is a district east of Downtown Los Angeles
on the East Side
of Los Angeles, California
, USA. The Heights are on the East side of the Los Angeles River
. For much of the twentieth century, Boyle Heights was a gateway for new immigrants. This resulted in diverse demographics, including Jewish American
, Japanese American
& Mexican American
populations, as well as Russian American
populations. Now the neighborhood is over 95% Hispanic
according to the 2000 US Census.
Geography and transportation
Boyle Heights lies on the east bank of the Los Angeles River
. It comprises the bluffs for which the district is named and the muddy flats ("The Flats") below them. The district's boundaries are roughly Mission Road on the north, the Los Angeles city limits on the east and south, and the river on the west. Downtown Los Angeles
lies to the west, Lincoln Heights
lies to the north, City Terrace
and East Los Angeles
are to the east, Commerce
is to the southeast, and Vernon
is to the south. Major thoroughfares include Whittier Boulevard; Cesar E. Chavez
Avenue; and State, Soto, Lorena, 1st, and 4th Streets.
"All Roads lead to Boyle Heights"
Boyle Heights was once called Paredon Blanco
(White Bluffs) when California was part of Mexico. Boyle Heights has long been a destination for newcomers to Los Angeles
. Andrew Boyle
, for whom the area is named, was an Irish
immigrant who established his home in the area in 1858. His son-in-law, William H. Workman
, served as mayor and city councilman and helped build the water lines, bridges, and public transportation that connected Boyle Heights across the river to the city center and made it a viable place to live. By the end of the 19th century, many well-to-do residents and civic leaders resided in Boyle Heights.
As Los Angeles expanded into an industrializing city, the population of Boyle Heights both grew and diversified. Many people moved east of the Los Angeles River due to downtown development, rising real estate values, and racially discriminatory housing restrictions in other parts of the city.
Throughout the past century, people moved to Boyle Heights in search of new opportunities. Some came after being driven out of their countries of origin by wars, persecution, and adverse economic circumstances. All of these people, old and new residents alike, impacted the neighborhood they shared as they created homes and communities supporting their diverse talents, interests, and needs.
The massive East Los Angeles Interchange is located in Boyle Heights on the eastern bank of the Los Angeles River, allowing access to the Golden State (I-5), Hollywood (U.S. Route 101), Pomona (SR 60), San Bernardino (I-10), Santa Ana (I-5), and Santa Monica (I-10) freeways.
The Edward R. Roybal Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension
In 2004, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
(MTA) began work on the "Edward R. Roybal
Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension" of its Gold Line
through Boyle Heights. MTA had planned to run the line at grade level along 1st Street, but community opposition concerned for the potential loss of affordable housing led it to instead route the line through the district as a subway
before it emerges as a standard grade-level light rail
line in East Los Angeles. (Ironically, this route was planned as part of the Red Line
subway before 1998, when county voters passed a proposition banning use of existing sales tax revenues for subway construction.) The Eastside Extension is expected to open in 2009.
Originally owned by the early L.A. Boyle-Workman family, the district was subdivided in 1875 and named after Andrew Boyle. Traditionally one of the most heterogeneous neighborhoods in the city, it was a center of Jewish, Mexican and Japanese immigrant life in the early 20th century, and also hosted large Yugoslav and Russian populations. Canter's Deli, one of Los Angeles' culinary landmarks and a beloved fixture in the city's Jewish community, was originally located in Boyle Heights before it followed its customer base to the Fairfax District in the 1940s. However, during and after World War II, most of its non-Latino population left for Mid-Wilshire, the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys, and the West Side. A large percentage of Boyle Heights' population also was interned in relocation camps such as Manzanar during World War II, and did not return after the war. This evolution is evidenced, among many other ways, by the name of the district's main drag: once Brooklyn Avenue, it was rechristened Cesar E. Chavez Avenue in 1994.
Breed Street Shul
Opened in 1923, the Breed Street Shul, located at 247 North Breed Street, was one of the oldest synagogues on West Coast of the United States. Boyle Heights was a predominantly Jewish community for many years, but slowly the demographic changed to a large Latino community, and the synagogue steadily lost congregation members.
Breed Street Shul was finally abandoned in 1996, with the building becoming ramshackle. Shortly afterward, an effort was made to renovate the synagogue, and to preserve the site for posterity. In 1999, the nonprofit Breed Street Shul Project, Inc., a subsidiary of the Jewish Historical Society of Southern California (JHS), officially undertook the restoration project. The project has been completed, and Breed Street Shul is now considered a national historic landmark.
Unlike the middle- and lower-middle-class neighborhoods on the bluffs, "The Flats" was one of the most impoverished areas of the city, and by the 1930s was considered one of the last remaining slums
in the United States. Those living in the "Heights" did not consider the flats part of Boyle Heights
. The City of Los Angeles had separate neighborhood signs to mark the areas in the flats.
