As the 1950s dawned, the demographic transformation commonly referred to as “white flight” began in earnest in Highland Park, the neighborhood becoming a bellwether for changes occurring throughout Los Angeles. But as one community moved out, new residents in search of cheaper rents and a place to call home transformed the face of Highland Park and, in the process, transformed what it meant to be an Angeleno as a whole.
When the Arroyo Seco Parkway was finished in 1940, it was a cause for celebration in Los Angeles. But the arrival of one of the nation’s first freeways would have unexpected consequences for Highland Park and its residents. After the scenic throughway was built, Highland Park entered a period of gradual but steady decline, the area trapped between two distinct geographies and political powers: Pasadena and Los Angeles. The Parkway, along with the devastating floods of 1938 and the subsequent channelization of the L.A River and the Arroyo, would shift the tenor of life in Highland Park from suburban Eden to inner city.