Our coverage of actress Zooey Deschanel's apparent diss of downtown and her subsequent argument that she's not a Westsider has renewed some debate about where the Westside begins in L.A. There's been a long-simmering argument, often centered around claims by (newer) Silver Lake and Echo Park residents that theirs is an Eastside community.
But we were called out for claiming (sort of, but we'll own it) that Deschanel's last known address, much further west, in Hancock Park, isn't exactly not the Westside, and that if you're west of downtown, you're technically on the city's west side.
So we phoned an expert, UCLA urban and cultural historian Eric Avila:
Main Street was called the Calle Principal by the Spanish settlers in the 18th century. Most Southwestern cities have a Calle Principal. It defines the historic spine of urban development. I would agree that, technically, everything west of Main Street I would call the Westside.
(We're paraphrasing our questions). And the hallmark of the Westside?
It "goes back to the naming of Western Avenue in the early decades of the 20th century," Avila says. "The presence of that street indicates that people were thinking Western was west."
So in the course of the 20th century people settled on the Westside and it became a center of wealth. Public discourse seems to migrate to where the wealth is and suddenly people tend to think the Eastside is west of those areas, which is historically totally inaccurate.
Where's Hancock Park?