Boyle Heights: Wikis


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Hollenbeck Home for the Aged, 573 S Boyle Ave. Built in 1918, photo taken 1956.

Boyle Heights is a district east of Downtown Los Angeles on the East Side of Los Angeles, California, USA. The Heights are on the East side of the Los Angeles River. For much of the twentieth century, Boyle Heights was a gateway for new immigrants. This resulted in diverse demographics, including Jewish American, Japanese American and Mexican American populations, as well as Russian American and Yugoslav populations. Now the neighborhood is over 95% Mexican American according to the 2000 US Census.


Geography and transportation

Boyle Heights lies on the east bank of the Los Angeles River. It comprises the bluffs for which the district is named and the muddy flats ("The Flats") below them. The district's boundaries are roughly Mission Road on the north, the Los Angeles city limits on the east and south, and the river on the west. Downtown Los Angeles lies to the west, Lincoln Heights lies to the north, City Terrace and East Los Angeles are to the east, Commerce is to the southeast, and Vernon is to the south. Major thoroughfares include Whittier Boulevard; Cesar E. Chavez Avenue (known as Brooklyn Avenue prior to 1994); and State, Soto, Lorena, 1st, and 4th Streets.


"All Roads lead to Boyle Heights"

Boyle Heights was once called Paredon Blanco (White Bluffs) when California was part of Mexico.[1] Boyle Heights has long been a destination for newcomers to Los Angeles. Andrew A. Boyle, for whom the area is named, was an Irish immigrant who established his home in the area in 1858. His son-in-law, William H. Workman, served as mayor and city councilman and helped build the water lines, bridges, and public transportation that connected Boyle Heights across the river to the city center and made it a viable place to live. By the end of the 19th century, many well-to-do residents and civic leaders resided in Boyle Heights.

As Los Angeles expanded into an industrializing city, the population of Boyle Heights both grew and diversified. Many people moved east of the Los Angeles River due to downtown development, rising real estate values, and racially discriminatory housing restrictions in other parts of the city.

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.Mexican families started to move in around the 1930's

The massive East Los Angeles Interchange is located in Boyle Heights on the eastern bank of the Los Angeles River, allowing access to the Golden State (I-5), Hollywood (U.S. Route 101), Pomona (SR 60), San Bernardino (I-10), Santa Ana (I-5), and Santa Monica (I-10) freeways.

The Edward R. Roybal Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension

In 2004, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) began work on the "Edward R. Roybal Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension" of its Gold Line through Boyle Heights. MTA had planned to run the line at grade level along 1st Street, but community opposition concerned for the potential loss of affordable housing led it to instead route the line through the district as a subway before it emerges as a standard grade-level light rail line in East Los Angeles. (Ironically, this route was planned as part of the Red Line subway before 1998, when county voters passed a proposition banning use of existing sales tax revenues for subway construction.) The Eastside Extension opened on November 15, 2009.


Sketch of Boyle Heights in 1877, with Los Angeles in the background

Originally owned by the early L.A. Boyle-Workman family, the district was subdivided in 1875 and named after Andrew Boyle. Traditionally one of the most heterogeneous neighborhoods in the city, it was a center of Jewish, Mexican and Japanese immigrant life in the early 20th century, and also hosted large Yugoslav and Russian populations. Canter's Deli, one of Los Angeles' culinary landmarks and a beloved fixture in the city's Jewish community, was originally located in Boyle Heights before it followed its customer base to the Fairfax District in the 1940s. However, during and after World War II, most of its non-Latino population left for Mid-Wilshire, the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys, and the West Side. Boyle Heights' Japanese population was interned in relocation camps such as Manzanar during World War II and did not return after the war. This evolution is evidenced, among many other ways, by the name of the district's main drag: once Brooklyn Avenue, it was rechristened Cesar E. Chavez Avenue in 1994.

Breed Street Shul

Breed Street Shul, 2008

Opened in 1923, the Breed Street Shul, located at 247 North Breed Street, was one of the oldest synagogues on West Coast of the United States. Boyle Heights was a predominantly Jewish community for many years, but slowly the demographic changed to a large Latino community, and the synagogue steadily lost congregation members.

