Leimert Park is a South Los Angeles neighborhood that for the past several decades has been considered a hub of African American arts and culture. From literature and poetry, to jazz and hip hop, the 1.2 square-mile neighborhood known as Leimert Park a unique creative energy that has given the area a reputation as "the black Greenwich Village," as noted by film director and resident John Singleton.
But it wasn't always that way. Originally built in the 1920s as a white middle-class planned community, Leimert Park, like many other neighborhoods in L.A. post-WWII, experienced what scholars describe as "white flight" -- when the prevalence of automobiles combined with the outlawing of racial covenants prompted many residents to "flee" to the newly developed suburbs. The area then became home to large Japanese and African American communities, and after the Watts turmoil of 1966, became a predominantly African American community.
Today, as the Metro Crenshaw Line is expected to include a stop in the neighborhood, Leimert Park is at a crucial moment in its history. Business owners and stakeholders struggle to keep the area's cultural heritage, while the hike in real state interest due to the Metro stop may push them out of their neighborhood.
Los Angeles is a sprawling city of many neighborhoods, each with its own unique set of people, places, and things that work together to create a distinct community. With so many layers of history and culture, the best way to begin to understand L.A. is to break it down into small bits, and peel back the layers, and reveal the depths of this complex city.
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