East of What

this-is-not-the-eastside

It’s a debate as old as time. Or at least as old as Intelligentsia. Some people insist upon calling a large swath of Los Angeles “the Eastside,” which other people don’t think is actually “the Eastside.” This debate has raged on websites, at events, in person, even here on this very blog. Some say “the Eastside” starts east of the Los Angeles River. Others claim it starts somewhere around Western Avenue (that would make sense, right?). Others ask, “East of what?”

But no one—to my knowledge—has ever tried to make an official and binding declaration for where the Eastside is. Until last night.

The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council (my neighborhood, y’all) spent a large part of their agenda last night deciding whether or not Silver Lake was considered “the Eastside.” Curbed LA liveblogged the meeting, quite hilariously I might add, and folks chimed in immediately on Twitter with their thoughts.

 

Personally, I think my neighborhood has other, larger issues to address (like the fact that everyone incorrectly spells it Silverlake… can we get a ruling on that???), but as someone who runs a nonprofit called design east of La Brea, I do have some thoughts on the matter.

First, a geography lesson, for those who have no idea what I’m talking about:

eastsidemap

The issue at hand is that some neighborhoods, specifically Los Feliz, Silver Lake and Echo Park all have, in recent years, by various parties, been referred to as “the Eastside.” Many people think that calling that area “Eastside” (which I guess is a newer thing, like in the last 20 years or so) is insulting to the generations of Angelenos who established the culture traditionally known as “Eastside,” which originates more towards the actual area named East LA, but has come to encompass many neighborhoods like Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights and many other heights. These advocates would prefer that you equated “Eastside” with “East of the LA River” (although this logic doesn’t totally work because the LA River takes a sharp turn just north of this map and runs East-West. So you’d have to say, “East of the LA River below Griffith Park and above somewhere before Long Beach” or something—I don’t know).

I’ve marked some areas on the map for additional East/West context. Downtown is right there at the center, and in most cities, the downtown is used to define the “East” and “West” parts of the city. In fact, Broadway, which runs a Northeast/Southwest path through Downtown, is where the addresses change from W. to E. [Update: I was wrong, it's actually Main, two blocks away.] I also added two streets, Western and Eastern, which were actually named two centuries ago when they represented the city’s boundaries and don’t mean much now but boy is that fun to look at or what?

As you can see, on pretty much all these counts, there’s nothing really “east” about Silver Lake. Silver Lake is actually WEST of downtown, which I would say already disqualifies it from being Eastside. Some might say that Silver Lake deciding NOT to be “Eastside” is almost a move to make themselves seem more “Westside,” which should have people living in West LA preeeeetty outraged, if you ask me.

While I’m not sure the “ruling” will solve anything (people have their own definitions of neighborhoods and places and those are tough to change), over at LA Observed, Kevin Roderick brings up another important issue:

Calling Silver Lake and environs the Eastside certainly has its fans, and not just among urban enthusiasts who need a label to fill out the anti-Westside narrative and those other newbies whose grasp of Los Angeles’ construction and backstory is so thin they just see west, east and middle. Silver Lake, Los Feliz and Echo Park share enough distinction in common that, despite claiming barely a sliver of the city’s four million population, I’d lump them together as a mini-region if only there were an a useful and adequate name for the place. They don’t belong to downtown, Hollywood or the real Eastside — and the term many like, Faux Eastside, will never catch on. I’ve yet to hear a suggestion that feels real enough to work for both the newbies and for deeper-rooted Angelenos, but I’m still hopeful something will bubble up with more authenticity (and specificity) than Eastside.

It’s funny because when I tell people why I live here, I say something like that. I don’t just live in the walkable, small-town-ish Silver Lake neighborhood, I feel like I live in this three-neighborhood corridor, which pretty much offer all the services I need within a two-mile radius from my house. When people ask me where I live, I always just say Silver Lake, but it might be cool to tell them I consider myself a resident of this entire three-neighborhood region.

And, as we know, people love putting labels on things. So to appease the Eastside proponents, and to help everyone else understand a little more about Los Angeles, I’ve come up with some alternate names for This Area that is Not the Eastside.

