On a recent expedition to discover some potential blog post sites in Downtown LA, I noticed that there were signs lining the streets directing people to different areas of the city: the Jewelry District, the Financial District, Chinatown, and numerous others. Downtown Los Angeles is mapped into numerous neighborhoods that are segregated by business type or specialty. I wanted to break down a few of the more well known districts, discover how they came to be, and find the possible unknown history that might have been lurking under each.
The Financial District
The Financial District is home to corporate office skyscrapers and hotels, as well as banks, law firms, and other services.
The seperation of these companies from the rest of the city allows the more elite members who have to come to work in the bustling city to be separated from the normal or so called “evil” activity that might be taking place in other areas of the city. It is a safe(er) and more secluded area, as it is geographically surrounded by somewhat more well-off areas of the city. This allows the people who work here to avoid any people they would rather not be associated with and to leave any problems that other people might be facing outside their door.
The Fashion District
The Fashion District is the hub of the apparel industry and is home to design, warehouse, and distribution centers of the clothing, accessories and fabric industry. Santee alley originally served as an area that serviced the back doors of manufacturing and wholesale businesses; these businesses would open retail outlets on their back doors a few days a week. These operations grew into full-time businesses transformed the alley into a bazaar. This, however, led to a high crime rate and multiple black market types of dealings.
In 1995, a group of business owners established an improvement district to improve the distraught neighborhood. In 1996 the new group formally changed the name of the Garment District to the Los Angeles Fashion District. I feel like at its core, changing the name of this area to something much more seemingly high-end rather then a common name reflects the desire to change the appearance of the entire area itself.
The Toy District
This small area of downtown is considered to be one of the more “culturally diverse” areas of LA because of its multilingualism. This area of the city alone is home to roughly five hundred toy and electronics related businesses. The smaller pastel-shaded buildings give it an air of innocence although it is anything but.
This area was part of skid row before it was officially deemed the toy district. Taiwanese and Vietnamese immigrants opened up the first toy stores in the early 1980s. There were several feuds when the matter of “cleaning up” the district came up, and the entire area was shut down for a while because of the obscene amounts of trash lining the streets.
Even today, this is still probably one of the most run-down and homeless populated areas of downtown, although it isn’t as heavily policed as some other places like Santee Alley has been in the past.
While I could go into detail about numerous other districts of Downtown Los Angeles, I feel that these four give a good description of the area overall. On a general note, I would say that this is a prime example of the segregation of a city and how it can affect the people living in it, for better or for worse. It is amazing to look at the extreme polarity between the upper-end business districts and the more slum-like ones.
** much of the research done on these districts was found on various Wiki pages