Leimert Park, Los Angeles

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Leimert Park is a 1.19-square-mile affluent neighborhood in Los Angeles, California, within the South Los Angeles area. An area with a relatively aging population, it includes the Crenshaw Square shopping center and has six schools.[1][2] It is considered the center of African American culture in Los Angeles.[3]

Houses along Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in eastern Leimert Park

Geography[edit]

Leimert Park boundaries as drawn by the Los Angeles Times

Jefferson Park flanks Leimert Park to the north, the Exposition Park neighborhood and Vermont Square to the east, Hyde Park to the south and View Park-Windsor Hills and Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw to the west. Leimert Park angles to the West Adams district on the northwest.[4] Leimert Park is bounded by Exposition Boulevard on the north, South Van Ness and Arlington avenues on the east, West Vernon Avenue on the south and Victoria Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard on the west.[2][5]

Adjacent neighborhoods[edit]

Relation of Leimert Park to other communities:[2][4]

History[edit]

Developed by Walter H. Leimert (for whom it is named) beginning in 1928 and designed by the Olmsted brothers (sons of New York Central Park designer Frederick Law Olmsted), Leimert Park was one of the first comprehensively planned communities in Southern California designed for upper and middle-income families, and was considered a model of urban planning for its time: automobile traffic near schools and churches was minimized, utility wires were buried or hidden from view in alleys, and densely planted trees lined its streets. Walter Leimert envisioned a self-sufficient community, with a town square, theatre and retail shopping. Leimert Park became a desirable community and one of the first to have a Home Owners' Association.

Today, Leimert Park is considered the center of the African-American arts scene in Los Angeles, with flourishing blues and jazz clubs, as well as venues for hip hop and numerous dramatic performances and poetry readings. One resident, filmmaker John Singleton, has called it "the black Greenwich Village." The park at the district's center, adjoined by shops and a theater, is a popular place for performances and gatherings.[6]

The intersection of 43rd and Degnan at the south end of Leimert Park Village is home to the steeple of the Vision Theatre. Vision Theatre was built in 1931 as the Leimert Park Thaetre and was designed by Designed by architects Morgan, Walls & Clemens. Leimert Park with its landmark cascading water fountain and a drum circle that convenes every Sunday.

Project Blowed, hosted by Kaos Network, is the longest running hip hop open mic in the world; started in 1994 by Aceyalone and friends, it is held every Thursday night at 43rd Place and Leimert Blvd.

Leimert Park neighborhood sign

The Lucy Florence Coffee House and Cultural Center came to Leimert Park in 2000, hosting an array of talent, art, and music. Lucy Florence is located at 3351 West 43rd Street @ Degnan and is owned by America's Next Top Model's (Aswirl Twins) Richard and Ron Harris. Lucy Florence was named after their mother on her 75th birthday, when Lucy Florence was located in Hollywood.

Another jazz venue, 5th Street Dick's Coffee and Jazz Emporium, founded by Richard Fulton in 1991, continued to be a mainstay for music lovers, chess players, and poets and comedians.

Tavis Smiley, host of a national public radio and TV show, has his studios in Leimert Park.

In January 1947, the body of Elizabeth Short, the victim of the Black Dahlia killing, was found in the Leimert Park area in a vacant lot on the 3800 block of South Norton Avenue.

Initially white-dominated, Leimert Park and the neighboring Crenshaw District eventually became one of the largest black middle class neighborhoods in the United States.

Despite suffering from rising crime beginning in the 1970s and sustaining damage during the 1992 Los Angeles riots and the 1994 Northridge earthquake, Leimert Park has experienced a resurgence in recent years[when?] as middle-class black families from other parts of Los Angeles have settled down in the Spanish Colonial style homes and bungalows that line its leafy streets. Unlike other parts of Los Angeles, Leimert Park remains almost entirely black, with a minuscule Latino and White population, due in part because, along with Baldwin Hills, View Park-Windsor Hills, and Ladera Heights, Leimert Park is a African American middle-class neighborhood maintaining itself in South Los Angeles.[7]

Leimert Park has received a stop on the Crenshaw rail line, a crucial link in a planned rail network that will span Los Angeles County. The Crenshaw line would cover 8.5 miles through South Los Angeles.[3]

Population[edit]

A total of 11,782 people lived in Leimert Park's 1.19 square miles, according to the 2000 U.S. census—averaging 9,880 people per square mile, about the same as the population density in the city as a whole. The median age was 38, considered old as opposed to the rest of the city. The percentage of residents aged 65 and above was among the county's highest.[5]

Within the neighborhood, African Americans made up 79,6% of the population, with Latinos at 11.4%, Asian 4.6%, White 1.2% and other 3.2%. El Salvador and Mexico were the most common places of birth for the 10.7%% of the residents who were born abroad, considered a low percentage of foreign-born when compared with the city or county as a whole.[5]

The median household income in 2008 dollars was $45,865, considered average for the city but low for the county. The percentage of households earning $20,000 or less was high, compared to the county at large. The average household size of 2.2 people was low for both the city and the county. Renters occupied 54.1% of the housing units, and homeowners occupied the rest.[5]

In 2000 there were 23 families headed by single parents, or 8.7%, a rate that was low for the county and the city. There were 990 veterans, or 11.1% of the population, considered high when compared with the city overall. The percentage of veterans who served in the Vietnam War was among the county's highest.[5]

  • These are the ten neighborhoods in Los Angeles County with the largest percentage of black residents:[8]
  1. View Park-Windsor Hills, California, 86.5%
  2. Gramercy Park, Los Angeles, 86.4%
  3. Leimert Park, Los Angeles, 79.6%
  4. Manchester Square, Los Angeles, 78.6%
  5. Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw, Los Angeles, 71.3%
  6. Ladera Heights, California, 71%
  7. Hyde Park, Los Angeles, 66%
  8. Chesterfield Square, Los Angeles, 58.6%
  9. West Compton, California, 57.6%
  10. Westmont, California, 57.5%


Education[edit]

Leimert Park residents aged 25 and older holding a four-year degree amounted to 55.9% of the population in 2000, about average within the city and the county; the percentage of residents aged 25 and older with some college education was high for the county.[5]

Schools within the Leimert Park boundaries are:[2][9]

  • Audubon Middle School, LAUSD, 4120 11th Avenue
  • Tom Bradley Environmental Science and Humanities Magnet, LAUSD alternative, 3875 Dublin Avenue
  • Transfiguration, private elementary, 4020 Roxton Avenue
  • Creative Learning Center, private elementary, 1726 West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
  • New Heights Charter, LAUSD elementary, 2202 West Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
  • Forty-Second Street Elementary, LAUSD, 4231 Fourth Avenue

Recreation and parks[edit]

Notable residents[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°00′28″N 118°19′38″W / 34.00778°N 118.32722°W / 34.00778; -118.32722