310 vs. 213

213 vs 310

You might know that I am the co-host of an event series called design east of La Brea, or de LaB. We like to feature designers, architects, artists and various other urban instigators who are working, making and experimenting—you guessed it!—east of La Brea, one of the major north-south streets that bisects LA.

When my co-founder Haily Zaki and I were deciding on de LaB’s name in 2007, we knew we wanted to focus on the east side of LA. Not only because we were sick of hightailing it out to Santa Monica for all the architecture events, but also because we felt there was so much more interesting stuff happening over on the east side—activity that wasn’t necessarily on the radar of well-funded design organizations. Plus, the west side of LA seemed to have plenty of money to hold sleepy panel discussions and nicely catered receptions. The east side had less resources for big events, yet had so much enthusiasm for any kind of community-building activity.

However, we chose the demarcation line of La Brea rather randomly. I lived between Highland and La Brea at the time, so of course I wanted to count myself on the “good” side. And if you look at a map of the entire 500-square-mile city of Los Angeles, La Brea does fall at the physical midway mark. But it was honestly more of a gut reaction than anything—there’s something about crossing over parts of La Brea that, to me, just feels like you’re rolling into a different part of the city. Scrappy vs. established, maybe. And amazingly, that one little decision has been a serious point of contention. People honestly pull us aside and tell us why it actually should be design east of Vermont or design east of Highland. de Ver? de High?

But I quickly learned that this is one of those LA things that people will always want to brawl about discuss. Like the Venice residents who proudly declare themselves AWOL (always west of Lincoln), there are people who pride themselves on how rarely they cross Western (always east of Western?). And this has been going on for some time, according to this clip (above) from the LA Weekly circa 1988. They use Fairfax instead of La Brea, and this was, of course, before the 323 area code came about, but the sentiment remains the same: Some people are 310s and some people are 213s. And that’s just the way it is.

Thanks to Brian Lane, principal of Koning Eizenberg for sending this to me. And coincidentally, de LaB will be featuring Brian and Koning Eizenberg’s newest project, a remodel of the Best Western Hollywood Hills at our January 24 event. All are welcome, no matter what side of La Brea you live on.

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  • http://profiles.google.com/kellylynnwaters kelly waters

    love this

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=686943764 Michael Sylvester

    And of course the Koning Eizenberg office is in…
    Santa Monica.

  • helena

    I’m a 213! I am all about the East Side, but I don’t have a chip on my shoulder about it and I feel kind of ashamed about the ironic elitism some people show that way. Good stuff can come from anywhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jenbilik Jen Bilik

    I never realized that the East Side had “more
    interesting stuff happening” and more “enthusiasm for any kind of
    community-building activity,” nor that the west side of LA had “plenty of money to hold sleepy panel
    discussions and nicely catered receptions.” Can we be pro-LA without drawing artistic battle lines? Judging the West Side by Brentwood, etc., is like assessing the East Side based on the Hollywood Hills and Los Feliz.

  • Alissa

    Jen, I hope it was clear that’s exactly the reason I wrote this post—to get people to think about why we draw those highly personal lines through LA. In no way was I saying that events on the westside were bad—I’ve been to plenty of sleepy panel discussions all over the city! But I do think the economic disparity is real and it’s a big reason why the eastside is underserved when it comes to events. That’s why we’re doing what we do there.

    I think it’s okay for me, or anyone, to hold the opinion that there are more interesting things happening in our own neighborhoods. That’s why we live there, don’t we? But I like what Helena says about the “ironic elitism”—there is definitely an annoying eastside haughtiness that’s proliferated in the last few years. I agree that having pride for your neighborhood doesn’t have to mean bashing another one on the other side of town.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jenbilik Jen Bilik

    Re economic disparity with the West Side vs. East Side, I think there’s a question also of whether you’re including Culver City, El Segundo, Mar Vista, West LA, Torrance, etc. I actually think the events look better on the East Side, and most of the good museums are eastwards. I drool all the time over East Side events I’d love to attend were it not for the (often rush-hour) schlep (please, Metro, come west soon!). If I wanted to prioritize great art and culture events over what I love about Venice re day-to-day-life and being near the beach, I would move to the East Side. I do feel like there’s an East Side superiority complex, sort of a proletariat chic, that I think is beneath all the amazing people who live on the East Side—I love the term “ironic elitism.” And I don’t think a great organization like DeLAB needs to positively compare itself to a negatively depicted West Side in order to justify its totally amazing existence. But yes, we should all love and be boosters for our own neighborhoods! Long live YIMBY! And long live DeLAB!

  • Alissa

    Yes! And I definitely think the Expo Line and Purple Line will do wonders when it comes to uniting east and west! Or at least our ability to get from one side of town to the other! Thanks for your awesome comments.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jenbilik Jen Bilik

    And PS, forgot to mention, I love your blog and read every post even if I comment very little (maybe twice?). Consider me a dedicated lurker.

  • Alissa

    Thank you Jen! I appreciate it!