Friday, March 28, 2008

Journey To The Center of Town...Or...The Militant Puts His Foot Down On The Whole Eastside / Westside Nonsense

(Click to enlarge). Memorize this people; you will be quizzed at the end of class.

Last weekend, when hundreds of Angelenos brought pillows to Downtown's Pershing Square and had a go at it for an hour, the Militant (who wasn't there, but an unspecified number of his siblings did participate), had mixed feelings on this. On one hand, it's one of those meaningless silly quasi-hipster activities meant to make up for people's lost childhoods. On another, the Militant digs flash mobs. On yet another (for you three-handed people out there - represent!), it's a sign that the populace finally yearns for a city center and makes use of the one we have (it was, after all, called "Central Park" over 110 years ago).

So this got the Militant's big cerebral wheels toynin', after reading the most recent of an endless stream of "Eastside vs. Westside" boundary definition debates flung forth on all local blogdom. The Militant said it millions of times on blog comments, but he finally wants to make it visible for all the world to see on This Here Blog.

In short, the following axioms:

1. WHEREAS, The Eastside, in all absolute terms, is east, the Militant repeats, east of the Los Angeles River.

2. WHEREAS, The Westside, for all intents and purposes, is west of La Cienega Blvd (yes, the Militant realizes there are various self-defined variations on this, like the 405, or La Brea or even Lincoln Blvd, but just like concepts like "racism," we will go absolutely nowhere on the subject unless we have a consensus on the definition of the word, so the Militant chooses to use the general dividing line between 323- and 310- dom). There it is, take it.

3. THEREFORE, west of the Los Angeles River is NOT "The Westside" nor is east of La Cienega Blvd "The Eastside." There is no dividing line between the two. You cannot be on the Westside and throw crap across the street to the "Eastside." You cannot be on the Eastside and hock a loogie across the street to the Westside. You cannot jump between Westside and Eastside in a precisely-located game of hopscotch. Stop thinking binary here.

4. WHEREAS, there is a region between The Eastside and The Westside (The crowd silences, the earth quakes, the veil of the temple is torn in two).

5. WHEREAS, The region between The Eastside and The Westside is the center of the city.

6. THEREFORE, those of you transies who love to spout, "L.A. has no center," better go download Los Angeles Geography 3.0 - because you need an upgrade.

In addition, according to the map above (prepared by one of the Militant's most cartographically- and Photoshopically-inclined operatives under the direct supervision of The Militant), The Valley is everything north of the Santa Monica Mountains ridge line or, when present, Mulholland Drive. Essentially Glendale is part of the The Valley, separated from NELA (That's NorthEast Los Angeles - which is technically part of the Eastside, but in certain instances can stand on its own) by the 2 Freeway. Why is Glendale part of the Valley? 818 area code. End of discussion.

Now, the Militant uses "The Center" as a general term and not as the be-all-end-all identifiable moniker for The Center of Town. He leaves that open to you, the reader and perhaps other bloggistas, provided they recognize the fact that Los Angeles actually has a center now. Because let's face it, that's where the density is, that's where the transit lines converge, that's where the variety of good food is, where you go to clubs, where you watch movies, where the diversity is, that's where the rest of the region follows suit, and don't you forget it.

Now the Eastcoastcentric transies will inevitably balk and say, "B-b-but, that's no center! It's too big!" Well Los Angeles is a big region, so it's perfectly proportionate. Duh.

As for the geographic center of "The Center," (not to be confused with the actual geographical center of the entire City of Los Angeles), it appears to be around the Los Angeles City College campus. Perhaps the folks who live or work around there should take heed.

So Silver_Lakers and Echo Parkers, you are no longer "Eastsiders." And you never were in the first place. You belong to the heart of the city. Get used to it, damnit.

46 comments:

shainLA said...

bravo! according to miriam webster, here are some words that mean the same as "center." maybe we can use one of these instead:

Synonyms - base, capital, core, cynosure, eye, focus, heart, hub, mecca, nucleus, seat

have at it!

Joe Crawford (artlung) said...

Excellent distillation! Kudos!

bgfa said...

Thank you Militant. Never do I want to hear any further debate on this issue. The book is now closed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks i've been out here 6 years and still was a little shaky on the boundaries. What's up with the area codes? You said something about 323 vs. 310? Is 323 more Central LA and 310 Westside?

Militant Angeleno said...

anonymous: 323 is central Los Angeles , much of South Los Angeles and the eastside -- minus Downtown (which is 213, which is what the entire area used to be). 310 is westside and south bay.

EL CHAVO! said...

I second the motion. Even on the Eastside neighborhoods try to define themselves (BH, Maravilla, Hazard, the hole, Whittier, Evergreen) either by streets or Parks, how hard can it be to do that elsewhere?

Militant Angeleno said...

El Chavo!: Well if there's anyone who's a bigger East-Of-The-River-Eastside proponent than the Militant, it's gotta be El Chavo!!

BTW, where is "The Hole"?

Alex Thompson said...

Hell yeah! I typically say East of Fairfax is not West, but in the interests of a consensus I adopt your convention. The Center solves some naming problems nicely.

