Monday, December 04, 2006

Eastside, Westside, all around the town...

There has been an ongoing conversation about where the Westside and Eastside Boundaries are in LA. In the broader scope of things, places like Montebello, Arcadia, and Pasadena are considered Eastside, while Santa Monica, Hermosa, & even Torrance could be considered Westside. But for the sake of this conversation, we're defining it to Eastside/Westside in the City of LA (and those cities that influence the monikers).

So, today, MayorSam writes a post that refers to Mack Reed, a Silver Laker, as an Eastside white guy. Now, just focusing on the fact that MayorSam calls him an eastsider, is he correct?

In having this discussion, here are some points to consider:
1. No matter what boundaries are discussed, there is no real street line that divides the Westside from the Eastside (or any other larger area of the City) - the borders are slightly blurred, depending with whom you speak. (One exception could be argued in that the Valley is clearly the area north of Mulholland.)
2. It is commonly known that Downtown is neither Eastside nor Westside. Downtown can be descirbed as the area north of the 10, west of the LA River, South of the 5/Elysian Park area and east of Alvarado. (This western border may be a sticking point for some - is Echo Park part of Downtown?)
3. The Westside and the Eastside are not the same as "West LA" and "East LA," respectively; we're talking here about the sweeping generalizations of the Westside of Los Angeles and the Eastside of Los Angeles.
4. In an Eastside/Westside conversation, the Valley nor the Harbor area are included in that east/west thing. Also, in terms of the City, the area south of Downtown is known as South LA to about Harbor Gateway (hence the name), as well as the area that makes up Council District 8. So, that area is also not part of the Eastside/Westside topic. (True, there are many communities within this broader "South LA," but that is generally its boundary with only minor conversation of whether to use the 10 as the divider or Washington (see #1).
5. There is an area of Los Angeles known as Mid City that is not Downtown, Eastside, or Westside. It is west of Downtown and includes the places like Miracle Mile, The Grove, & Koreatown.
6. Hollywood is it's own larger moniker that also includes other communities like Los Feliz and Franklin Hills as well, though part of it meshes with Mid City as you move south on La Brea.

So, understanding all of that, here's what I would use to define the Westside and the Eastside of the City:
The Westside
The areas east of (& including) Beverly Hills & West Hollywood are NOT the Westside, and that south of there, La Cienega would be a general dividing line as to what would be Westside. So, the Westside would be the areas west of the Beverly Hills border and La Cienega, in general, to the ocean. No matter how you slice it, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms, Westchester, Westside Village, Rancho Park, Beverlywood, Cheviot Hills, West Los Angeles, Westwood, Century City, Bel-Aire, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Playa del Rey, SoRo, Venice, and Playa Vista are all "Westside" (basically all of CD11, a portion of CD5, and a small piece of CD10.

The Eastside
Again, for the eastside, Downtown & Chinatown are not inlcuded, so you're looking at the LA River east from about the 10 north. This includes Lincoln Heights, Boyle Heights, El Sereno, Montecito Heights, Highland Park, Monterey Hills, Glassel Park, Hermon, Mount Washington, Cypress Park, Eagle Rock, and Garvanza. These ar the areas that are partly in CD14 and partly in CD1.

There is the question as to whether Atwater Village is eastside or not - some might argue not or try to get lumped in with adjacent Silver Lake. Some might even argue it's in the Valley as Glendale - its northeastern neighbor - is. I say: even though it's east of the river, it's not really Eastside, the same way that Silver Lake, Solano Canyon, Elysian Park, Los Feliz, and Griffith Park are not. Heck, Griffith Park used to (and technically still does) extend east of the LA River before the 5 was built. That's all part of the same community of "NoDo" North of Downtown (be it slightly northeast or slightly northwest).

Here is a "just ok" map of the communities in LA - it's not as detailed as I'd appreciate, but it'll have to do. (See how the Atwater delimma occurs?)

Also, here are some facts that may be just confusing the whole Eastside/Westside issue...

The Eastside Market (great meatball sandwiches!) is in Chinatown, which is really known as either "Downtown" or "Chinatown," not the Eastside.

The Silver Lake Film Festival believes that Echo park, Silver Lake, & Downtown are part of LA's Eastside.

The Westside Economic Collaborative defines the Westside as including Hollywood, Korea Town[sic], and the Wilshire District - which is clearly not the Westside.

Westside Rentals lists apartment rentals all across the region, not just on the Westside. doesn't even mention any portion of LA City. (LA.Inc's competition, apparently.)

NOTE: Western Avenue and Eastern Avenue were once the west and east boundaries of the City - not any more...


Don said...

NoDo? Please stop. Let's avoid all those SoHo-derived abbreviations when talking about ANYWHERE in L.A. This isn't New York, and all that anyone accomplishes by trying to pretend that it is NY is to annoy me. And I'm not in the mood to be annoyed

Anonymous said...

