West Adams, Los Angeles
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West Adams, also known as Historic West Adams, is a large district located in Los Angeles, California, southwest of Downtown and west of USC. It is named after Adams Boulevard, the major east-west surface thoroughfare in the district.
According to the "Mapping L.A." project of the Los Angeles Times, West Adams is flanked by Mid-City to the north—across the Santa Monica Freeway—Jefferson Park to the east, Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw to the south and Palms to the west. The neighborhood's street boundaries are the Santa Monica Freeway on the north, Crenshaw Boulevard on the east, Exposition and Jefferson boulevards on the south and the Culver City line on the west (Ballona Creek and Fairfax Avenue).
The West Adams Heritage Association states that West Adams stretches "roughly from Figueroa Street on the east to West Boulevard on the west, and from Pico Boulevard on the north to Jefferson Boulevard on the south."
West Adams is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, with most of its buildings erected between 1880 and 1925, including the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. West Adams was developed by railroad magnate Henry E. Huntington and wealthy industrialist Hulett C. Merritt of Pasadena. It was once the wealthiest district in the city, with its Victorian mansions and sturdy Craftsman bungalows home to Downtown businessmen and professors and academicians at USC. Several areas of West Adams, namely, Harvard Heights, Lafayette Square, Pico-Union, and West Adams Terrace, were designated as Historic Preservation Overlay Zones by the city of Los Angeles, in recognition of their outstanding architectural heritage. Menlo Avenue-West Twenty-ninth Street Historic District, North University Park Historic District, Twentieth Street Historic District, Van Buren Place Historic District and St. James Park Historic District, all with houses of architectural significance, are located in West Adams.
The development of the West Side, Beverly Hills and Hollywood, beginning in the 1910s, siphoned away much of West Adams' upper-class white population; upper-class blacks began to move in around this time, although the district was off limits to all but the very wealthiest African-Americans. One symbol of the area's emergence as a center of black wealth at this time is the 1949 headquarters of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, a late-period Moderne structure at Adams and Western designed by renowned black architect Paul Williams. It housed what was once one of the nation's largest black-owned insurers (currently, along with an adjacent new building, it is now a campus for a large non-profit). West Adams' transformation into an affluent black area was sped by the Supreme Court's 1948 invalidation of segregationist covenants on property ownership. The area was a favorite among black celebrities in the 1940s and 1950s; notable residents included Hattie McDaniel, Joe Louis, Sweet Daddy Grace, Little Richard, and Ray Charles.
Ray Charles's business headquarters, including his RPM studio, is located at 2107 Washington Boulevard. The intersection of Washington Boulevard and Westmoreland Boulevard, at the studio, is named "Ray Charles Square" in his honor.
In the 1950s, the construction of the Harbor Freeway destroyed many large homes on the east side of West Adams, while the 1960s construction of the Santa Monica Freeway completely obliterated Berkeley Square, which held significant houses designed by Elmer Grey, and bisected West Adams Heights. Both subdivisions lost many large, beautiful homes.
The 1992 Los Angeles riots largely spared West Adams's historic buildings. Mirroring changes seen throughout Los Angeles, the district's Latino population has been growing. The area's architecture and proximity to USC have brought some upper-middle-class whites as well. Many African-American gays have moved into the neighborhood, and it has become the center of black gay life in Los Angeles, even earning the nickname of "the black West Hollywood" or "the black Silver Lake" Many of the neighborhoods are experiencing a renaissance of sorts with their historic homes being restored to their previous elegance.
In total, more than 70 sites in West Adams have received recognition as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, a California Historical Landmark, or listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
A total of 21,764 people lived in West Adams's 1.48 square miles, according to the 2000 U.S. census—averaging 14,686 people per square mile, among the highest population densities in the city as a whole. Population was estimated at 22,857 in 2008. The median age was 28, considered young when compared to the city as a whole. The percentages of residents aged birth to 18 were among the county's highest.
Latinos made up 56.2% of the population, with black people at 37.6%, white 2.4%, Asian 1.7%, and other 2%. Mexico and El Salvador were the most common places of birth for the 36.9% of the residents who were born abroad, an average percentage of foreign-born when compared with the city or county as a whole.