Anonymous said...

Cool breakdown. Quick question though: is the Greater Los Angeles area included in this assessment? Or does it only encompass what is considered the City of Los Angeles?

JMM

EL CHAVO! said...

The Hole is the area around the Mott St/ Whittier park otherwise known as Boyle Heights Sports Center http://www.laparks.org/dos/reccenter/facility/boyleHeightsSC.htm

Anonymous said...

@JMM: Of course it includes more than just the official City of LA -- Glendale is its own city, as are Burbank, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Santa Monica etc. etc.

Militant Angeleno said...

JMM: The map is not an all-encompassing regional map. The South Bay, Harbor, SGV, IE, OC, Mid Cities, etc aren't listed. But then again no one's really arguing where the OC begins, etc.

The Map shows the central urban Los Angeles region, which converges around "The Center."

Besides, the Militant doesn't care much for Lancaster or Rancho Cucamonga :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying the 323 vs. 310. I have a 310 but I live in Inglewood so I guess I live on the West Side! (j/k..I know that would deeply offend West Siders)

Anyway I do not care for Rancho Cucamonga or Lancaster either :-) I prefer regular Los Angeles and the SGV- even though I am a transplant.

Anonymous said...

I've considered my hometown area southeast Los Angeles...323 area code consisting of Bell, Huntington Park, South Gate, Maywood, Cudahy, Bell Gardens, etc. No one ever seems to know where these places are, and they tend to get ignored. That's why I asked...it seems to have been grouped with South L.A., but it's not really considered South L.A.

So this area isn't considered to converge around "the center?" Downtown is about 20 minutes away from here (then again, isn't everything in this around here?).

Either way, I'm used to living in an ambiguous place.

JMM

Robert90033 said...

The View from the Eastside of Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, is or at least was when I was growing up, that everything west of Downtown Los Angeles was the westside. Even the gangs west of Downtown always put "WS" on their gang name to indicate "Westside". To me the westside does begin west of Downtown, all you have to do is witness the name of the streets from West Lake Av, to Western Av. and West Blvd. etc.. Many branches of government from Police, to DWP, Southern California, Gas, L.A. County Sheriffs anbd the local Library branch define the area as west or as their "western branch" if they have an office in the area. Lastly, the City of Los Angeles seems to define the westside as being west of La Brea. Just look at the boundary they use for the proposed conversion of Pico/Plympic Blvds.. As a side note I would say if anything the area can be seen as West Central Los Angeles, because the actual City center is none other than the Central City itself, Downtown Los Angeles. So City West is actually the Gateway to the westside! = )

Bandit said...

pshhhh im an edendale native and i beleived that it was more of the center of the rest of the cities than any other! wooooot go DODGERS!!!

Militant Angeleno said...

Robert 90033: Those "west" references you mentioned are no longer valid; They were placed at a time when the western boundary of the city was much more inland than it is now. Places like Westwood, Brentwood and Sawtelle weren't even part of the city then.

chimatli said...

Awesome, Militant! With a map y todo! Sometimes visual representations can be more effective for those with hard heads. :)

Valleypinoy said...

How about Atwater Village? According to your map, it falls in "The Center," yet it is technically east of the LA River. It carries a 323 area code so it can't be like Glendale in the Valley. Would it be part of the NELA portion of the Eastside?

Militant Angeleno said...

Valleypinoy: You're giving the Militant a headache here.

j/k. Yes, though The AWV is across from the River, it does run in a diagonal fashion and is upstream from the Arroyo Seco, so technically it is not "East" of the river.

The AWV is characteristically closer to Silver_Lake than to NELA hoods like Glassell Park, Highland Park, Eagle Rock, et. al. so the Militant places it in the center. Also one unifying characteristic of NELA neighborhoods is the hills -- whereas The AWV is all flatland.

David Markland said...

I'll sign on for this. Where's the petition?

Militant Angeleno said...

David Markand: No petition, just acknowledge the parameters in your blogs. If you have a suggestion to name "The Center," feel free to let the Militant know. He may or may not stage a "Name 'The Center' of Los Angeles" contest in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Valleypinoy...

To complicate matters, parts of Atwater Village (north of Veselich or Verdant, I think) do have an 818 area code.

faboomama said...

Great map. I just saw it over at MetLA and had to come over here to comment. I'm curious as to why my new favorite park in all of LA, Ernest Debs, is partly NELA and partly Eastside. But no matter, I'm on the Eastside as I've been saying to my Silver Lake friends who try to claim that their vanilla world is all Eastside, while I've been telling them it's No Man's Land, like a tennis court.

Anonymous said...

Are you sticking to district boundaries? You've got Glassell Park split between NELA, "The Valley" as well as "The Center." Part of Glassell Park runs west along the 2 Freeway from Atwater almost to Colorado in Glendale. Though to stick to that sort of accuracy would make for a sloppier looking map.

soledad.en.masa. said...

JMM,

South Gate (my home town), Bell, HP, Maywood, Vernon, Cudahy, Lynwood, Vernon and Walnut Park are Southeast L.A. County. That's one way to refer it. They're also Gateway cities, if you want to use that moniker.

meandering said...