The Eastside/Westside debate is much thornier than you've made it seem. It's fundamentally a question about race and comfort in physical space. I'd say there's informally a white Eastside that starts either in Hollywood or Los Feliz, and a Latino Eastside that starts at the L.A. River. Specifically, white people call the Los Feliz-Silver Lake-Echo Park area Eastside to give it a bohemian edge over the Westside and Hollywood/Miracle Mile. There's certainly a palpable difference in neighborhood feel in those neighborhoods, but the ongoing debate over whether it's properly "Eastside" signifies, I think, a racialized discomfort over use of the term to signify bohemian difference.

Put simpler: Indie white people call their neighborhoods "Eastside" so they can feel different from Westside Hollywood people even though their neighborhoods are no longer predominantly Latino (Echo Park is maybe a special case here).

Anonymous said...

I grew up and still live in mid-Wilshire and have always tended to think of the west side as west of La Cienega. But it's all very arbitrary and subjective.

Trying to cast this in racial terms strikes me as posturing. I think it's particularly objectionable the way the "Mayor Sam" folk and Joseph Mailander use "Eastside White Guy" and Westside White Guy" to put down Mack Reed and Kevin Roderick. They end up making themselves look small.

Anonymous said...

Technically, the city's dividing line is Main Street, and you'll still see gangs that have been around forever use the "WS" and "ES" tags depending on what side of Main they claim. (18th Street gang, with roots near Pico and Hoover, claims to be a "Westside" set). Even in "South Los Angeles" there is an Eastside and Westside among black and Latino sets. City Nerd, you're usually on-point, but I would have to disagree with your west-of-La Cienega definition and argue that all those communities west of downtown have a rightful claim to Westside-ness, even if the new-school, 310 elite protests.

-Dennis Romero

Anonymous said...

I like the comments by the 2 anons, those points start to address the many factors involved. I for one go by East of the river but Main St. seems good enough as well. Westlake (now MacArthur) and Eastlake (now Lincoln) also serve as reference points. The use of Eastside to refer to Silverlake etc seems to have started around 10-15 years ago when many that consider BH, SM, West LA, as a starting point began to move east. Having grown up in East LA, all of a sudden the word that defined our sense of place has been taken over mostly by those new to LA, the racial aspect doesn't make it any easier. In one semantic swoop, Mexican LA becomes another victim in the history of forgetting.

Miles said...

As a person born in Hollywood (old Cedars of Lebanon, now Scientology Center), who grew up some in the valley, some on the westside, some in Beverly Hills, who now lives in Atwater Village, I have to say I'm confused.

What doest the census say? How many people live east of Main Street and how many live West? Or if not Main, then Western? If not Western, then Highland.

Is it fair to say that the East Side and West Side "line" is shifting? Hasn't it always been shifting?

Is there even a reason to have this conversation? Doesn't it just divide? Aren't we all Angelenos?

I do know that I love Atwater because of the diversity. I used to think that you couldn't find such diversity in many other parts of the city, but even that is no longer true. Except for a few enclaves, we are multi-cultural neighborhood aftr multi-cultural neighborhood...and we mostly get along.

So, why don't we celebrate that? After all, L.A., together we're the the best!

Mayor Sam said...

We responded to this story on our blog so now we're doing a story about their story about our story which was a story about Mack's story about one of our stories.

Isn't blogging fun?

Anonymous said...

Er, ah... so mayorsam... what's the story?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... we have a Hollywood, a West Hollywood, a North Hollywood, and an East Hollywood (east of Vermont Ave.), but no South Hollywood.

Then we have a West Los Angeles, an East Los Angeles, a South Los Angeles, but no North Los Angeles. We used to have a Central Los Angeles, but it seems to have been renamed Central City.

The residents of Los Angeles tend to identify themselves by their communities; the residents outside of Los Angeles lump everyone in Los Angeles as "living Downtown."

I'm glad to contribute to the confusion by adding some more!

Anonymous said...

I first heard about Silverlake/Echo Park folks calling their neighborhood the "Eastside" in the Silverlake Press.
My folks grew up in LA, my dad in Boyle Heights and my mom in Echo Park. He was Eastside, she was Westside.
I know things change but it seems an insult to the history of Chicanos to start calling the newly bohemian neighborhoods "The Eastside" just 'cause some hipsters who've just moved to LA can't be bothered to learn a little local history.
The funny thing, no one in my family believes me when I tell them they are calling Echo Park the "Eastside." They just start laughing like it's the most ridiculous thing they've ever heard.

Anonymous said...

8:23 - It's an insult to L.A. itself to call Echo Park "eastside." If Echo Park is on the eastside, where in hell is City Hall located, according to these neo-bohemian directionally-challenged hipsters?

Having spent part of my teenage years living in the Echo Park area, I agree with your parents. The idea that Echo Park has suddenly shifted to the east side of L.A. is utterly ridiculous (unless one helluva earthquake that no one felt occurred to suddenly shift the neighborhood east). What next, the Fairfax District suddenly becomes part of the eastside?

Anonymous said...