Breed Street Shul was finally abandoned in 1996, with the building becoming ramshackle. Shortly afterward, an effort was made to renovate the synagogue, and to preserve the site for posterity. In 1999, the nonprofit Breed Street Shul Project, Inc., a subsidiary of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California (JHS), officially undertook the restoration project. The project has been completed, and Breed Street Shul is now considered a national historic landmark.[citation needed]

The Flats

Unlike the middle- and lower-middle-class neighborhoods on the bluffs, "The Flats" was one of the most impoverished areas of the city, and by the 1930s was considered one of the last remaining slums in the United States. Those living in the "Heights" did not consider the flats part of Boyle Heights. The City of Los Angeles had separate neighborhood signs to mark the areas in the flats[2].

Reformer Jacob Riis had visited The Flats in the early 1910s and declared them worse than anything in New York; a survey[2] conducted by the city in the 1937 deemed 20% of the city's dwellings "unfit for human habitation," including most of The Flats. During World War II, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) razed The Flats and built housing projects in their place, resulting in Aliso Village and Pico Gardens. Like most of HACLA's 1940s projects, Aliso Village and Pico Gardens were hailed at the time of their construction as some of the finest examples of the principles espoused by the garden city movement, and were racially integrated to boot.

Soon after the end the war, Aliso Village and Pico Gardens lost most of their non-Latino populations, and were increasingly populated by Mexican immigrants. With the river on one side and a massive rail yard on another, the construction of the East Los Angeles Interchange further isolated them from the rest of the city, and the closure of the Pacific Electric Railway dramatically reduced the mobility of many of the projects' residents. By the 1970s, overcrowding had eliminated much of Aliso Village's once-vaunted green spaces, physical deteriortion had become rampant, and gangs were an increasing problem. In the 1980s the residents of Aliso Village and Pico Gardens began to organize with the support of Dolores Mission Church and its community Organization UNO and began to address these problems. By the late eighties the residents of the two housing projects had developed a network of community groups that pushed for better services and began negotiating truces between the different gangs, thus reducing the level of violence. In 1996, HACLA wrote off both projects, against the residents desires; Pico Gardens was razed and rebuilt eliminating half of the units in the development. Aliso Village was demolished and replaced with the New Urbanist, Pueblo del Sol "workforce housing" project. In the process two-thirds of the residents of the two housing projects were displaced.


As of the census of 2000, there are 86,734 people in the neighborhood. The racial identification of the neighborhood is 93.73% Latino, 2.44% Asian, 2.18% White (Nonhispanic), 1.65% Other races.

Government and infrastructure

Los Angeles Fire Department Station 2 (Boyle Heights) and Station 25 (South Boyle Heights) are in Boyle Heights.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services operates the Central Health Center in Downtown Los Angeles, serving Boyle Heights.[3]

The United States Postal Service Boyle Heights Post Office is located at 2016 East 1st Street.[4]



Los Angeles Unified School District operates Boyle Heights' public schools.

Middle School

High School

Private schools

  • Dolores Mission School[5]
  • Santa Isabel School
  • Santa Teresita Elementary School
  • Saint Mary's Elementary School
  • Our Lady of Talpa Elementary School
  • White Memorial Adventist School
  • Resurrection Elementary School
  • Assumption Parish School
  • Sacred Heart Elementary School
  • Our Lady Help of Christians Elementary School

Local Private/Catholic High School

College/Universities/Trade Schools


Demolished Landmarks

  • Soto-Michigan Jewish Community Center [6]
  • Aliso Village
  • Pico Gardens
  • No.54 Historic 6th Street Wooden Bridge - Hollenbeck Park, Los Angeles, demolished 1968
  • Benjamin Franklin Library
  • Brooklyn Theatre
  • Johnson's Market

Notable residents




Arts & Literature


See also


  1. ^ Sanchez, George J., "'What's Good for Boyle Heights is Good for the Jews': Creating Multiculturalism on the Eastside during the 1950s", American Quarterly 56.3 (2004) 663-661 [1]
  2. ^ observation of signs and interviews with former residents~~~~
  3. ^ "Central Health Center." Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. Retrieved on March 18, 2010.
  4. ^ "Post Office Location - BOYLE HEIGHTS." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on December 7, 2008.

External links

Coordinates: 34°02′02″N 118°12′16″W / 34.03389°N 118.20444°W / 34.03389; -118.20444


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