People of Northeast Los Angeles: Luis Lopez

My name is Luis Lopez.

I have an automotive repair shop on Fletcher Drive, on the corner of Fletcher and Atwater Avenue. Well I think there's a sense of community, I mean there's very defined boundaries in Atwater. You know when you, for the people that live here or work here you know when you're in Atwater and you know when you're outside of Atwater. Obviously the river plays an important portion of that boundary 'cause we know when we cross over. We cross over through hipsterville over there in Silver Lake. We have very clear boundaries. We have the river and then we have the railroad tracks on the other side. So I mean when you drive out I mean there's a sense that you're outside, and when you come in there's a sense that you're in your community.

We also have a lot of people that have lived here for many generations, much more than I have. And they're still here. Their kids are still here. They keep buying houses here, so we still have a lot a lot of those people that have retained the character of Atwater.

Well the younger days when I got here in Atwater, in the nineteen nineties and I was mostly just working here at the shop. Working here at the shop learning the actual business and really interacting with the people. There are a lot of characters; there are just a lot of good people as well. Regular folk, working folk like me, working a nine to five job everyday, and have to wake up and work and if not you can't pay your bills.

There's a lot of big changes, but I'm somewhat of a Atwater history buff as well, so the changes seems to be kind of cyclical. Obviously for the past I would say five years we've seen some gentrification, I call them Westside refugees, they got priced out of the Westside and start to immigrate this way. And obviously Silver Lake is definitely which is our sister community, but they've gotten very expensive and so they're starting to move into Atwater. Young professionals, people from the movie industry. So those people have begun to change Atwater Village somewhat, but in a good way, and I don't believe in a bad way. We're still both a racially and economically diverse community. We have working folk living right next to people that are young professionals, side by side. And you can kind of tell the newcomers; you know nicer houses in terms of fixing it up. And the more working class folks just have you know just regular houses.

I mean that's what's nice about Atwater. You have a very nice healthy mix working class folks, lower income folks, and really much more affluent folks. It kind of gives a nice blend and allows for this kind of social mobility, I would say. You know kind of upward mobility, you know. The hipsters get a reality check when they try to do their hipster stuff here.


The above interview is transcribed and edited from the following interview:

About People of
Northeast Los Angeles
These are stories from the everyday people that make-up Northeast Los Angeles, particularly the neighborhoods of Atwater Village, Cypress Park, Glassell Park, Lincoln Heights, and Elysian Valley. See some of our featured portraits below, explore by neighborhood, or see all the stories.





About the Author

For the past twenty years, Chilean born Ricardo Palavecino has been developing his skills as a cinematographer working on documentaries, feature films, television shows, and commercials.
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