It's always fascinating this topic of place and especially identity. I'll throw my pennies and believe some of this confusion is based on the confluence of a variety of factors that intersect. Los Angeles is unique as it is divided based on a variety of factors such as wealth, social and geopolitical sense. The first two could be called mental maps that converge with traditional physical barriers such as mountains, rivers, wide blvds or freeways. I believe this is why it is difficult to place Atwater village. It is separated physically by a mountain, river and a freeway, yet it's close in a social and wealth sense with its galleries, restaurants that trend toward a Silverlake vibe. These mental or better yet social maps change much more rapidly than physical ones, which confuses the heck out of old timers such as myself.


In Highland Park,
Big Mo

Anonymous said...

As a Valleyite, you're all southerners to me.

Anonymous said...

Hi, City Nerd! As the Director of the Westside Economic Collaborative (and an avid CN reader), I'd like to say thanks for the shout-out and the link. To give a little background about our "definition" of the Westside, especially as it applies to the City of LA: We're an affiliate of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) - although we're an independent organization - so we have historically taken its definition of our service area. Our "official" region includes everything west of Downtown (such as Koreatown and Mid-Wilshire) in part because none of the LAEDC's other regional affiliates covers that area. However, we actually work closely with businesses and organizations in many of those neighborhoods, including the Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce, the Hollywood Chamber, and the Hollywood WorkSource Center. Keep in mind also that, as a regional organization, we try to bring together stakeholders from five other "Westside" cities as well as L.A.: Beverly Hills, Culver City, Malibu, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood.

In the end, we at the Westside Economic Collaborative aren't really interested about what the traditional or even the offical definition of the Westside might be. We care much more about the economic, cultural, and physical connections between communities that are crucial to solving our shared problems of jobs, transportation, education, etc. That's not to say that people's sense of place isn't important. But, what people consider their region can shift quickly. Twenty years ago (as I understand it), Burbank and Glendale didn't think of themselves as part of the San Fernando Valley - no matter what their geographic location. Today, both cities are included in the U.S. Census' new Valley-specific report, and most residents and civic leaders understand that they are intimately connected with the communities and economy of the Valley.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Atwater Village is officially a part of the Northeast district. silverlake is not. you are incorrect to say that atwater is argueably not a part of the east side in the same way that silverlake is not.

even wiki knows.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty much with Dennis, El Chavo, and the first anon guy on this. But, inasmuch as another opinion of an LA native who grew up on the indisputable westside but has lived for the last ten years on the indisputable east side, I've kind of been using this as a rough model:

The 110 Fwy from San Pedro up until the LA River and then the 5/LA River north to say Glendale very roughly divides east from west, even though I know that puts downtown on the East side. Yeah, it's rough and sloppy, but feels okay to me.

More precisely, when I was a kid (70s-80s), "eastside" meant east of the river completely, not including downtown. That meant places like actual East LA, Monterey Park, Lincoln Heights, etc.

Also, the big ass island between the 110 and La Brea or La Cienega or Fairfax or whatever definitely isn't east, but also doesn't feel very west. Maybe it's something more like central, not really like either of its neighbors. Hey imagine that! "Midtown" and "Mid Wilshire" have been with us for a long time.

Also, it's kind of bothering me more and more that these dumb debates always seem to completely elide the couple million people who live south of the 10. What? They don't exist?

I definitely agree that there's an uncomfortable aspect of race and late arriviste classism in this whole deal.

Happy new year everyone.

Jimmy OT said...

First, off let me say that everyone has made great posts and I wish I would have seen this string sooner!

Second, I think like many aspects of life, this ""issue" (if it should be called that) is all about one's perspective. While I think it is a valid argument to say that it's important to recognize the whole of L.A. (not just the ever expanding white yipster neighborhoods), at the end of the day, it's all about your own personal mental maps and how the help you identify the city that YOU experience.

That being said, if someone is writing an article in the L.A. times or some other publication of note, I think they are obligated to be sensitive to the scope of the entire city (i.e. recognizing that there is such a place as East L.A. and that if one is using downtown as central reference point, then anything west of it would be considered mid-city and westside).

But I don't consider myself a racist, and I'm a native Angeleno that admits that I have referred to echo park and silverlake as the "eastiside" before. It's not because I don't "recognize" (now I sound like the United Nations) other parts of the city, but because of other factors. One would probably be that for most of my life (I'm 30) "downtown" (emphasis on the quotes") wasn't really a recognizable urban center compared to metropolotan equivalents like New York, Chicago, San Francisco etc. So using it as areference point didn't really make any sense, because with a couple of exceptions, we didn't have much reason to visit the area.

I went to East L.A. pretty regularly, as my best friends father was a professor at Cal State L.A. and we vivited the campus and surrounding area for the most authentic and delicious food I ever had the opportunity to enjoy.

OK, the short version is, use whatever terms help you get through the day and don't freak out too much if someone's "boundries" don't match up with yours. Boundries are a pretty ridiculous and contentious issue to begin with. At the very least, they just help keep your own head organized. And most times, I need all the help I can get in that department.