West Adams, Los Angeles

Coordinates: 34°01′58″N 118°18′03″W / 34.0327023°N 118.3009579°W / 34.0327023; -118.3009579
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

West Adams
Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Building
West Adams is located in Los Angeles
West Adams
West Adams
Location in Central Los Angeles
Coordinates: 34°01′58″N 118°18′03″W / 34.0327023°N 118.3009579°W / 34.0327023; -118.3009579
CountryUnited States
CountyLos Angeles
Time zonePacific
Zip Code
Area code213/323 [1][2]

West Adams is a historic neighborhood in the South Los Angeles region of Los Angeles, California. The area is known for its large number of historic buildings, structures and notable houses and mansions. It contains several Historic Preservation Overlay Zones as well as designated historic districts.

Eugene W. Britt House, now home of the LA84 Foundation
House in 20th Street Historic District


Historic Engine House No. 18, built in a Mission Revival style in 1904.

West Adams is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city of 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, and a home to Downtown businessmen, as well as professors and academicians at the nearby University of Southern California. Several historic 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 landmark 1949 headquarters building 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.[3] The area was a favorite among black celebrities in the 1940s and 1950s; notable residents included Hattie McDaniel, Tim Moore, Eddie Anderson, Joe Louis, Sweet Daddy Grace, Little Richard, Lionel Hampton and Ray Charles.

Starting in 1961, construction of the ten-lane Santa Monica Freeway (Interstate 10) tore through West Adams' core, with the freeway routed east to west just north of Adams Boulevard. Its construction resulted in the taking by eminent domain, and demolition, of numerous West Adams homes, including a number of mansions owned by African Americans.[4] The construction resulted in substantial displacement of West Adams residents, including the relocation of much of the area's affluent Black families.[5] As the Los Angeles Sentinel reported:

The road could have been built without cutting through the so-called Sugar Hill section. However, in order to miss Sugar Hill, it was "said" that the route would have to cut through fraternity and sorority row area around USC. Sorority and fraternity row still stands and Sugar Hill doesn't, so you know who won out![5]

As in many other American cities during the heyday of Interstate Highway Act construction, interstate highway rights of way were disproportionately routed through predominantly African American communities, causing substantial displacement of residents and steep declines in neighborhood viability.[6]

In the past, many African-American gays had moved into the neighborhood, and it became the center of black gay life in Los Angeles, even earning the nickname of "the Black West Hollywood" or "the Black Silver Lake"[7]

Many of the neighborhoods, including West Adams, are experiencing a renaissance of sorts with their historic houses being restored to their previous elegance.[3]

West Adams Gateway Marker, installed in 2007 by LANI (Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative), in front of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Building

The area is undergoing gentrification,[8] with young professionals, restaurants, new businesses moving into the area. Many professionals are being attracted to the area, due to the proximity of job hubs in Silicon Beach, Culver City, and El Segundo.[9][10]

In 2007, the city approved the "West Adams Streetscape Enhancement Program" proposed by LANI (Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative). Improvements included the installation of four "gateway markers" at the corners of Adams Boulevard and Western Avenue and Adams Boulevard and Vermont Avenue. Additionally, 58 magnolia trees were planted along Adams Boulevard between Western and Vermont Avenues, along with additional trees clustered near the gateway markers.[11]


The City of Los Angeles[edit]

Neighborhood sign at
22nd Street and
Western Avenue

Beginning in 2000, the Eighth District Empowerment Congress began working on the "Naming Neighborhoods Project" to identify and name the communities with the neighborhood council area. Through research, a meeting with an urban historian, and numerous community meetings, sixteen neighborhoods, including the neighborhood of West Adams, were submitted to City Council in October 2001 and approved in February 2002.[12]

At that time, the city was directed to install "West Adams" neighborhood signs on Vermont, Western and Adams Boulevards [12][13][14][15]

West Adams is bounded by Western Avenue on the west, Vermont Avenue on the east, Jefferson Boulevard on the south and the Santa Monica Freeway on the north.[12]

Additionally, the area is marked with large concrete "gateway markers" at Western and Adams and Vermont and Adams.[11]

Los Angeles Times and other sources[edit]

According to the Los Angeles Times, West Adams is bounded by Figueroa Street on the east, West Boulevard on the west, Pico Boulevard on the north and Jefferson Boulevard on the south.[16] (Previously, the Times defined West Adams with a slightly smaller boundary: Vermont Avenue on the east, Crenshaw Boulevard on the west, Venice Boulevard on the north, and Jefferson Boulevard on the south.)[17]

The book Images of America - West Adams by Don Lynch, Suzanne Tarbell Cooper, and John Kurtz 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."[18]

West Adams Neighborhood Council[edit]

The West Adams Neighborhood Council covers the area south of the US-10 freeway, north of Obama Boulevard between Chesapeake Avenue and W. Jefferson Boulevard, north of Coliseum Street between Chesapeake Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard, west of Crenshaw Boulevard, and east of La Cienega Boulevard and Ballona Creek (abutting the city limits of Culver City).[19] It includes the neighborhood of Crenshaw Manor.

