Everyone has a series of New Year’s Resolutions – weight loss, healthier eating habits, quitting smoking, saying “I love you” more often. Ours aren’t that different, but we really want to get out and do more locally. That brings us to our Echo Park resolutions, perhaps you’ll join in:
The author grew up in the neighborhood and witnessed a much different Echo Park in the ’70s and ’80s. Everyone says it’s amazing. It’s on Oprah’s list, so it’s on ours.
Community Supported Agriculture is a subscription service for locally grown produce. CSA came to Echo Park in fall 2010, but moved to nearby Silver Lake Natural Foods Market when Mooi, where CSA was delivering to, cut back its hours. Or you can also just shop at the Friday Farmers’ Market in Echo Park (closed today for the holiday but coming back January 7).
“Secret Stairs” is a great guide for finding hidden stairways in Echo Park and beyond. Of the six Echo Park stairway loops he offers up in the book, the toughest one looks to be Walk #15 : Avalon-Baxter Loop. With almost 700 steps and a difficulty level of 4.5 (that’s out of 5!), we will have to work our way up to this one.
The lake rehab project is bittersweet – it needs to be cleaned and updated (though we wish they’d keep the historic qualities of the lake), but the two years it will take to clean things up will be horrible. Starting in April, they will dredge the lake and rebuild, so we don’t have long to enjoy its beauty, and it will never be the same.
Stories in Echo Park is a really cool bookstore – free wi-fi, $5 mac-n-cheese Mondays, and a great atmosphere, I’ve really got to start spending more time there.
With a full-time job and a wedding coming up, things are getting pretty crazy around here! But if you’re interested in joining in on the fun, send us an email with your information and what sort of stuff you’d like to write about. We’d love to bring more contributors in to Echo Park Now in 2011!
Popular website Curbed LA took on renaming the “not Eastside,” that is everything east of Western and west of the Los Angeles River including Echo Park, earlier this year by putting it to a vote (they now call it North Central). Now they are working on the annual “Curbed Cup,” where eight neighborhoods compete for LA’s best neighborhood by popular vote. Echo Park is not only one of those neighborhoods, it made it to round two – beating South Park in round one (no competition there).
The question is, will Echo Park defeat Old Bank in round two, which opens up for voting tomorrow?
Curbed LA has a colorful description of Old Bank for your voting education:
Even though the Old Bank District/Historic Core is a previous winner, so the neighborhood returns again to the competition. The area saw plans submitted for the Spring Street pocket park, while up the street, a new park unrolled at the site of the LAPD headquarters. Developments like the El Dorado and the Medallion opened, while Barry Shy’s animal kingdom painting distracted everyone from the large holes he blew in his building. With The Last Bookstore drawing patrons, and the new restaurants drawing diners, the Old Bank District still remains a popular contender. Bonus points for its always-lively street scene–good place to people watch.
As for Echo Park, well I can’t say this exactly describes why I personally live here, but just for the sake of sharing this is how Curbed LA describes our neighborhood:
Echo Park, the neighborhood the Los Angeles Times just discovered, was quite a hub of action this year. Panic! At the Disco Rocker bought in the hood, the and the area beat back a controversial townhome project (and continued its love of Tiki shacks). Numerous new restaurants and shops arrived–notably, a yuppie deli named Cookbook opened, while a micro-brewery (gentrification alert!) will open soon on Sunset Boulevard. And did we mention this region tried on a new name this year? North Central is still being tested out, but Echo Park, you’re officially so hip, the hipsters are already packing and moving to Highland Park. *Trader Joes’s expansion was in Silver Lake, not EP.
Even if Echo Park wins the fake trophy for LA’s best neighborhood, do we really want to draw more attention to us after the recent LA Times hipster article?
The LA Times published an article last Friday about how Echo Park is now a “hipster destination,” and it seems to have caused a bit of a knee-jerk reaction amongst Echo Parkians and Angelinos. It must be a case of hipsteria?
For one thing, the article, titled “Echo Park evolves into hipster destination,” implies this is a new thing and that we’ve lost its Latino roots to this mainstream subculture. “Once a largely working-class Latino neighborhood,” the author writes, “Echo Park is now home to one of L.A.’s most densely packed night-life corridors, with more than 15 popular bars, clubs and restaurants drawing crowds each weekend and often on weeknights too.”
Instead of being a new thing, this actually has been happening for quite some time now, and is also really just another cycle in Echo Park’s evolution (okay, I’m actually starting to hate that word). Call it gentrification – another scary word – but this is a discussion that has been going on in Echo Park and other older Los Angeles communities for a long, long time.
One commenter on the LA Times article writes: “Actually, the headline should read, ‘Echo Park DEVOLVES into hipster destination’. I can’t say I’m enthusiastic about hipsters OR racists. Isn’t there a way to spiff up a neighborhood without invoking either one?”
