When architectural historian Robert Winter coined the term "Arroyo Culture," he was referring to a bohemian cultural explosion that had occurred in Highland Park and Garvanza in the early 20th Century. These same conditions that allowed the area to emerge as one of the most important cultural centers of the city exist there today, including a celebration of nature, community and culture, and a strong affirmation of multiculturalism.
One could argue that it is precisely in communities such as Highland Park that the terms of Los Angeles' future configuration of culture, identity and built environment are being most effectively negotiated. Here, unlike other places in the city, the cyclical nature of our history has directly connected past and future in a way that works beyond nostalgia or neighborhood zealotry.
In 2003, Professor Robert Gottleib helped organize the ArroyoFest, an orchestrated and peaceful takeover of the Arroyo Seco Parkway. The goal was to connect the diverse communities along the Arroyo Seco corridor. That same year the Gold Line opened and once again residents of Highland park had a rail system that connected them to other urban areas. Both propose an alternative way to use urban infrastructure to reinvigorate the sense of place and community in our neighborhoods. Similarly, initiatives such as Milagro Alegro and Debs Park, which bring nature back into the community, may signal a return to a greener and more sustainable urban landscape. The dual immersion program at Aldama Elementary, is an attempt to bridge a cultural gap within the area's multi-cultural and economically diverse population, and could teach our city a lesson or two about how to educate future generations.
Much like Lummis, Judson, Percival and others who created the original arts culture of Highland Park, the residents who painted the walls in the '70s, congregated at Regeneración in the '90s, fought for the historical overlay zone at the turn of the millennium, and bombed a bus stop on York with homemade yarn just a few days ago, are all teaching us how to reconnect and participate in the city's present and future evolution.
Above, outdoor survival instructor and longtime Highland Park homeowner Christopher Nyerges describes the neighborhood's current renaissance; urban planner John Arroyo admires the civic-mindedness of Highland Park residents; local urban farmer and agricultural advocate Warren Ontiveros describes his love of Highland Park in context to being a homeowner with a family; District 14 councilman Jose Huizar describes positive changes in the Highland Park business sector.
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