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Echo Park

Echo Park Lake now acts as the central hub of this East side neighborhood, North of downtown and South of Silver Lake. Reopened in 2013 after a two year remodel, the lake is a wonderful place to meet up friends, go paddle boating, grab lunch at the boat house, jog, catch a yoga class, or read a book on a bench alone. The possibilities are endless in Echo Park.

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On just about any street in Echo Park, you’ll see it lined with palm trees. My favorite architecture in the area are the world-famous Victorian homes in Echo Park’s Angeleno Heights, arguably one of our great city’s most charming and picaresque neighborhoods.

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Of course, Echo Park is also experiencing a modern home building boom. You’re just as likely to see a new build, or a mid-century modern, next to a craftsman or a Victorian or Spanish-style hacianda.

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Sunset Boulevard and Echo Park Avenue are both filled with shops, restaurants, bars, event and music venues, and more. On a typical free day, you may find me at one of my favorite stops, Origami Vinyl, browsing their stocked shelves of today’s and yesterday’s greatest artists. You may even bump into Cat Power or Ryan Gosling while perusing. Or Solange Knowles or Kim Gordon getting their hair cut at Lucas Salon.

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Authentic and delicious taco trucks abound in Echo Park. This one is usually parked outside of the newly opened Lassen’s Natural Foods.

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Across the street is The Echo Park Time Travel Mart, a tutoring center and storefront created by McSweeney’s, the nonprofit collective founded by Dave Eggers in San Francisco. Definitely stop in to see their time travel curiosities, and then stop by Stories Books and Cafe for a coffee and a book you’ve meaning to purchase. If Stories is closed, try the new Blue Bottle Coffee or longtime cafe Masa.

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I always try to get at least two or three Dodgers games in each season. The stadium is just up the hill from Elysian Park, but if you weren’t able to get tickets, plenty of bars in the neighborhood, like The Short Stop, Little Joy, and El Prado, host game nights, complete with drink specials!

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One of my favorite restaurants in Echo Park, and one, if not the, oldest and most classic restaurants in the area, is Taix. Pronunciations vary among the locals. It’s perfect for a private party, or catching some live music with friends.

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Echo Park is also well known for its many, many staircases. There are walking tours and, yes, even jogging tours of them all.

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And this is “Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles,” which means “Queen of the Angels,” but most folks in the neighborhood know her simply as the “Lady of the Lake.” She represents our country at its best and most unified and is unofficially Echo Park’s “patron saint.”

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Demographics

In 2008, the city estimated that Echo Park’s population had increased to 43,832. The median age for residents was 30, about the same as the city norm.

Echo Park was considered moderately diverse ethnically. The breakdown was Latinos, 64%; Asians, 18.8%; whites, 12.9%; blacks, 2%, and others, 2.3%. Mexico (41.3%) and El Salvador (15.2%) were the most common places of birth for the 53% of the residents who were born abroad, a figure that was considered high compared to the city as a whole.

The median household income in 2008 dollars was $37,708, a low figure for Los Angeles, and a high percentage of households earned $20,000 or less. The average household size of three people was about the same as the rest of the city. Renters occupied 76% of the housing units, and house or apartment owners the rest.

The percentages of never-married men and women, 46.8% and 38.3%, respectively, were among the county’s highest.

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Schools

  • Baxter Montessori, 2101 North Echo Park Avenue (private)
  • Berkeley Ave Children’s Center, 1814 Berkeley Ave.
  • Elysian Heights Elementary, 1562 Baxter Street (LAUSD). 
  • Clifford Street Elementary, 2150 Duane Street (LAUSD)
  • Mayberry Street Elementary, 2414 Mayberry Street (LAUSD)
  • Golden West Christian, 1310 Liberty Street (private)
  • Gabriella Charter, 1435 Logan Street (LAUSD)
  • Logan Street Span School, 1711 West Montana Street (LAUSD)Serving K to 8th grade
  • Rosemont Elementary, 421 N. Rosemont (LAUSD)
  • Betty Plasencia Elementary School, 1321 Cortez Street (LAUSD)
  • DC Academy, 626 Coronado Terrace (private)

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Film History

In the early 1910s, the film industry was centralized in Echo Park. Mack Sennett’s Keystone Studio was in Echo Park until the end of the silent era. Many silent comedies were shot here, such as several Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Our Gang, Ben Turpin, Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, Charley Chase, Chester Conklin, Three Stooges, films, as well as several Westerns in the hillsides of Echo Park.

The first of a string of silent film studios began operating along what is now Glendale Boulevard in a part of Echo Park then known as Edendale. Edendale’s most prominent movie company, Mack Sennett’s Keystone Studios is now an event venue and a Los Angeles historic monument.

The area has continued to be used as a location for films, such as, Chinatown, Echo Park, Kentucky Fried Movie, Mi Vida Loca, Tending Echo Park, Quinceanera, Columbus Day and Drive. The 1960s television series Gilligan’s Island was shot in the area as well as scenes in Michael Jackson’s 1983 music video Thriller, as were parts of the original 1953 film version of The War of the Worlds. The area is popular with modern filmmakers for the pre-World War II look of some districts.

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Architecture

As one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Echo Park has a lot of notable Victorian and craftsman homes. The greatest surge in growth for the area was between 1905 to 1935. Atwater Bungalows are a great example of interesting architecture to be found in the area. Built in 1922 on the top of a hill near Elysian Park, Robert Stacy-Judd built this Pueblo-style native american inspired building. More than two dozen public stairways line the hillsides, reflecting a time that was prior to the automobile. They have become a fan favorite of joggers in the area. Today, famous architects, such as Barbara Bestor, frequently build in the area.

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