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Issue: Winter 2012-2013
East Hollywood
By: Nyla Arslanian

The Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center has been a fixture since 1924 and in 1953 Kaiser Permanente joined the neighborhood.

AS REAL AS THE "REEL" HOLLYWOOD!

Through the years East Hollywood has experienced wave upon wave of immigration.  In 1914, it was the arrival of a band of William Fox players, headed by Winfield Sheehan, from New York who took over the former Selig Studio in what was known as Edendale on the outskirts of Los Angeles.  Two years later because of their great success they outgrew their small studio and moved to 5-1/2 acres at Western Avenue and Sunset Boulevard and expanded again to the east side of Western.  Between 1916 and 1925, Fox produced 660 films until again they expanded westward on Pico Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Fox’s corporate headquarters remained on Western.

It was not long before the land surrounding the studio was filled with apartment buildings and neighborhoods of California bungalows to accommodate the burgeoning industry.  Many of those neighborhoods remain intact today housing new arrivals from the Phillipines, Armenia, Thailand and South America and employees at Los Angeles City College and the many hospitals within its borders.

Los Angeles Children’s Hospital moved to its “remote” location in 1906 and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson inaugurated its new facility.  Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, originally Hollywood Hospital , was constructed on adjacent property in 1924 and in 1953 Kaiser Permanente joined this impressive healthcare triumvirate.  Heathcare delivery to a vast Los Angeles population is now one of Hollywood’s three economic engines; the other two being tourism and the entertainment industry.

Abutting the community of Los Feliz, East Hollywood shares Olive Hill, the location of famed Frank Lloyd Wright designed Hollyhock House.  In 1923 oil heiress Aline Barnsdall envisioned a utopian community of artists living and creating on bucolic Olive Hill.  Her plan was short lived but today Barnsdall Art Park is a cultural crown jewel of the area.  .  At the base of the Art Park, fronting Vermont Avenue, is Barnsdall Square, the largest shopping plaza in East Hollywood.  Nearby, the Center for Inquiry established a bastion of free thought through the generosity of entertainer Steve Allen.  It’s theatre ­­­bears his name.

Sacred Fools TheatreBarnsdall Art ParkVermont & Sunset Metro Station

Few realize that Los Angeles City College was the first campus of the University of California at Los Angeles.  When the Pacific   

Electric Interurban Railroad connected downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood in 1909, the area began to develop rapidly. In 1914, the LA Board of Education, moved the teacher's Normal School to the site. The Italian Romanesque campus became what is now the University of California, Los Angeles in 1919. In need of more space, UCLA moved to its present location in 1929 and the LA Board of Education bought the site for $700,000. On September 4, 1938, Los Angeles Junior College opened its doors for the first time with over 1,300 students and 54 teachers. It later changed its name to Los Angeles City College .  

Among its most notable alumni are actors Alan Arkin, Billy Barty (who founded Little People of America), Barbara Billingsley, James Coburn, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Mark Hamill, Cindy Williams and Jo Ann Worley, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, composers Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams, music producers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, jazz great Charles Mingus, conductor Leonard Slatkin, architect Frank Gehry, Nobel Prize winning economist Lawrence Klein and poet and author Charles Bukowski. Today it is connected to the Metro subway with a station steps away from the campus.  On Saturdays and Sundays, the LACC Swap Meet offers a variety of bargains, operating on one of the larger parking lots of the campus, while nearby, on historic Route 66, during 6 days a week (closed on Tuesdays), the Uni Discount Swap Meet offers over 65 “mini-stores,” under one roof for shoppers.

While the world is aware of film as one of East Hollywood’s longest contributions, the work of the Braille Institute founded in 1919 by J. Robert Atkinson, a Montana cowboy accidentally blinded learns Braille and begins transcribing books for his personal library.  In less than five years, he has transcribed a million words and in 1924 completes printing of the bible in revised Braille. Atkinson's lobbying efforts result in federal legislation to fund the printing and national distribution of raised-print materials through the Library of Congress Services for the Blind. The institute moved to its present location on Vermont next to LACC in 1933 and in 1938 Braille Institute produces the first braille Webster's dictionary. It’s impossible to count the number of people the institute and its activities have benefitted.

The spiritual as well as physical aspects aren’t overlooked with both the Self Realization Foundation and headquarters for Scientology are well established within East Hollywood

 

An Apsonsi marking the entrance to Thai Town.   

With the renewed emphasis on Los Angeles neighborhoods, East Hollywood is emerging as a vital part of the city.  Known for its successful melding of various ethnicities, its cares for and educates a new generation.  It’s businesses such as Linoleum City continue to supply Hollywood’s entertainment industry with flooring treatments for productions and red carpet events. Many businesses, such as Armen Realty, remain in long standing East Hollywood locations that are passed from generation to generation.  It’s vibrant business community is served by the emerging East Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and the East Hollywood Business Improvement District.

Planning to stay a while? On Hollywood Boulevard, near the corner of Western Avenue, the recently refurbished  Dixie Hollywood (renamed  honoring a family member) and diner, is located in Thai Town steps from the Metro.  A bit south, on Vermont Avenue, the Hollywood Hotel/The Hotel of Hollywood is conveniently located with easy access to LACC, Red Line stations and Hollywood's largest medical facilities. Its General Manager, Jeff Zarrinnam is one of the neighborhood's chief boosters.

In recent years, thanks to the efforts of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council, residents have focused on the importance of bicycles in the city and each year present the ArtCycle event with riders touring various galleries and cultural locations in a day long celebration of two-wheelers.

Cafe 50's is a fun, campy dining experience.       Block Party celebrating ArtCycle.

With a population of just over 48,000 residents, East Hollywood is a 1.8 square-mile community adjacent to central Hollywood, Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Koreatown. One of the most culturally diverse communities — if not the most culturally diverse community, it is home to Little Armenia, Thai Town commercial district and El Salvadoran communities. It is also home to many Mexican, Filipino, Guatemalan, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Eastern European and Middle Eastern residents and businesses. Because of this cultural diversity, East Hollywood offers a veritable food paradise comprising of countless ethnic restaurants and bakeries.

In summation, East Hollywood and its adjacent communities is where you go to experience the “real” not reel Los Angeles.  It’s roots are deep and reach into many cultures.  This is where you will truly discover Hollywood. DH