Leimert Park, Los Angeles
Leimert Park is a 1.19-square-mile residential neighborhood in the south region of Los Angeles, California, It is a master planned community built in the 1920s with Spanish Colonial Revival homes and tree-lined streets. It is also considered the center of both rich historical and contemporary African American art, music, and culture in Los Angeles.
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. Leimert Park is bounded by Exposition Boulevard on the north, South Van Ness Avenue and Arlington Avenue on the east, West Vernon Avenue on the south and Victoria Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard on the west.
||West Adams||Jefferson Park|
|View Park-Windsor Hills and Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw||Exposition Park and Vermont Square|
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Leimert Park is named for its developer, Walter H. Leimert, who began the subdivision project in 1928. He had the master plan designed by the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm, of the sons of New York's Central Park landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted. Leimert Park was one of the first comprehensively planned communities in Southern California designed for upper and middle-income families. It 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, movie theatre, and retail shopping. Leimert Park became a desirable community, and one of the first to have a Home Owners' Association (HOA).
The Mediterranean Revival Style Leimert Park Theater, now renamed the Vision Theatre, is located at the south end of Leimert Park Village at 3341 West Forty-Third Place and Degnan Ave. It was designed in 1931 by the architectural firm Morgan, Walls & Clements, and it is a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.
Initially white-dominated, Japanese Americans integrated Leimert Park after World War II. Crenshaw Square was inspired by Japanese architecture and Tak's Coffee still resides on Crenshaw Blvd. Japanese gardens as well as elderly Japanese American residents, still exist in Leimert today. With African Americans integrating Leimert Park in the 1950s, Leimert 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 since experienced a resurgence as middle-class black families from other parts of Los Angeles have moved into the bungalows and Spanish Colonial Revival style houses on its tree lined streets. Unlike other parts of Los Angeles, Leimert Park remains composed of almost entirely black residents, along with the Baldwin Hills, View Park-Windsor Hills, and Ladera Heights neighborhoods, as an African American middle-class cultural district in South Los Angeles.
Today, Leimert Park is considered the center of the contemporary African-American arts scene in Los Angeles. One resident, filmmaker John Singleton, has called it "the black Greenwich Village." It has flourishing blues and jazz clubs, venues for hip hop, and theaters for numerous dramatic performances and poetry readings. Project Blowed is the longest running hip hop open mic in the world, started in 1994 by Aceyalone and friends. It is hosted by Kaos Network, and held every Thursday night at 43rd Place and Leimert Boulevard.
Leimert Plaza Park is at the district's center, adjoined by retail shops and the Vision Theatre, and is a popular place for performances and gatherings. It has a landmark cascading fountain, and a drum circle that convenes every Sunday.
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 Ave and is owned by America's Next Top Model's (Aswirl Twins) Richard and Ron Harris. The coffee house was named after their mother Lucy Florence on her 75th birthday, when it 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.
The Leimert Park station, on the Los Angeles Metro light rail Crenshaw/LAX Line is currently under construction, and will be located near the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and Vernon Avenue. Nearby Leimert Plaza Park is planned to be part of a walkable corridor. A section of 43rd Place may be permanently closed to car traffic and converted to a public plaza. Some businesses may be required to have a front entrance for people strolling down the street. The Crenshaw/LAX Line is another section of the public rapid transport network that is beginning to span Los Angeles County again. The line will be 8.5 miles long, running from the Expo Line, through South Los Angeles and Inglewood, near LAX, to connect to the Green Line.
Real estate and redevelopment
In 2013 and 2014, resurgent home prices in Los Angeles spurred interest among young professionals to move into the area, reigniting mixed fears of gentrification and hope for increased business investment.
In December 2014, Capri Capital Partners, the Chicago-based owner of the Leimert Park adjacent Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, announced redevelopment plans to add over 2 million square feet of new office space building, housing, condos, retail space and hotel rooms. The plans include a pedestrian-oriented retail village that would be constructed at the southeast corner of the property, abutting the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and Stocker Street. Proposed development uses within the village include including stores, restaurants and entertainment venues.
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.
Within the neighborhood, African Americans made up 79.6% of the population, with Latinos at 11.4%, Asian 4.9%, White 1.5% 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.
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.
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.
- These are the ten neighborhoods in Los Angeles County with the largest percentage of black residents:
- View Park-Windsor Hills, California, 86.5%
- Gramercy Park, Los Angeles, 86.4%
- Leimert Park, Los Angeles, 79.6%
- Manchester Square, Los Angeles, 78.6%
- Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw, Los Angeles, 71.3%
- Ladera Heights, California, 71%
- Hyde Park, Los Angeles, 66%
- Chesterfield Square, Los Angeles, 58.6%
- West Compton, California, 57.6%
- Westmont, California, 57.5%
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.
- C.A.T.C.H High School, charter high school, 4120 11th Avenue
- Audubon Middle School, LAUSD, 4120 11th Avenue
- Tom Bradley Global Awareness 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
Libertas College Prep (on the Tom Bradley campus)
Recreation and parks
- Pocket Park at Degnan Boulevard and Norton Avenue, unnamed
- Leimert Plaza Park, 4395 Leimert Boulevard, unstaffed, with picnic tables, benches, decorative water fountain, Metro Crenshaw/LAX Line .
- People St Plaza, between the Leimert Plaza Park and the Vision Theater on 43rd Place.
- Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley
- Singer Ray Charles
- Singer Ella Fitzgerald
- Mark Bradford, artist known for grid-like abstract paintings combining collage with paints, incorporates found objects from around his home in Leimert Park.
- Carl C. Rasmussen (1901–1952), Los Angeles City Council member
- Dom Kennedy, rapper
- Jennings, Angel (February 10, 2014) "Station identification" Los Angeles Times
-  "South L.A.," Mapping L.A., Los Angeles Times
- The Thomas Guide, 2006, page 633
-  "Leimert Park," Mapping L.A., Los Angeles Times
- Khouri, Andrew (April 30, 2014) "Soaring home prices spur a resurgence near USC " Los Angeles Times
- Lee, Gary (March 19, 2006) "Los Angeles Black Pride: Taking in the Retro Vibe of Leimert Park" Washington Post
- Reyes, Emily Alpert and Jennings, Angel (December 8, 2014) "Military retailer is Leimert Park's unwelcome neighbor" Los Angeles Times
- "Black", Mapping L.A. at Los Angeles Times
-  "Leimert Park Schools," Mapping L.A., Los Angeles Times
-  Los Angeles City Department of Recreation and Parks
- Valerie J. Nelson, "Wife of L.A Mayor Tom Bradley," Los Angeles Times, November 26, 2008
- Gayle Pollard-Terry, "Activism, Music Intersect in Leimert Park," Los Angeles Times, December 25, 2005
- 9/24/07 New York Magazine
- Los Angeles Public Library Reference File
- Location of his house on Mapping L.A.
- Brooklyne Gipson, "Interview: Dom Kennedy Talks New Mixtape & Wanting 2Pac to Slap Funkmaster Flex," ComplexMusic, March 11, 2011
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Leimert Park, Los Angeles.|
-  Leimert Park crime map and statistics
- Leimert Park Beat: "The Soul of Los Angeles" is an online community focused on Leimert Park and the surrounding area of South Los Angeles
- Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative site for Leimert Park project area
- Curbed LA: West Adams on the Low Down (23 July 2007)
- LA City Beat: Go to the Park, Leimert Village is a cultural mecca for everyone (19 May 2005)
- LAist: Photo Essay: Rally Against Injustice (Jena 6 - 21 Sept 2007)
- Historic American Buildings Survey, 1972. Leimert Theater