Abbot Kinney Blvd. Tribute or Marketing Ploy?

Abbot Kinney Boulevard, as we know it today, with its trendily designed storefronts, fashionable boutiques and culinary spots, was born in the 1970's. Once upon a time, Abbot Kinney Boulevard was known as Washington Boulevard, but was renamed after the neighborhood's founder, partly in tribute but also as a marketing ploy. The relaunch of Venice's main drag was the first step in the move towards greater commercialization.

A new Rodeo Drive with attitude where chain stores are not allowed to inhabit, based on neighborhood council ordinance. Abbot Kinney is the public face of the changes Venice underwent over the last quarter of the 20th century. Instead of the locally owned black barbershops and soul food joints such as Glencrest BBQ that once dotted Washington, the boulevard's new facade offers glossy goods and services for the movable creative class.

This week we'll talk to some of the business owners that manage to stay in place through the main drag's face-lift, hear from Venice High School students like Seliene Diarte, who lament the loss of mom-and-pop shops in the area, and listen to entrepreneurs like Roy Choi (founder of KOGI BBQ) who have capitalized and embraced the street's new born fame.

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