Leimert Park is a residential neighborhood in the South Los Angeles region of Los Angeles, California. It was developed in the 1920s as a master-planned community featuring Spanish Colonial Revival homes and tree-lined streets. It has become the center of both historical and contemporary African-American art, music, and culture in Los Angeles. The neighborhood is associated with the park of the same name.
Jefferson Park flanks Leimert Park to the north, the Exposition Park neighborhood and Vermont Square are to the east, Hyde Park to the south and View Park-Windsor Hills and Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw to the west. Leimert Park angles to the West Adams district on the northwest.
Leimert Park is bounded by Exposition Boulevard on the north, South Van Ness Avenue and Arlington Avenue on the east, West Vernon Avenue on the south, and Victoria Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard on the west.
Leimert Park is named for its developer, Walter H. Leimert, who began the subdivision business center project in 1928. He had the master plan designed by the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm managed by the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape designer known for Central Park in New York City and other major projects. Leimert Park was one of the first comprehensively planned communities in Southern California to be designed for upper and middle-income families. It was considered a model of urban planning for its time: automobile traffic near schools and churches was minimized, utility wires were buried or hidden from view in alleys, and densely planted trees lined its streets. Walter Leimert envisioned a self-sufficient commercial district community, with a town square, movie theater, transportation, and retail shopping. Leimert Park was considered a desirable community, and one of the first to have a Home Owners’ Association (HOA).
The Mediterranean Revival Style Leimert Park Theater (now renamed the Vision Theatre), is located at the south end of Leimert Park Village at 3341 West Forty-Third Place and Degnan Avenue. It was designed in 1931 by the architectural firm Morgan, Walls & Clements, and opened as a movie theatre on April 21, 1932. It is designated as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.
Initially settled primarily by European Americans, after World War II, some moved to other communities. Japanese Americans integrated Leimert Park in this period.
The Crenshaw Square Shopping Centre was inspired and designed in the style of Japanese architecture. Tak’s Coffee still operates on Crenshaw Boulevard. Elderly Japanese-American residents still live in Leimert Park, and some of the Japanese gardens still exist. African Americans began to integrate Leimert Park in the 1950s. Leimert and the neighboring Crenshaw District eventually became one of the largest black middle-class neighborhoods in the United States.
On December 14, 1963, a crack appeared in the Baldwin Hills Dam impounding the Baldwin Hills Reservoir. Within a few hours, water rushing through the crack eroded the earthen dam, gradually widening the crack until the dam failed catastrophically at 3:38 pm. Although the area had been evacuated after the crack had been discovered, several homes were destroyed, and most of Baldwin Vista and the historic Village Green community were flooded. The dam’s failure was ultimately determined to be the result of subsidence, caused by overexploitation of the Inglewood Oil field. The dam’s failure prompted the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to close and drain other small local reservoirs with similar designs, such as the Silver Lake Reservoir. The Baldwin Hills Dam was not rebuilt—instead, the empty reservoir was demolished, filled with earth, landscaped, and converted to Kenneth Hahn Regional Park.
During the summer of 1985, an arsonist started a brush fire along La Brea Avenue. The fire spread up the canyon towards the expensive homes along Don Carlos Drive in the Baldwin Hills Estates tract. Many homes were destroyed despite the efforts of the Los Angeles Fire Department to suppress the flames. The fire killed three people and destroyed 69 homes; the arsonist was never caught.
Baldwin Hills is bounded by La Cienega Boulevard to the west, Crenshaw Boulevard to the east, Stocker Avenue to the south and Rodeo Road to the north with Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard forming the northeast dividing line between Baldwin Hills and Crenshaw Manor. It is bordered on the west by Culver City and it shares the eastern border of Crenshaw Boulevard with Leimert Park.
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook is located at 6300 Hetzler Road in Culver City, CA. The 8.5-acre (3.4 ha) park is open daily from 8 a.m. to sunset. The Visitor Center is open Thursday–Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The park includes an amphitheater, drinking water, the Evan Frankel Discovery Center, gardening boxes, picnic tables, a permeable parking lot ($6), toilets, and walking paths with a central feature known as the Culver City Stairs. The Visitor Center has a comprehensive guide to the native plants of the area and history of Culver City. On a clear day, the Overlook’s platform offers exceptional views spanning the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Hollywood Sign to the north, and downtown Los Angeles to the east.
The show is very similar in nature to such MTV programs as Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, The Hills, and the online series The Suburbs, as it features African-Americans of upper-middle-class families who divide their time between attending school, playing sports, shopping at high-end stores, and driving expensive cars. The series lasted for three seasons.