Wilshire Park, Los Angeles
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Attempts to rename Wilshire Park as part of "Koreatown" were rebuffed in August, 2010, with passage of Los Angeles City Council File 09-0606, officially establishing the western boundary of Koreatown as Western Avenue, nearly 1/2 mile from the eastern boundary of Wilshire Park. Wilshire Park is identified in The Thomas Guide, page 633:G:3.[verification needed]
Windsor Square and Hancock Park are to the north, Country Club Park is to the south, Country Club Heights is to the east, Windsor Village and Miracle Mile District are to the west. Major thoroughfares include Olympic Boulevard and Crenshaw Boulevard. Most of Wilshire Park is in ZIP code 90005 but also includes a small area of 90019.
Description and landmarks
Wilshire Park is a neighborhood of one- and two-story historic Dutch Colonial, Spanish Colonial, American Craftsman, Victorian-Craftsman Transitional, Colonial Revival, Traditional, California Bungalow, and Mediterranean style single-family homes and duplexes on tree-lined streets of mature magnolias, oaks, and sycamores.
The first recorded residence in Wilshire Park was built in 1908; this transitional Victorian-Craftsman is an example of the work of noted architect Frank M. Tyler. The neighborhood also features at least twelve other Tyler-designed residences. As of 2007, the City of Los Angeles had designated three Wilshire Park homes as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments, including the William J. Weber House, built in 1921, designed by Lloyd Wright and honored as a Historic–Cultural Monument in 2002, the A.W. Black Residence, built in 1913 and designed by John Frederick Soper (honored in 2005), and the William J. Hubbard Residence, built in 1923 and designed by Allen Kelly Ruoff and Arthur C. Munson (honored in 2006).
A few of the notable earlier residents of Wilshire Park include popular star of the silent movie era Mildred Harris (who became notorious as the 16-year-old child bride of Charles Chaplin), headline-making Ziegfeld Follies beauty and screen actress Helen Lee Worthing, who appeared with John Barrymore in the 1926 film Don Juan, motion picture star Tom Mix, an executive secretary to 29th U.S. President Warren G. Harding, a CEO of finance for the City of Los Angeles, the director of the Los Angeles County Hospital, the Ziegfeld Follies performer and RKO Studios dance director/choreographer Pearl Eaton, and motion picture director and Academy Awards co-founder Henry King. Other former residents include Janet Fitch, author of the novels White Oleander and Paint It Black, Oscar-winning motion picture sound expert Arthur Piantadosi, and Jules Dassin. Another former resident is London, England-born art director, Grammy-winning album cover designer, graphic artist, and documentary film producer-director Kosh, born Arthur Kosh, who created the famed covers for Abbey Road and Who's Next, and recorded such artists as Linda Ronstadt, The Eagles, Rod Stewart, and Spinal Tap.
Contemporary residents of note include record-breaking long distance swimmer and National Public Radio sports commentator Diana Nyad, Earth, Wind & Fire bass player Verdine White, screenwriter/author Stephen Rebello, and Jennifer Nairn Smith, a former featured ballerina and dancer on stage, Broadway, and in films under the direction of such choreographers as George Balanchine, Michael Bennett, and Bob Fosse.
The area has served as a film and television production location, dating back to the days of the 1925 Buster Keaton comedy classic Seven Chances. With the 1960s, one Wilshire Park home (at 837 5th Avenue) attained TV immortality by serving as the exterior for the Douglas family home on the long-running series, My Three Sons. Since then, Wilshire Park has served as a location for TV shows, music videos, and films, including Cold Case, a PBS documentary on Emma Goldman, and the 2009 feature film Crossing Over..
Other area landmarks include historic Los Angeles High School, alma mater of composer John Cage, author Ray Bradbury, actor Dustin Hoffman, writer/poet Charles Bukowski, singer Mel Tormé, Oscar-winning screenwriter Budd Schulberg, attorney Johnnie Cochran, and Charles Francis Richter, who invented the Richter Scale. Wilshire Park Elementary School opened in 2006.
