Echo Park’s history, like its boundaries, can be a difficult thing to pin down. As with most LA neighborhoods, Echo Park’s history is not a linear time line as much as it is a series of overlapping lives, peoples and cultures punctuated by the occasional important event.
Up until the 1880s, Echo Park consisted of small ranches and farms and Echo Park Lake was known only as Reservoir No. 4. Beginning in 1886, due to the founding of Angelino Heights and the extension of the Los Angeles street car line, the area began to experience an influx of residents and visitors. By the 1890s the city of Los Angeles had begun to turn the land immediately surrounded the lake into a park, and individuals had established businesses and residences along Sunset and around the lake.
Northern Echo Park (once known as Edendale) was once home to Los Angeles’ first film studios. From 1909 until the 1920s most silent films were made in one of the studios lining what is now Glendale Blvd.
Even at this time in Echo Park’s history, it was home to people of varied cultures and social strata. Wealthy businessmen and their families inhabited the southern end of the neighborhood in Angelino Heights. On the north side of Echo Park artists, radicals, socialists and free-thinkers of all sorts found safety and seclusion in the hills of Elysian Heights.
In the 1920s, they were joined by a large number of communists who left Boyle Heights during the First Red Scare. This earned Echo Park the nickname of Red Hill (or Red Gulch) as many stayed up until the more widespread Red Scare in the 1950s.
Interestingly, fear of socialism in the 1950s is what postponed the building of public housing and eviction of the residents of Chavez Ravine. This secluded area was home to a poor but self-sufficient Mexican American community which was completely and finally uprooted on the early 1960s after Walter O’Malley acquired the land as the location for the future Dodger’s Stadium.
Most of the bigger and well-known stories end there, but the stories of individuals and communities have found voice in a rather long list of films and literature and (today) websites. A neighborhood that is home to such varied voices, a rich history and a strong identity deserves no less.
With this website, we aim to provide as much and as up-to-date information about Echo Park as we possibly can. We encourage everyone to respond to articles, submit information and generally let us know what’s up.
Some facts about Echo Park from the LA Times Mapping LA project:
As for the boundaries we at Echo Park Now cover, we have chosen to primarily focus in Echo Park but may occasionally throw in a post here and there for a location near but outside of Echo Park.
And like most Los Angeles neighborhoods, Echo Park’s boundaries are precarious and ever-changing. There are a couple of different ways that can help determine what is considered to be Echo Park, the rest we are leaving up to you!
The first map displays the area that the Greater Elysian Echo Park Neighborhood Council (GEPENC) represents (click on the map for the full PDF):
The blue lines around the highlighted area are also indicating the boundaries of Council District 13 (Eric Garcetti’s turf – see below). Keep in mind that there are residents outside that area (south of Dodger Stadium stretching to the 110 Freeway) that do consider themselves to be Echo Park residents.
The following map is from the LA Times Mapping Project, displaying a smaller area of Echo Park (click on the map for the link):
The purpose of the LA Times map, however, is to help LA Times readers know what neighborhoods they are reporting on, and do not necessarily reflect the historical, social, and geographical borders of Echo Park itself. It does, however, take into account Census Data, resident letters and comments, and other city resources to draw this map, so it proves to be a valuable resource. If you disagree with the above map, feel free to contact the LA Times Mapping Project.
Some Echo Park residents might lie in city council District 13, others in District 1. In District 13, the council member (and president) is Eric Garcetti. The area is quite large, so click here for a full map of to see if you’re in D13 or not. For District 1, Ed Reyes is your council member. Click here for the map of District 1.
In terms of local government, GEPENC is Echo Park’s neighborhood council. We often post meeting information when available, but you can always check the website if updated or follow the Echo Elysian Neighborhood Council Yahoo! forum here.
View our Local Government page for contact information.