Like the El Pueblo Del Rio housing project in Watts, the Lincoln Place Apartments in Venice were built to address not only the post World War II housing shortage but also to provide homes for thousands of Americans that had moved from the South to California in search of their own part of the American Dream. These two projects were both built by prominent African-American architects, Paul Williams and Ralph Vaughn respectively, whose designs were infused by the modernist optimisms of the time: shared spaces, common green areas, community centers - all in favor of creating a "working-class" community that balanced space and responsibility.
Today, El Pueblo Del Rio, managed by the city's housing authority, has slashed many if not all, of its common community areas, leaving a desolate, eerie landscape that negates the original intentions of its designers while creating an atmosphere of fear and paranoia among many residents. Ironically, Lincoln Place is now barren. In 1988, the housing project changed owners and a systematic process of eviction began. Lincoln Place sits on one of the most valuable real-estate plots in California, and its new owner wanted to maximize profit by creating luxury condominiums. However intent, the residents of Venice are not easily persuaded, and although a third of the housing project was demolished and virtually all of its residents evicted from their homes - only 11 remain on the premises - ten years of community tenant organizing has finally paid off. Thanks to Sheila Bernard and lawyer Amanda Seward, Lincoln Place has been deemed a Historical Architectural Landmark and its new owners, with the cooperation of tenants and community activists, are envisioning its rebirth.
A History of Lincoln Place
"Lincoln Place was diverse ethnically, by age and by class. It was unusual to find a community like this in L.A."
This place can house almost 800 families and there has always been a range of people and groups. It represents what Venice is and preserves that for the future.