West Adams, Los Angeles, California: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

West Adams, also known as Historic West Adams, is a large district located in the center of Los Angeles, California, southwest of Downtown and west of USC. It is named after Adams Boulevard, the major east-west surface thoroughfare in the district.



West Adams is located in the center of Los Angeles, in an area stretching roughly from Figueroa Street on the east to West Boulevard on the west, and from Pico Boulevard on the north to Jefferson Boulevard on the south. From the Santa Monica freeway, exit at Crenshaw Blvd, Arlington Ave, Western Ave, Normandie Ave, Vermont Ave or Hoover St.[1]

The district includes many smaller neighborhoods: Adams-Normandie, Pico-Union, Angelus Vista, and Harvard Heights on the north, Victoria Park and Lafayette Square on the west, and Jefferson Park on the south. Its principal thoroughfares are Adams, Jefferson and Washington Boulevards, Western, Vermont and Normandie Avenues, and Hoover and Figueroa Streets. ZIP codes for the district are 90007, 90018 and 90019.

Major subdistricts include North University Park and Kinney Heights and the eastern portion of Mid-City.


Fitzgerald House

West Adams is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, with most of its buildings erected between 1880 and 1925, including the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. West Adams was developed by railroad magnate Henry E Huntington and wealthy industrialist Hulett C Merritt of Pasadena. It was once the wealthiest district in the city, with its Victorian mansions and sturdy Craftsman bungalows home to Downtown businessmen and professors and academicians at USC. In the 1990s, three areas of West Adams were designated as Historic Preservation Overlay Zones by the city of Los Angeles, in recognition of their outstanding architectural heritage.

The development of the West Side, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood, beginning in the 1910's, siphoned away much of West Adams' upper-class white population; upper-class blacks began to move in around this time, although the district was off-limits to all but the very wealthiest African-Americans. One symbol of the area's emergence as a center of black wealth at this time is the 1948 headquarters of Golden State Mutual Life, a late-period Art Deco structure at Adams and Western that housed what is still the nation's largest black-owned insurer. West Adams' transformation into an affluent black area was sped by the Supreme Court's 1948 invalidation of segregationist covenants on property ownership. The area was a favorite among black celebrities in the 1940s and 1950s; notable residents included Hattie McDaniel, Joe Louis, Little Richard and Ray Charles.

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.)

In the 1950s, 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.)

The 1992 Los Angeles riots largely spared West Adams' historic buildings. Mirroring changes seen throughout Los Angeles, the district's Latino population have been growing. The area's architecture and proximity to USC have brought many upper-middle-class whites as well[1]. Many of the neighborhoods are experiencing a renaissance of sorts with their historic homes being restored to their previous elegance.

In total more than 70 sites in West Adams have received recognition as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, a California Historical Landmark, or by listing on the National Register of Historic Places. A complete list of these sites is found at List of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments in South Los Angeles.

Recent developments

Britt House, now home of the LA84 Foundation

West Adams' designation by the city as a historic district in the late 1990s increased property values, while the Southern California real estate boom of the early 2000s has brought new prosperity to the district. The successful reforms of Los Angeles Police Department chief William J. Bratton and neighborhood involvement in Police Advisory Boards (PABs) significantly reduced crime in the area.

The projected 2011 opening of a long-delayed light-rail line from Downtown Los Angeles to Culver City and Santa Monica — which will pass by USC on Exposition Boulevard and have stops in the district at Figueroa Street, Vermont Avenue, and Western Avenue — may bring even greater importance to West Adams. The Trousdale Walk station will specifically serve both USC and Exposition Park.[2]

Many active residents of West Adams have joined together in block associations to lobby the city for services and to band together to beautify their communities and restore the elegance of their historic homes.


Pocket park in North University Park along Hoover Blvd.

West Adams is a large area, covering 11 distinct United States Census tracts.[citation needed]There is also a significant large population of Central American and Caribbean Immigrants, mostly emigrating from Belize. As of the 2000 census, its population was 48,925. Racial breakdown was as follows: 27.6% white, 20.0% black or African-American, 7.7% Asian or Pacific Islander, 0.8% Native American. There were 38.5% of some other race and 5.4% two or more races. 58.1% of persons of any race were of Hispanic/Latino ethnicity, however Latinos at the University of Southern California represents only 13% of the student population.

Fire service

Los Angeles Fire Department's Station 26 serves the district [3]


West Adams Preparatory High School

Public schools

West Adams is zoned to the Los Angeles Unified School District.

As of 2007, according to the Van Buren Place Community Restoration Association, 13 elementary schools, 4 middle schools, 6 non-charter high schools, and 2 charter high schools are located in the boundary of West Adams.[4] Some notable schools include Adams Middle School and West Adams Preparatory High School[5].

Post-secondary education

Colleges and universities within the district include Mount St. Mary's College's Doheny Campus and Hebrew Union College.

Historic architecture

West Adams is home to one of the largest collections of historic homes west of the Mississippi River. The West Adams area was developed between 1880 and 1925, and contains many diverse architectural styles of the era. Architectural styles seen in West Adams include the Queen Anne, Shingle, Gothic Revival, Transitional Arts and Crafts, American Craftsman/Ultimate Bungalow, Craftsman Bungalow, Colonial Revival, Renaissance Revival, Mediterranean Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Mission Revival, Egyptian Revival, Beaux-Arts and Neoclassical styles. West Adams boasts the only Greene and Greene house in Los Angeles. Its historic homes are frequently used as locations for movies and TV shows including CSI, Six Feet Under, The Shield, Monk, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Of Mice and Men.


Forthmann House
Wm. Andrews Clark Memorial Library
Doheny Mansion
St. Vincent de Paul Church
Art of Living Foundation Los Angeles center

Famous residents

See also


External links

  • Leimert Park Beat is a collaborative online community focused on adjacent Leimert Park: The Soul of Los Angeles and the African American cultural center of the city.


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