From the age of the Native Americans, through the birth of Arroyo Culture and Chicano activism, to the DIY ethos of today, Highland Park has always been a laboratory for new and emerging ideas on what it means to be an Angeleno. Numerous factors - including location and geography - created conditions that allowed the area to become one of the preeminent cultural and social centers of the West. One can argue that Los Angeles came of age in Highland Park, with artists, writers and intellectuals such as Charles Lummis creating the vocabulary on which we now rely when we try to explain what Los Angeles was and could be.

The creation of the Arroyo Seco Parkway and the channelization of the Arroyo Seco changed the character of the neighborhood. The era of the automobiles, along with "white flight," brought forth a demographic shift whose long term arc is still unfolding today. Now, the DIY, bohemian ethos that grew out of the neighborhood's early days is alive in the area again, while its diverse residents are coming to terms with what it means to live here and care for the shared, built environment.


Chapter 1 The Highlands
From the Tongva people to the Spaniards, we explore the shifts of power over land in the areas that became Highland Park.
Chapter 2 Arroyo Culture
The efforts of Arroyo artisans such as Charles Lummis and William Lee Judson came together to pioneer one of the first artistic and cultural movements to come out of Los Angeles.
Chapter 3 The Parkway
When the Arroyo Seco Parkway was finished in 1940 it was a cause for celebration in Los Angeles, but its arrival would have unexpected consequences for Highland Park.
Chapter 4 Brown and Proud
In the 1950s, a demographic shift began in Highland Park, reshaping and creating new vocabularies of resistance and pride within L.A.’s Latino and Mexican communities.
Chapter 5 Painting the Walls
The mid-1970s saw a number of Chicano artists and intellectuals move into Highland Park, which became ground zero for an emerging Mexican-American art movement that would gain widespread local attention and international exposure.
Chapter 6 Rise of the Inner City
The failed promises of the civil-rights era coupled with the economic disparities of the 1980s created a dual deterioration in Highland Park seen both in the built and the social environment.
Chapter 7 Reinterpreting Highland Park
As we settle into the new millennium, the Highland Park post-urban landscape is embracing all the twists, turns and contradictions that history has presented to the neighborhood.


Youth Voices is a digital literacy and civic engagement program that invites youth to explore their neighborhood and become active participants in all aspects of their community. Take a look at some of their work and the Youth Voices curriculum. READ MORE arrow

Field Guides

Be a tourist in your own backyard, explore the places and histories that make up our unique neighborhoods.