From the age of the Native Americans, through the birth of Arroyo Culture and Chicano activism, to the DIY ethos of today, Highland Park has always been a laboratory for new and emerging ideas on what it means to be an Angeleno. Numerous factors - including location and geography - created conditions that allowed the area to become one of the preeminent cultural and social centers of the West. One can argue that Los Angeles came of age in Highland Park, with artists, writers and intellectuals such as Charles Lummis creating the vocabulary on which we now rely when we try to explain what Los Angeles was and could be.

The creation of the Arroyo Seco Parkway and the channelization of the Arroyo Seco changed the character of the neighborhood. The era of the automobiles, along with "white flight," brought forth a demographic shift whose long term arc is still unfolding today. Now, the DIY, bohemian ethos that grew out of the neighborhood's early days is alive in the area again, while its diverse residents are coming to terms with what it means to live here and care for the shared, built environment.