The $38,209 median household income in 2008 dollars was considered low for the city and county. The percentage of households earning $20,000 or less was high, compared to the county at large. The average household size of 3.1 people was about average for the city. Renters occupied 62.8% of the housing units, and homeowners occupied the rest.
In 2000, there were 1,078 families headed by single parents, or 21.8%, a rate that was high for the county and the city. The percentages of never-married women (39.5) and divorced women (5.7) were among the county's highest.
Just 7.8% of residents age 25 or older had a four-year degree, a percentage considered low for the city and the county; the percentage with less than a high school diploma (not stated) was considered high.
- Stella Middle Charter Academy, LAUSD, 2636 Mansfield Avenue
- Marvin Elementary School, LAUSD, 2411 Marvin Avenue
- Cienega Elementary School, LAUSD, 2611 South Orange Drive
- Cleophas Oliver Learning Academy, private elementary, 4449 West Adams Boulevard
- Virginia Road Elementary School, LAUSD, 2925 Virginia Road
- Full Circle Learning Academy, LAUSD charter, 1850 West 96th Street
- Crown Preparatory Academy, 2055 W. 24th St.
West Adams is home to one of the largest collections of historic homes west of the Mississippi River. The West Adams area was developed between 1880 and 1925 and contains many diverse architectural styles of the era, including the Queen Anne, Shingle, Gothic Revival, Transitional Arts and Crafts, American Craftsman/Ultimate Bungalow, Craftsman Bungalow, Colonial Revival, Renaissance Revival, Mediterranean Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Mission Revival, Egyptian Revival, Beaux-Arts and Neoclassical styles. West Adams boasts the only existing Greene and Greene house left in Los Angeles. Its historic homes are frequently used as locations for movies and TV shows including CSI, Six Feet Under, The Shield, Monk, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and Of Mice and Men.
Recreation and parks
- Automobile Club of Southern California headquarters, 1923 (southwest corner of Adams Boulevard and Figueroa Street)
- Felix Chevrolet (northeast corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Figueroa)
- Mount St. Mary's College, Doheny Campus (Adams just east of Hoover Street)
- John Tracy Clinic (Adams just east of Hoover Street)
- Olympic Village, 1932 Summer Olympics (near intersection of Adams and Hoover)
- St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Roman Catholic church (northwest corner of Adams and Figueroa)
- St. John's Cathedral (southwest corner of Adams and Figueroa)
- University of Southern California
- William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
- Forthmann House - At 1102 W. 28th Street, a Victorian home built in 1880. This home is known as the Forthmann House and was built for the founders of the Los Angeles Soap Co. It is characterized by its mansard-roofed tower.
- Second Church of Christ, Scientist - At 948 West Adams Blvd, this 1910 building, designed in the Classical Revival style by Alfred H. Rosenheim and used as a Christian Science church for almost 100 years, will now be restored and used as a community center by the Art of Living Foundation Los Angeles Center
- John B. Kane Residence (Bonsallo Avenue near 23rd St)
Notable natives and residents
- Charles Winchester Breedlove, Los Angeles City Council member, 1933–45
- Edward L. Doheny, oil tycoon
- Hattie McDaniel, actress
- South Central Los Angeles
- List of Registered Historic Places in Los Angeles
- List of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments in South Los Angeles
-  "South L.A.," Mapping L.A., Los Angeles Times
-  "West Adams" Mapping L.A., Los Angeles Times
- The Thomas Guide, 2006, pages 633 and 673
-  "About West Adams," West Adams Heritage Association
- Khouri, Andrew (April 30, 2014) "Soaring home prices spur a resurgence near USC " Los Angeles Times
- West Adams on the Down Low : Curbed LA
- Phase 1 Construction
- Station 26 LA City Fire: Fire Station 26
-  "West Adams Schools," Mapping L.A., Los Angeles Times
-  Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks
-  Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks
- "Breedlove Dies Suddenly," Los Angeles Times, April 27, 1934, page A-1
- Location of the Breedlove home on Mapping L.A.
- West Adams Heritage Society, biographical sketch of Edward L. Doheny.
- Time magazine, "Victory on Sugar Hill", Monday, December 17, 1945.
- WAHA—West Adams Heritage Association
- Los Angeles Times: Saving Harvard Heights
- Van Buren Place Community Restoration Association
- West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association
- United Neighborhoods Council
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