Tracts and districts[edit]

West Adams is home to one of the largest collections of historic houses and small mansions west of the Mississippi River. The West Adams neighborhood 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 the entire city of Los Angeles.

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.

Kinney Heights[edit]

Kinney Heights was developed around 1900 by developer Abbot Kinney, for whom it is named. It was a suburban tract of large wealthy Craftsman style houses at what was then the western edge of Los Angeles. The houses featured amenities like "beveled-glass china cabinets, marble fireplaces and mahogany floors".[20] It was accessible to downtown via streetcar and attracted upper-class families.[21]

Many of the hundred-year-old structures are still standing and have been renovated and upgraded. The neighborhood is part of the West Adams Terrace Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ).[22]

Twentieth Street Historic District[edit]

The Twentieth Street Historic District consists of a row of bungalows and Craftsman-style houses in the 900 block on the south side of 20th Street.

Charles Victor Hall tract[edit]

The West Adams Neighborhood Association covers the historic Charles Victor Hall tract, dating to 1894, bounded by Western Avenue on the west, Adams Boulevard on the north, Normandie Avenue to the east, and south to Jefferson Boulevard.[23]


According to the Mapping L.A. project of the Los Angeles Times, 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.[24]

Latinos made up 56.2% of the population, with black people at 37.6%, white people 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.[24]

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.[24]

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.[24] Just 7.8% of residents aged 25 and 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.[24]

Mexican and Salvadoran were the most common ancestries according to the 2000 census. Mexico and El Salvador were the most common foreign places of birth.[24]


As defined by the City of Los Angeles, the schools within the West Adams neighborhood include:[25]

  • 32nd Street / USC Performing Arts Magnet, LAUSD, 822 W. 32nd St.
  • John W. Mack Elementary School, LAUSD, 3020 S. Catalina St.
  • Norwood Street Elementary, LAUSD, 2020 Oak St.
  • Vermont Avenue Elementary School, LAUSD, 1435 W. 27th St.
West Adams Preparatory High School

Additionally, depending on the definition of the northern boundary of West Adams, the following schools are associated with the area:[25]

  • Camino Nuevo Elementary No. 3, Charter, 1723 Cordova St.
  • West Adams Preparatory High School, LAUSD, 1500 W. Washington Blvd.

The schools within the West Adams neighborhood, as defined by the Los Angeles Times “Mapping LA” project, are as follows:[26]

  • Stella Middle Charter Academy, LAUSD, 2636 Mansfield Avenue
  • Cienega Elementary School, LAUSD, 2611 South Orange Drive
  • Cleophas Oliver Learning Academy, private elementary, 4449 West Adams Boulevard
  • Virginia Road Elementary School, LAUSD, public, 2925 Virginia Road
  • Full Circle Learning Academy, LAUSD charter, 1850 West 96th Street
  • Crown Preparatory Academy, 2055 W. 24th St.

Recreation and parks[edit]

  • Loren Miller Recreation Center, 2717 Halldale Avenue[27]
  • Richardson Family Park, 2700 S. Budlong Avenue[28]


The Metro E Line from Downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica include stations in West Adams: Vermont/Expo and Expo/Western.[29]


West Adams has one Fire station in the neighborhood. The Los Angeles Fire Department operates Station 26, located at 2009 S. Western Avenue.[30]

Police services in West Adams are provided by the Los Angeles Police Department's Southwest Division.[31]

Notable places[edit]

Notable people[edit]

In media[edit]

