Echo Park, Los Angeles, California

From Academic Kids

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The lake in Echo Park. In the foreground are lotus plants, in the background is the skyline of downtown Los Angeles.

Echo Park is a district of Los Angeles located northwest of downtown. It is east of Silver Lake, south of Atwater Village.

Echo Park was named Edendale before the construction of the park itself; the local U.S. Post Office and a public library branch are still named Edendale.

Echo Park was the original center of the film industry in Los Angeles, before the studios moved to Hollywood just before World War I. Mack Sennett's studio was located in Echo Park until the end of the silent era, and a large number of silent comedies were shot in the neighborhood. Some of the earliest screen performers, including Gloria Swanson, bought homes in the Angelino Heights neighborhood before also moving to Hollywood and other areas. The area has continued to be used as a location for films such as Farewell, My Lovely, Echo Park, and Mi Vida Loca. The area is popular with modern filmmakers for the pre-World War II look of some districts. The 1960s television series Gilligan's Island was also shot in the area.

Before World War II Echo Park was a middle class neighborhood, nicknamed "Red Hill" for a concentration of political radicals living there. Postwar flight to the suburbs resulted in Echo Park becoming overwhelmingly Latino; although other ethnic groups have always had a presence in the neighborhood. Many working-class Chinese immigrants have settled in Echo Park due to its proximity to Chinatown, Los Angeles, California.

A pelican and the lotus flowers at Echo Park Lake, circa 1920.
A pelican and the lotus flowers at Echo Park Lake, circa 1920.
The commercial district along Sunset Boulevard suffered greatly in the 1950s from the condemnation of the residences in nearby Chavez Ravine to build Dodger Stadium. The area in the immediate vicinity of the park itself became seriously beset by problems with drugs and gangs in the 1970s and 1980s. The hilly northern part of the district that is adjacent to Elysian Park is called "Elysian Heights" and has always maintained a gentile character. In recent years the lower areas closer to Sunset Boulevard has been undergoing gentrification as the area has become popular with young, struggling musicians and other aspiring entertainment industry workers priced out of many neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

Local attractions include the eponymous Echo Park, with a small lake. The park is the site of the annual Lotus Festival, a pan-Asian celebration with Chinese dragon boat races. It attracts Asian Americans as well as other local residents. There is also a Cuban festival held on the birthday of Cuban poet and patriot JosÚ MartÝ, who has a statue in the park. Bordering the park are the cathedral of the Episcopalian diocese of Los Angeles and the famous Angelus Temple, a large Foursquare Gospel church built by Aimee Semple McPherson in 1923. The Echo Park Film Center attracts film buffs. Currently, Echo Park is home to many unique grass-roots businesses such as the Fuct clothing store and art gallery on Sunset in the historic Jensen building near Echo Park Blvd, Sea Level Records, an indie-rock record store on Sunset at Lemoyne, and Blank, a innovative punk rock couture clothing store and art print house, below the Downbeat Cafe at the corner of Sunset and Alvarado. Truly, a unique area of Los Angeles.


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