Mapping the Untold Stories of Leimert Park

Departures is gearing up for production on the story of Leimert Park, 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 area has 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 1965, 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.

As part of our research, we are mapping important places that reflect the shifts and characteristics of the neighborhood. To better construct the narrative, we invite you, the community, to share stories, memories, and places of interest that you find important to include in the story of Leimert Park.

Using the form below, send us any story or ideas that may help tell the story of Leimert Park. Which places in the area are important to you, and why? Do you have any stories that relate to the neighborhood? Your contribution will help to enrich this upcoming installment of Departures!

To give you ideas to get you started, we've mapped a few locations that help shape our developing Leimert Park narrative. Click on an icon in the map above to learn more, and don't forget to share your own story via the form below.

Leimert Park | Photo: Paul Narvaez/Flickr/Creative Commons