Reformer Jacob Riis had visited The Flats in the early 1910s and declared them worse than anything in New York; a survey conducted by the city in the 1937 deemed 20% of the city's dwellings "unfit for human habitation," including most of The Flats. During World War II, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) razed The Flats and built housing projects in their place, resulting in Aliso Village and Pico Gardens. Like most of HACLA's 1940s projects, Aliso Village and Pico Gardens were hailed at the time of their construction as some of the finest examples of the principles espoused by the garden city movement, and were racially integrated to boot.
Soon after the end the war, Aliso Village and Pico Gardens lost most of their non-Latino populations, and were increasingly populated by Mexican immigrants. With the river on one side and a massive rail yard on another, the construction of the East Los Angeles Interchange further isolated them from the rest of the city, and the closure of the Pacific Electric Railway dramatically reduced the mobility of many of the projects' residents. By the 1970s, overcrowding had eliminated much of Aliso Village's once-vaunted green spaces, physical deterioration had become rampant, and gangs were an increasing problem. In the 1980s the residents of Aliso Village and Pico Gardens began to organize with the support of Dolores Mission Church and its community Organization UNO and began to address these problems. By the late eighties the residents of the two housing projects had developed a network of community groups that pushed for better services and began negotiating truces between the different gangs, thus reducing the level of violence. In 1996, HACLA wrote off both projects, against the residents desires; Pico Gardens was razed and rebuilt eliminating half of the units in the development. Aliso Village was demolished and replaced with the New Urbanist, Pueblo del Sol "workforce housing" project. In the process two-thirds of the residents of the two housing projects were displaced.
As of the census of 2000, there are 86,734 people in the neighborhood. The racial identification of the neighborhood is 93.73% Latino, 2.44% Asian, 2.18% White (Nonhispanic), 1.65% Other races.
Los Angeles Fire Department Station 2
(Boyle Heights) and Station 25
(South Boyle Heights) are in Boyle Heights.
Los Angeles Unified School District
operates Boyle Heights' public schools.
- Dolores Mission School
- Santa Isabel School
- Santa Teresita Elementary School
- Saint Mary's Elementary School
- Our Lady of Talpa Elementary School
- White Memorial Adventist School
- Resurrection Elementary School
- Assumption Parish School
Local Private/Catholic High School
- Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles
- Jose Huizar, Democratic politician
- Nick Pacheco, Democratic politician
- Edward R. Roybal, WWII Veteran, Democrat in the United States House of Representatives for the 30th district and later for the 25th district of California and was the first Mexican American member of the Los Angeles City Council.
- Paul Bannai First Japanese American to ever serve in the California State Legislature.
- Julian Nava, 1st Mexican-American to serve in the L.A.U.S.D
- Eugene A. Obregon, Korean War Medal of Honor
- Judge Harry Pregerson United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
- Lucille Roybal-Allard United States House of Representatives, 34th District.
- Nativo Lopez Immigrant Right Activist
- George Nakano California State Assemblyman, First Japanese to serve in the City of Torrance City Council
- Sheldon Andelson First openly gay person to be appointed to the University of California Regents or any high position in state government.
- Fred Okrand First Legal Director of the Southern California Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union
- Zev Yaroslavsky Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, 3rd District
- Donald Sterling, Los Angeles Clippers owner (he was raised in this neighborhood as a child)
- Joe Gold, Bodybuilder and founder of Gold's Gym
- Sam Balter, 1936 Olympic Gold Medal - Basketball
- Art Aragon Lightweight Boxer, 1944 to 1960, was "The Golden Boy" long before Oscar De La Hoya was born.
- Willie Davis, Fastest Man in Baseball, Dodgers
- Mike Garrett, Two-time All-American - USC Heisman Trophy Winner 1965
- Paul Gonzales, 1st Mexican American to win a Gold Medal, 1984 Olympics Boxing.
- Pancho Gonzales, 1st [Mexican American] broke through 1940s World Tennis Championship
- Oscar de la Hoya - Boxer
- Edward James Olmos, Actor
- Josefina Lopez, Writer (Writer of Real Women Have Curves)
- Lew Wasserman, A Hollywood agent and studio executive
- Don Tosti, Musician, Composer
- Lou Adler, Record company owner, record producer, manager, and director
- will.i.am, Grammy Producer and member of the Black Eyed Peas
Arts & Literature
- Julius Shulman, World Famous photographer of architecture
- Harold M. Williams, Dean UCLA Graduate School of Management, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Creator of The New Getty Center Los Angeles
- Father Greg Boyle, S.J. founder of Homeboy-Industries
- Joe Otoniel Tamayo, Fought in WWII(104th Inf. Div, 804thOrd., Co. "Timberwolves"-involved in the first liberation of a concerntration camp), fought in the Battle of the Buldge, was a background dancer in The Razor's Edge(1946) starring Tyrone Power, one of the first jewelers ever to work on the electronic watch in Southern California, member of the long, established Tamayo Family, in Boyle Heights since the 1920's.