The word “hipster” causes a knee-jerk reaction in itself, especially for long-time residents who have seen Echo Park “evolve.” The skinny jeans, worn out vintage boots, rollie fingers, American Apparel sweater, iPod-wearing, super trendy, possibly with a trust fund kind of hipster. The subculture has definitely been attracted to Echo Park, where artists and activists have for a long time been a part of the community. But are is the hipster presence really that bad?
And on another note, why give the so-called hipsters all the credit for improving the community? One commenter on the LA Times article writes (sarcastically, we hope), “So next time you see me walking down echo park ave… you remember that it was us hipsters that made this neighborhood decent enough to walk with your children at night.”
Well, considering I don’t see “you” at the community meetings with the neighborhood council, Echo Park Improvement Association discussions, Echo Park trash cleanups, CCAC graffiti removals, working with the LAPD, or actively involved in the community in general, I won’t give all the hipsters all the credit for making Echo Park safer for businesses. But I also won’t necessarily shame the hipster style or lifestyle for that matter, I just think that credit should be given where’s it’s due, and not to a temporary subculture that happens to be “in” right now.
When I first moved to Echo Park, I had just graduated from college and moved into the cheapest apartment I could find. At $550 per month and with a roommate I found on Craigslist, I learned (after moving in) that my very first, very cheap post-college apartment had a bit of a, well, cockroach issue. And then we found the hole the mice were coming through. And the street this first post-college apartment was on had a bit of a crime issue. Suffice to say it wasn’t the best living, and not all streets in Echo Park are like that, but it worked at the time.
(Note: My first day there, with my U-Haul parked out front, an LAPD car pulled up. One of the officers asked us, “Who’s moving in?” I replied in my usual bubbly tone, “Me!!” They shook their heads and continued on… a sign of what to expect perhaps?)
Whatever the cockroach issues or the crime issue, one of the things I could never solve, however, was the LA Times newspaper delivery. While I realized it could be due to my zip code or maybe just because my street was really that bad, that Sunday Times never arrived, and after a couple of months of calling I couldn’t get a straight answer from the LA Times.
One of my fave blog reads, Franklin Avenue, posted about this issue today and revealed that the LA Times is now allowing subscribers to “opt-in” on receiving the LA Times Magazine along with their Sunday paper. Apparently the Magazine was only available in certain zip codes, and, as the blog describes: “…but, ahem, apparently Franklin Avenue HQ isn’t in an upscale enough part of SoCal.” We feel ya!
So now those “undesirable zip codes,” as Franklin Avenue describes it, can no receive both the Sunday Times and the Magazine… That is, if you can get the Times to deliver in the first place.
For our readers: We recently added an “Opinions” category to the website as a way to separate out our posts from our more, well, opinionated articles. This would be one of those…
Wednesdays are rough days for me. They are not nearly close enough to Fridays, and the heavy workloads usually make me want to start drinking during the week again. But mostly, they are exhuasting as I just don’t get enough sleep in the mornings. They wouldn’t be, except for the lovely sounds of our neighborhood trash trucks.
Now before you comment on this article saying, “Kelly, why do you hate city services?”, let’s be frank. I actually like having my garbage picked up and the streets swept clean for (even if the street sweeping is half-halfhearted and infrequent). But sometimes… sometimes you’re just not so into it.
Here’s why I, and those who live above the alley in an apartment complex can feel me, despise trash day: My street seems to be a main thoroughfare for trash pickup in our part of Echo Park. Dozens of trucks come by, and by around 8 or 9:00 am they’ve all done u-turns below our bedroom window – squeaky breaks piercing through our single-paned windows, “beep, beep, beep” with every reverse, loud diesel engines working hard against the steep hill. It’s like shrill bombs going off every few minutes outside the window (again, single-pane windows).
And the beeps are the worst – because there are so many trucks needed in our high-density neighborhood, they start by 6:00 am, if not a few minutes before. Earplugs always ready by my alarm clock, I typically catch a glance at how early it is when I’m shoving those things in. I keep thinking, there’s just no way these guys can be in Echo Park at 5:54 am, beep-beep-beeping and crashing the heavy plastic cans against the curbs. But they are – and they can.
A quick Google search reveals city noise ordinances allow garbage trucks and such services to operate between the hours of 6:00 am and 9:00 pm. So much for my letter-writing campaign to the LA Bureau of Sanitation.
So some day, hopefully, my dear trash truck drivers: fix those incredibly squeaky, shrill brakes, spray some WD-40 on those arm thingies that lift the cans up and down, and maybe lightly (or less forcefully) place the trash cans on the curb. Then maybe on a Wednesday, I’ll be cheery at work from a nice, uninterrupted night of sleep.