Lafayette Square, Los Angeles

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LaFayette Square
The LaFayette Square neighborhood sign at St. Charles Place, around 2015
The LaFayette Square neighborhood sign at St. Charles Place, around 2015
LaFayette Square is located in Los Angeles
LaFayette Square
LaFayette Square
Location within Central Los Angeles
Coordinates: 34°02′35″N 118°19′59″W / 34.043°N 118.333°W / 34.043; -118.333Coordinates: 34°02′35″N 118°19′59″W / 34.043°N 118.333°W / 34.043; -118.333
Country United States of America
State California
County Los Angeles
Time zonePacific
Zip Code
Area code(s)310/424, 323
Map from the Los Angeles Times,
January 1989

LaFayette Square is a historic semi-gated neighborhood in the central region of Los Angeles, California.

Although founded in 1913 by real estate developer George Lafayette Crenshaw, it is named after the French Marquis de Lafayette, who fought alongside Colonists in the American Revolution.[1] Lying west of Crenshaw Boulevard in the Mid-City area, it was designated by the city as a Los Angeles Historic Preservation Overlay Zone in 2000 for its significant residential architecture and history.[2]


Early sales[edit]

Properties in the tract, which was described as "part of the Nadeau Rancho vineyard," between "Washington and Sixteenth streets . . . immediately west of Crenshaw Boulevard" went on sale in 1913.[3]

According to the Los Angeles Conservancy, "LaFayette Square was the last and greatest of banker George L. Crenshaw's ten residential developments in the City of Los Angeles."[4] The tract is composed of four north-south streets with an east-west grassy divider.[5]

Unsold lots were liquidated in early 1920.[6]


A proposed level crossing at the Pacific Electric tracks (today's Venice Boulevard) would result in "the worse death trap in Los Angeles," a traffic engineer warned in 1915, because of the impaired view of the railway from West Boulevard on both sides. A viaduct was built instead, in 1920.

A petition to the city by Lafayette Square residents in September 1915 urged construction of a level crossing to bring West Boulevard across the Pacific Electric tracks. Without it, the petitioners said, ""children have to walk two miles to school" and stores refused to make deliveries because of the distance around the blockage. Instead, the city's Public Utilities Board approved plans for a more expensive viaduct over the tracks, saying a level crossing would be the worst "death-trap" in the city were it built.[7][8][9][10]

After visiting the site, the City Council approved a $40,000 viaduct for which Pacific Electric would pay half the cost and the city and land owners would pay the rest. Property owners agreed.[11][12] Construction on the viaduct took place in 1920. The link offered "a safe route of only four blocks to the million-dollar Los Angeles High School and . . . direct access to the West Hollywood and Beverly Hills district[s] by way of Pico and Wilshire Boulevards."[6]


Around 1980, the Lafayette Square Association proposed closing entrances to the neighborhood by blocking the ends of the streets to create cul-de-sacs. Neighbors debated issues of crime, traffic speed and emergency vehicle access. In 1989, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the plans.[13]

In the early 1990s, wrought-iron gates were installed at the ends of Buckingham Road, Virginia Road, Wellington Road and Victoria Avenue. The only way into the neighborhood by car is at St. Charles Place.[1] To pay for the enclosures, the homeowners were assessed $40 per year for 10 years.[13]


Los Angeles Express advertisement for Lafayette Square tract, January 1913[14]

LaFayette Square is situated about 7 miles (11 km) west of Downtown Los Angeles. It is south of Victoria Park, east of Arlington Heights and north of Wellington Square.

It consists of eight blocks, centered on St. Charles Place, and situated between Venice Boulevard on the north, Washington Boulevard on the south, Crenshaw Boulevard on the east and West Boulevard on the west. There are 236 homes in the neighborhood.[1]


Mediterranean Revival style home in Lafayette Square, 2012

Crenshaw wanted this development to have a European flair so it was designed as an elegant residential park centered on St. Charles Place—a broad palm tree-lined avenue with a landscaped median. The houses in Lafayette Square reflect residential styles popular during the 1910s and 1920s such as Tudor Revival architecture, Italianate, Mediterranean Revival, Neo-Federalist, American Craftsman, Spanish Colonial Revival, and American Colonial Revival. Several houses, such as architect Paul Williams’ own home, were designed in the Modern style, exemplifying an important trend in Los Angeles’ architectural development.[citation needed]

The neighborhood was designed for wealthy families and now-historic houses regularly have 5,000 to 6,000 square feet (600 m2) floor plans, although the average home size is 3,600 square feet (330 m2). According to a Los Angeles Times real-estate section article on the neighborhood, "Most of the properties have period details: Juliet balconies, mahogany staircases and libraries, sitting rooms, stained glass windows, triple crown molding, soaring ceilings—even four-car garages."[1]


The LaFayette Square neighborhood sign during Christmas

Home ownership shifted "between white-only homeownership during the 1920s through the 1940s to nearly all African American" in the 1950s with court decisions lifting restrictive covenants against black people. The community became more racially mixed "as more white families, priced out of the Westside and Hancock Park" began returning in the early 1990s. [1][5]


The neighborhood is zoned to the following schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District:

Notable residents[edit]

Paul R. Williams residence, 2012

In chronological order by birth year

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Cohen, Allison B. (9 February 2003). "History behind iron gates in Lafayette Square". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ "La Fayette Square Historic Preservation Overlay Zone". Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  3. ^ "Many Lots in Lafayette Square Reported Sold Though No Formal Even Marked Opening. Was Part of Nadeau Rancho Vineyard," Los Angeles Express, November 20, 1912, image 19
  4. ^ Los Angeles Conservancy, Los Angeles' Historic Preservation Overlay Zones, 2002, pp. 14-15.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Libman, Gary (13 January 1985). "Architect's Legacy Lives On in Lafayette Square". Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ a b "Lafayette Square Viaduct Under Way," Los Angeles Times, January 25, 1920
  7. ^ "Plan Viaduct for West Side," Los Angeles Times, September 15, 1915, image 22
  8. ^ "Change of Street Names Requested," Los Angeles Evening Express, April 26, 1926, image 5
  9. ^ "'Death-Trap' Is Still Favored," Los Angeles Times, September 24, 1915, image 20
  10. ^ "At Sherman Drive; Death Trap or Viaduct," Los Angeles Times, October 27, 1915, image 22
  11. ^ "Council Views Crossing Site," Los Angeles Times, September 19, 1915, image 26
  12. ^ "West Boulevard Grade Question Postponed," Los Angeles Express, September 29, 1915, image 15
  13. ^ a b Lynn Thompson, Ginger (7 January 1989). "Neighborhood Is All Revved Up Over Plan to Close Off Streets". Los Angeles Times.
  14. ^ [1] Los Angeles Express, January 11, 1913
  15. ^ a b c d e Los Angeles City Planning Department
  16. ^ Paul R. Williams Project
  17. ^ Leitereg, Neal (6 July 2019). "A Whole Lotta Sellin' Goin' On". Los Angeles Times.
  18. ^ Howard-Cooper, Scott (5 November 1996). "Walt Hazzard Has Important Ally". Los Angeles Times.

External links[edit]