New Names for the Los Feliz-Silver Lake-Echo Park Mini-Region

  • Felivecho
  • LoFeSiLaEcPa
  • The West Bank (all three neighborhoods border the west bank of the LA River)
  • Three Lakes District (named for the area’s three lakes: Rowena Reservoir, Silver Lake, Echo Park Lake)
  • Sunset Corridor (named for the street that links all three neighborhoods)
  • East Sunset
  • Sunset Heights
  • Sunset Triangle (both named for the plaza at the center of the region, and for the triangle you make when you draw an area encompassing all three neighborhoods)
  • 101 East
  • The 2/4/704 (named for three buses you can take to get to all three neighborhoods)
  • Red Line West (the neighborhoods in relation to the nearest subway line)
  • Griffith-Elysian (named for the two large parks at either ends of the region)
  • Stairway District (these neighborhoods have the highest concentration of public stairways in the city; would also bring tourism to the area)
  • Coffee District (like the Bicycle District, this area could be known for coffee, or perhaps the Juice District)
  • The Cut (this a very old name for a section of Sunset between Echo Park and Silver Lake where crews blasted away the rock to create a mini-canyon so the road could go through)
  • Edendale (this is an older name for a part of Silver Lake where the film studios were once located, but I don’t think many people associate it with the actual place anymore so it could be reappropriated for all three neighborhoods, which all had film activity; again, would get attention from tourists and history buffs)
  • West Eastside
  • Hipsteria
  • East of What
  • Near Eastside (like Chicago’s Near North, by Pat Saperstein/@EatingLA)
  • Eastside Lite (by Shawna Dawson)
  • Trastevere (by Adam Baer/@glassshallot)
  • Eastside Adjacent (by Jeff Miller)
  • The Mideast Side (by Eric Brightwell, who even has a map, and a very good explanation)
  • Tri-Hipster Area/Tri-Hip (by Seamus Garrity/@masterofleisure)
  • LosSilverDale (by Ed Fuentes/@viewfromaloft)
  • The Weastside (by Ed Fuentes/@viewfromaloft)
  • Brooklyn West (by Avishay Artsy/@heyavishay)
  • Silver Monica (by Dan Koeppel/@bigparadeLA)
  • The Upper East Side (by Tom Marble)
  • Silver Lake Alps (by Larry Gassan)
  • Charneyville (by Mike Kessler/@mikekessler)
  • Steampunk Row (by Mike Kessler/@mikekessler)
  • Williamsburg West (by Mike Kessler/@mikekessler)

Let me know what you think and add yours in the comments or ping me on Twitter to add!

Top image: LA Eastside

This entry was posted in building, riding, walking and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • https://www.facebook.com/Pendersleigh.and.sons.cartography Eric Brightwell

    The Mideast, or Mideast side. Interestingly, it’s the original Westside but no one thinks of it as the Westside anymore (well, the local gangs do, I suppose, and perhaps people who only divide the city into two regions). Los Angeles’s western border was formerly Hoover, which is why when one crosses it into Midtown, all of the streets reorient to follow the American grid system rather than the Spanish one.

    https://www.facebook.com/not.the.eastside

  • heatherparlato

    i’ve only ever answered this question from a lexical point of view, which is to say that during my lifetime, the neighborhoods east of hollywood have been called the east side, by everyone i’ve known here. not to be confused with east los angeles, which is a city east of the river. it’s not just the last 20 years, but it’s definitely not a terribly old tradition. and it’s probably not done by people in east los angeles, but people in generally-central / greater LA, who see hollywood as their center of travel. i’m not saying it’s right or what should happen, but it is what has happened.

    but so, when the question comes up and i see people arguing about where the east side “should” be, or what borders seem to be the right place for it, i usually chime in that if we’re asking “what it is,” it’s not about us deciding, we’re talking about an unofficial terminology that’s been going on for at least 30 years. i usually add that i’m not against figuring out where it should be and helping get it right, but my experience of living here my whole life has been that even parents at my elementary school who lived in los feliz talked about their neighborhood as part of “the east side.”

  • Alissa

    Eric I had never seen that before! Thank you for making that!

  • https://www.facebook.com/Pendersleigh.and.sons.cartography Eric Brightwell

    Of course!

  • John K

    This may be pretty boring, but why not “Central Los Angeles”? I consider anything east of La Brea, west of the110, north of Adams and/or the 10, south of the LA River. Based on out city’s history, Downtown is its own region, while Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights remain the “true and historic Eastside. East Los Angeles, is not techincally part of the City of L.A. thus not considered part of any “side.”

