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.

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Central American Migration
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Backyard Parties
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The Avenues
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Struggling Main Street
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Regeneración
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Arroyo Books
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Preservation

Rise of the Inner City Mural
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 social environment. The concept of the inner city that spread and multiplied across Los Angeles, from South L.A. to Compton, Venice and Highland Park, created a disenfranchised youth that found alternative ways of organizing and engaging with their “turf.”

Highland Park and its neighboring barrios - Cypress, Glassell and Frogtown - saw the rise of one of L.A.’s most notorious eastside gangs, The Avenues (Las Avenidas), which were ultimately dismantled in the late 1990s. Parallel to the rise of gang culture, however, an inquisitive generation of intermixed youth born and raised in Highland Park began to provide different ways to understand race, class, and culture. Community centers such as Regeneracion, although short lived, generated enough space for creativity and discussion that seeded the flourishing art scene in Highland Park today. Similarly the rise of backyard parties and DJ culture as well as the gradual embrace of punk and new wave sensibilities by young local hipsters began to signal a new cultural era.

The post-industrial inner city landscape of Highland Park’s built environment and the continued devaluation of property values, afforded a new wave of immigrants from Central-America a place to settle in, and in the process create a homegrown sense of urban renewal in the area. This, coupled with efforts by community activists, historians and government officials, paved the way for Highland Park to begin to reclaim the area for its historical and cultural heritage and regain its status as the bohemian capital of L.A.