Wilshire Park has its own website WilshirePark.org, newsletter, and active neighborhood association, Wilshire Park Association. The Association consists of owners and renters who work closely with the police and other city organizations in such efforts as traffic abatement, crime prevention, and tree planting. In recent years, the area has enjoyed highly accelerated increase in property values, fueled not only by Los Angeles' real estate boom but also by buyers attracted to the area's charming old–fashioned ambiance and by the historic nature of the homes. Historic preservation and restoration of the urban tree canopy are among the many concerns of the neighborhood residents. By the spring of 2007, working with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's "Million Trees for Los Angeles" initiative, Wilshire Park had reached the one-third mark in its goal to plant 200 new trees on its public parkways.
Wilshire Park is racially diverse, including Caucasian, Hispanic, African-American and Korean residents. The neighborhood is part of Council District 10 under Councilman Herbert J. Wesson and is a member of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.
Progress and historic preservation
2006 saw the welcome addition of the new Wilshire Park Elementary School.
On November 5, 2008, Wilshire Park became, by a unanimous vote of the Los Angeles City Council, a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ). Since 2002, residents had begun advocating the creation of a Wilshire Park historic district in order to prevent teardowns and to encourage residents to only make exterior changes to their homes consistent with the historical period and architectural style of those homes. Since December 2006, Wilshire Park had been under an Interim Control Ordinance and, in 2008, that ICO was renewed.
Wilshire Park became the first neighborhood in Los Angeles history in which residents conducted and completed their own survey and analysis of each home and parcel, overseen by a professional architectural consulting group. This Survey of Historic Resources was completely self-funded, utilizing no funds from the city.
The HPOZ was accomplished after years of door-to-door conversations about preservation, the circulation of a pro-HPOZ petition signed by the majority of residents, many outreach meetings involving panel discussions, frequent discussions of preservation in the neighborhood newsletter, dozens of mailings to residents, as well as a 2007 Home and Garden tour fund-raiser sponsored by affiliate neighborhood West Adams. In August, 2008, Wilshire Park Association hosted, at the National Register of Historic Places Art Deco landmark Wiltern Theater, a public meeting for all residents regarding the neighborhood's proposed designation as a Historic District known as a Los Angeles Historic Preservation Overlay Zone. City officials of the Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources held a forum as part of the event attended by over 120 residents.
In 2010, in cooperation with the Office of Historic Resources and the City Planning Department, Wilshire Park joined forces with the two newly adopted members of what has affectionately come to be known as the "Triplets", Country Club Park and Windsor Square. In an effort to streamline the HPOZ process and to make the HPOZ program financially viable, the "Triplets" agreed to share an HPOZ Board and Preservation Plan, while retaining their own HPOZ ordinances, periods of significance, context statements and identity.
Neighborhood advocacy is not a new phenomenon in Wilshire Park. In the 1980s, Wilshire Park Association worked in active cooperation with surrounding neighborhoods in major urban planning issues. First, the Association was instrumental in preventing the construction of the Red Line subway on Wilshire Boulevard. Many residents of the area support the possibility of the Red Line's extension as traffic congestion takes its toll on the city's quality of life, but not at the expense of the engineering and safety issues that were of great concern. Also, such an extension would have displaced many families and destroyed fine homes that have stood since the early 20th century. Also, in partnership with Hancock Park, Wilshire Park Association successfully lobbied the city's planners to impose height limits and mandatory free parking on commercial buildings being constructed on the "Park Mile", a stretch of Wilshire (between Highland and Wilton) that had been one of the last undeveloped parcels in Mid-Wilshire.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wilshire Park, Los Angeles.|
- Preservation Lacity
- Park Mile Specific Plan
- Larchmont Chronicle Article on Wilshire Park Elementary
- Wilshire Park Association 2006 Calendar
- Tree-Planting Event
- Weber House
- LA Weekly article on the 1980s Red Line controversy