    For reference, anything south of the 10 but east of the Baldwin Hills is South Los Angeles. North of the 10 and West of La Brea to the Santa Monica border is the Westside. Venice and Westchester are the outliers (perhaps the Coastal region).

  • Abby

    Interesting article and discussion, as always. It is nice to know the history and the map puts it in different context, making it clear that the area deserves a new name. When I’m on the Westside I refer to where I live (Hollywood) and “back home” as the Eastside, but when I’m at home I refer to each neighborhood by its name.

  • Bill C.

    How about Mococahuenga? I’ve also seen it as “Mocohuenga” but the former seems to be more broadly used. It’s what the Gabrielinos called Fern Dell. It doesn’t refer to the whole area (and maybe it’s too similar to Cahuenga) but the historical aspect is appealing.
    The list is great. Among those I vote for West Eastside.
    Love that Mideast Side map too! I didn’t know that about the grid, and always wondered, frequently while sitting at a red light at Wilshire and Hoover.

  • Alissa

    Amazing, I had no idea! Such great history.

  • https://www.facebook.com/Pendersleigh.and.sons.cartography Eric Brightwell

    The original borders of Los Angeles roughly correspond to Hoover on the west, Exposition on the south, Indiana on the East, and Fountain to the north. The Spanish had strict and amusing rules about city layouts — they needed to be far from the coast* so that they weren’t in danger of pirate attacks (which is why Los Angeles wasn’t a coastal city for over a century until it annexed Wilmington and San Pedro), near a good source of fresh water (the LA River — although at the time of Spanish Conquest it flowed to the Santa Monica Bay instead of the San Pedro Bay), and the streets are oriented diagonally — which allows the sun to hit all sides. Once the city expanded beyond the Spanish borders, the streets were generally oriented along the cardinal directions.

    I think that San Diego and San Francisco being situated on the water had to do with their embarcaderos.

  • https://www.facebook.com/Pendersleigh.and.sons.cartography Eric Brightwell

    It is definitely Central Los Angeles — but so are Midtown and Hollywood.

    People in Hollywood have that regional label (saving them from from naming every neighborhood in Hollywood e.g. Little Armenia, Thai Town, Franklin Village, Dayton Heights, Virgil Village, Beachwood Canyon, Yucca Corridor, Whitley Heights, Outpost Estates).

    People in Midtown have that regional label (saving them from having to name every neighborhood in their region including Miracle Mile, Koreatown, Little Bangladesh, Sycamore Square, Picfair Village, Larchmont, Hancock Park, Windsor Square, Little Ethiopia, Arlington Heights, Vineyard, etc).

    I don’t think that most people who call the neighborhoods between Hoover and the Los Angeles River “The Eastside” are trying to co-opt that name — they just don’t know what else to call it and, in most cases (sadly), have probably never been to the real Eastside.

  • sbtaylor

    I’m not sure defining the Eastside as east of the LA River has made much sense since the early 20th century when downtown really was the center of the city. The center of gravity has moved west in the last hundred years. Maybe we can all agree that Silver Lake may not be part of the Eastside but that it’s certainly part of the eastside.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    Technically, isn’t Main Street where the numbering system divides between east and west?

  • Alissa

    Oops, you’re right! Someone told me it was Broadway once and I didn’t bother to check. Only two blocks difference but YES you are right!

  • heatherparlato

    if we’re naming things, i like “east sunset” best. it’s a good description of what & where it is, and the street that unites it.

    if we called it “101 east” it should really be “THE 101 east” so we can celebrate our southern california-ness for the world to see.

    i love the stairway district, but that leaves out highland park, which is home to many stairs. i also love the focus on lakes, but it would be sad to name one area after lakes when 2 out of 3 are actually reservoirs and we have cool parks with lakes just outside this area on both sides.

    i feel compelled to say: i can’t condone anything with the word hipster. only old people who resent youth culture say that word. while it’s funny to some, it’s shortsighted to call a neighborhood after the types that currently live there. it creates an unnecessary sense of otherness and name-calling. we haven’t done it with race or sexual orientation in neighborhoods of high population concentrations for good reasons, no need to start now.

  • Bill C.