In literature[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "April 2015 NPA Exhaust Projections" (PDF). Nanpa.com.
  2. ^ "Application of the North American Numbering Plan Administrator" (PDF). cpuc.ca. November 24, 2015. Retrieved April 11, 2023.
  3. ^ a b Khouri, Andrew (April 30, 2014) "Soaring home prices spur a resurgence near USC " Los Angeles Times
  4. ^ Masters, Nathan (September 10, 2012). "Creating the Santa Monica Freeway". KCET.
  5. ^ a b Meares, Hadley (February 22, 2018). "The thrill of Sugar Hill". Curbed LA. Retrieved January 1, 2022.
  6. ^ King, Noel (April 7, 2021). "A Brief History Of How Racism Shaped Interstate Highways". NPR News.
  7. ^ West Adams on the Down Low : Curbed LA
  8. ^ Flores, Jessica (September 12, 2019). "Is a bike tour through West Adams a sign of gentrification?". Curbed LA. Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  9. ^ Madams, Hannah (June 14, 2019) "Businesses Flock to West Adams" Los Angeles Business Journal
  10. ^ Barragan, Bianca (March 22, 2018). "Gaze upon these first visuals for 30-story Cumulus tower in West Adams". Curbed LA. Retrieved August 12, 2020.
  11. ^ a b "LANI - West Adams Enhancement Program" (PDF). CRALA. March 15, 2007. Retrieved February 28, 2023.
  12. ^ a b c "Council File 01-1874" (PDF). No. 16. City of Los Angeles. January 2005. pp. 31, 46, 49. Retrieved August 31, 2020. Area to be officially designated as "West Adams": • South Vermont Avenue between West 24th Street and West Jefferson Boulevard • West Jefferson Boulevard, between Western Avenue and South Vermont Avenue • South Western Avenue between West Jefferson Boulevard and the 10 "Santa Monica" Freeway • Santa Monica Freeway, between South Western Avenue and South Budlong Avenue • South Budlong Avenue, between the 10 "Santa Monica" Freeway and West 24th Street • West 24th Street between South Budlong Avenue and South Vermont Avenue
  13. ^ [1] Signage at Vermont and Adams, 2019
  14. ^ [2] Signage at Western and Adams, 2019
  15. ^ [3] Signage at Western and 22nd Street, 2021
  16. ^ Hofmann, Michelle (February 27, 2010). "On the market: West Adams". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 9, 2023. One of L.A.'s oldest neighborhoods, West Adams borders Figueroa Street on the east, West Boulevard on the west, Pico Boulevard on the north and Jefferson Boulevard on the south.
  17. ^ Bannks, Sandy (December 1, 1985). "The Battle of West Adams". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 9, 2023.
  18. ^ Lynch, Don; Cooper, Suzanne Tarbell; John, Kurtz (2008). "Introduction". Images of America - West Adams. Arcadia Publishing. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-7385-5920-9. Retrieved December 24, 2023. West Adams , an area roughly bounded by Figueroa Street, Jefferson Boulevard, Pico Boulevard and West Street.
  19. ^ West Adams Neighborhood Council Profile
  20. ^ Mithers, Carol (April 17, 2005). "Vanishing: The history of one house in L.A." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  21. ^ Oliver, Marilyn Tower (October 1, 1995). "In Touch with the Past: Craftsman-style homes in three neighborhoods recall gracious days of yore. Today they rate among L.A.'s best buys". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  22. ^ "Historic West Adams Tour". PreserveLA.com. October 9, 2005. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  23. ^ [4] “History - WANA,” West Adams Neighborhood Association
  24. ^ a b c d e f [5] "West Adams," Mapping L.A., Los Angeles Times
  25. ^ a b [6] “LA Unified Region South,” Los Angeles Unified School District
  26. ^ [7] "West Adams Schools," Mapping L.A., Los Angeles Times
  27. ^ [8] Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks
  28. ^ [9] Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks
  29. ^ "The Guide to the Metro Expo Line". Discover Los Angeles. Retrieved December 24, 2023. Expo/Vermont - This station... in the West Adams district. Located in the West Adams district, the Expo/Western Station...
  30. ^ "Fire Station 26". LAFD. Retrieved April 30, 2022.
  31. ^ "Southwest Community Police Station". LAPD Online. Retrieved April 30, 2022.
  32. ^ "Ray Charles Foundation". theraycharlesfoundation.org. Retrieved December 23, 2023. The Ray Charles Memorial Library - 2107 W. Washington Boulevard.
  33. ^ "West Adams Heritage Association | in West Adams, Los Angeles, California".
  34. ^ "West Adams – Visiting (110) – Huell Howser Archives at Chapman University". December 7, 2016.
  35. ^ Pochado, Ivy (May 21, 2020). "A West Adams Tour of Ivy Pochoda's New Literary Thriller These Women". Interview (magazine). Retrieved December 24, 2023.
  36. ^ "These Women". GoodReads.com. Retrieved December 24, 2023. In West Adams, a rapidly changing part of South Los Angeles, they're referred to as "these women."

External links[edit]