My applause to you MA for settnig up some tight definitions.

I'll continue to refer to my chunk out in the SGV as "far east LA" simply to keep us part of LA and not, repeat NOT, part of the IE.

RobNoxious said...

This is absolutely correct! I had always thought of it this way, but never has anyone so eloquently staked it out.

As for naming the region, I'm for keeping it simple, so it may more easily work its way into the mindset of our little town, but perhaps "THE Center" is a bit ostentatious.

I suggest refering to the region as "Central L.A."

Like this: "Oh, I'm in Central L.A., you know, Hollywood, Los Feliz, around there...." Just as an example of how to start making this thing viral.

Anonymous said...

while this might work geographically, this does not take into account any cultural or sociological inputs when determining city boundries which I think is equally important to consider. I doubt the hipsters of silver lake would enjoy being lumped in with the hancock park yuppies or weho crowd?

cindylu said...

Wow. This should be handed out to folks who have recently moved to LA.

Militant Angeleno said...

the most recent "anonymous": The Militant said the Center is where the diversity is. Culturally and economically. You have poor families living in garages in Pico-Union and rich celebrities living up in the hills. Besides, Silver_Lake hipsters have way more in common with the Hancock Park Yuppies than they do with folks who live in West Hills, Athens, Wilmington or City Terrace, right?

Militant Angeleno said...

Cindylu: Can you help the Militant make some copies? :D

Militant Angeleno said...

soledad.en.masa: One of the Militant's first jobs was at an unspecified company which dealt with clients from all over Southern California. They referred to your part of the county as "Mid-Cities" - of course, not to be confused with the Los Angeles community of "Mid City"

Glassell Park Anonymous: If you're in GP, you're in NELA, howzzat?
The 2 Freeway boundary was mainly to separate Glendale from Eagle Rock (NELA).

Faboomama: Debs Park was used because if forms a ridge line of the hills there as no street or other geographical feature seems to distinguish NELA from the (rest of the) Eastside. Whether NELA people want to be Eastsiders or their own area is the topic of another discussion.

Mike said...

Great job, Militant. As a Los Feliz resident, I hate it when I hear my neighborhood referred to as "The Eastside." Finally, our long regional nightmare is over. Don't question it, people!

Pachuco 3000 said...

Thanks, this is perfect!

hormiguita said...

soledad.en.masa:

Yeah, I've considered it that too...southeast Los Angeles County. And I guess it also is a gateway. Awesome. Yay South Gate! I'm from Bell. Yeeuh. Haha.

Militant Angeleno:

Never heard it called Mid-City!

Oscar said...

As a lifelong Angeleno (always lived in 213/323 areas until 2004, reside in the Valley now, but hope to make it back to 323/213 after college), I really appreciate this map and want to print out my own copy. Great job! =)

cindylu said...

Do the copies have to be in color? I can sneak some at work.

Militant Angeleno said...

Cindylu: Email the Militant and he will get his Photoshopically-inclined operatives to make you a grayscale version. Howzat?

Alex Thompson said...

Militant:

http://www.ibikeu.com/wiki/index.php/Talk:Westside_of_Los_Angeles

You wanna contribute to this wiki? Email me - alexcthompson at gmail dot com

Dan C. said...

oh man.... pleez pleez make a larger one that goes all the way out to the borders of the IE, Ventura, and OC. I want a map of everywhere that's considered "LA." Because this map only covers a small part of the people who consider themselves Angelenos.

Also, some people might think defining this stuff so closely would be divisive or otherwise not a good idea... but Angelenos are so so regionally ignorant that anything that makes them think about where they live is awesome.

stephen parisi said...

I have read many different assessment on this topic, and I have to say I REALLY LIKE THIS MAP AND CONCEPT no matter where it came from. My only thought is that it's strange and a confusing to split West Hollywood down the middle. Can we nudge the Center line over to Doheny...then Center and Westside would be divided by Beverly Hills and WEHO. ??

Erika Isabel Vega said...

One of my pet peeves is when people call the San Fernando Valley simply "The Valley." There's more than one valley in Los Angeles! What about the San Gabriel Valley?! The city started with the San Gabriel Mission and yet people always forget the SGV.

Militant Angeleno said...

Erika: Point taken, but the City of Los Angeles proper does not reach into the San Gabriel Valley, hence the term "The Valley" to describe the part of the City of Los Angeles that is north of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Another reason is that the SGV identity is a relatively recent thing, which largely coincided with the introduction of the 626 area code. Back when the entire SGV had the 213 area code, people in the SGV did not have the same geographical identity that they do today, as it was a bunch of suburbs that lacked a common bond. When the SFV and SGV became 818, that identity grew since, both valleys were separate from 213, and when the SGV earned its exclusive area code, there was finally something to unify the SGV, which sparked today's SGV identity.

Valleypinoy said...

Ah yes...I love how this article is still relevant after all these years. Viva "The Center"!

Militant Angeleno said...

Valleypinoy: Do you know a place where The Militant can have this entire post engraved in stone?