    That’s great info, are there links where one can read more?
    I lived in San Diego for several years. The streets there also vary between running N/S and E/W vs. diagonally — it’s diagonal in Old Town where they built the presidio, I believe.

  • agorabum

    Central LA is already taken – as in “south central”.
    Since LA stretches down to San Pedro, central is really more around Western and the 10.

  • agorabum

    Yes, this. Take a map of the city, draw a line down the middle. To the left is west, to the right is east. 150 years ago, Silverlake didn’t exist, but if it did, it would be west. Today, with the expansion of the City out to Venice and the Ventura County border in the valley, Silverlake is clearly on the eastern half of the City.

  • agorabum

    The “eastside” is large; the eastern half of the city. If you look at a big map, Hollywood/Fairfax/Mid-Wilshire seems to be the middle.
    http://maptitude1.tumblr.com/image/63734294448
    So Silverlake is still the eastside.
    East Sunset works for east hollywood / silverlake / EP – since Sunset runs all the way through the Pacific Palisades. But East Sunset is just a more discrete measurement, it’s a area within the greater “Eastside”

  • heatherparlato

    that’s always the way we referred to it.

  • https://www.facebook.com/Pendersleigh.and.sons.cartography Eric Brightwell

    The map trick would be great if the city were merely divided into two halves but it isn’t, except by the geographilcally bipolar.

    Just as Los Angeles is a city without a single “center,” it’s a city that resists division into two halves. That’s why no one say, “I live in the east half” and that’s why no one thinks of Sunland as the Eastside or San Pedro as the Westside.

    Yes, the city has moved west — which is why the Westside has moved with it. The Eastside hasn’t moved east since El Sereno was annexed a century ago. It would be weird if there were Los Angeles communities east of the Eastside that were part of some other region but there aren’t, so I see no need to redefine it.

  • https://www.facebook.com/Pendersleigh.and.sons.cartography Eric Brightwell

    Which is, funny enough, why folks in South Los Angeles living west of it claim the Westside and those east of it claim the Eastside.

  • https://www.facebook.com/Pendersleigh.and.sons.cartography Eric Brightwell

    Sorry — not embarcadero — the presidio!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_the_Indies

  • https://www.facebook.com/Pendersleigh.and.sons.cartography Eric Brightwell

    “South Central” is derived from South Central Avenue, not the centrality and southernness of its location within the city. From 1910 until the end of the enforcement of racist housing codes South Central Avenue (aka the Central Avenue Corridor) was the home of almost all of Los Angeles’ black population.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    And I’ve always assumed that Central Avenue owes its name to the same thing that named Western and Eastern. Was there some point at which the boundaries of the city were Western and Eastern, and Central was right in the middle? Or is that just too clean an interpretation of what a messy history might have looked like?

  • Kenny Easwaran

    I like the idea of calling this region the Mideast Side. Mainly because it also suggests that we can solve the dilemma of whether the West Side starts at La Cienega or the 405 by saying that everything in between is the Midwest Side.

  • Echo Park Forums

    Why don’t people from Silverlake just call It SILVERLAKE?

    Calling it the Eastside is simply inaccurate…just because someone has moved eastward from some place in the west side does not mean it Becomes the Eastside.

    Like if an Angeleno moved to Chicago….it wouldn’t be right to all of a sudden start calling it the Eastside. It will still be the Midwest.

    DTLA is the center of our city….not La Brea or Western or anything between Silverlake and the west side.

  • Echo Park Forums

    Neighborhoods east of Hollywood are simply east of Hollywood. Hollywood is not the downtown of Los Angeles.

    LA was founded in downtown’s historic plaza district. It has spiraled out since. Calling anything east of Hollywood Eastside is ridiculous.

  • Echo Park Forums

    If not the river then definitely something like the 110 freeway divides the city, or streets like Main.

  • Echo Park Forums

    Yes.

  • Echo Park Forums

    Yes that is more accurate.

  • sbtaylor

    Definitions are based on consensus, and consensus can change over time.

  • thomas daniels

    I’m not from LA and horrible at geography but that Mideast Side map looks appears to be a bad drawing of the Pope (in the act of blessing someone, perhaps.) You could just call it The Pope. (Mideast conjures unrest for me.)

  • xiaju
  • Fakey McFakename

    Didn’t Curbed have a thing about calling it North Central?