy of Los Angeles. When Travelin’ Local, we like to stop and smell the roses every day, to see what’s around us, to make sure we don’t overlook the special things that usually surround us, and which we usually take for granted in our daily hustle and bustle.

1030 Cesar E. Chavez Avenue

Every one of Los Angeles’ large quantity of unique neighborhoods has a unique character, history, tradition, landmark, and people with a story to tell; but when all is said and done—each one is a patchwork of a whole; and while we’re all proud of our own enclaves, this is what makes Los Angeles a fascinating amalgam of cultural and ethnic, hip and old, young and new, and rich and poor areas–all twisting and turning into a beautiful mosaic we call Los Angeles.

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Boyle Heights, Culture, East LA, SoCal

One Response to “Boyle Heights Long and Rich History”

  1. heather says:

    I liked your article. I was surprised you didn’t mention Evergreen Cemetery. That’s quite a huge historical monument.

    [Reply]

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