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Silver Lake Council Considers Shunning "Eastside" Label

It was almost 10 years ago that a now-defunct weekly publication covering Silver Lake and Echo Park promised to celebrate "the new Eastside."

It was a crass attempt at putting a stamp on the area's hipster gentrification, though it probably didn't mark the first time "Eastside" was applied to the neighborhood. People were using the term to describe the community since at least the 1990s.

See also: Eastside vs. Westside: 5 Ways of Looking At It.

Fast forward to 2014: Some Silver Lake locals are sick of it and want to declare that use of the label is "incorrect" when referring to this area northwest of downtown Los Angeles:

Tonight the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council will vote on a motion to declare that "Silver Lake is not located in the 'East Side' of Los Angeles nor is it accurate to refer to Silver Lake as an 'East Side' neighborhood or community."

Dorit Dowler-Guerrero co-wrote the proposal. She tells us, "it's one of the things I've been wanting to do:"

I know the history of L.A. and I know Silver Lake is not the Eastside.

She said she and co-author Anne-Marie Johnson, "would both get pissed off and grumble at board meetings when people would refer to Silver Lake as the Eastside."

The motion states:

Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles and Lincoln Heights have historically been designated as communities located east of the Los Angeles River, yet over the past few years, the term "the east side" has been incorrectly applied to describe Silver Lake and surrounding communities. The incorrect labeling of Silver Lake as the "east side" disregards generations of people who shaped both of these rich, distinct and vibrant communities. 

Silver Lake is the Eastside of the Westside, if the Westside is the center of your universe. But as we've argued before, the historic Westside starts at Main Street downtown and goes west from there. 

See also: Zooey Deschanel Says She's No Westsider.

Gangs that have operated in places such as Silver Lake and Echo Park and even in Pico-Union, just west of downtown, have used the "W.S." (West Side) acronym in their tags for decades.


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It wasn't until the beginning of gentrification, it seems to us, when hipsters wanted to distinguish their more central, urban surroundings from the Westside suburbia, that Eastside was used to describe this neighborhood west of downtown.

Of course, some folks in the traditional east-of-downtown Eastside, including Boyle Heights, Highland Park and El Sereno, were offended.

Neighborhood Council members are prohibited from tallying votes before a motion is discussed, but Dowler-Guerrero told us she hasn't heard much negative feedback from her community.

The only criticism she's received has been from online "trolls," she said, "calling you names."

So long as they don't call her an Eastsider.

The Neighborhood Council meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the Micheltorena Elementary School auditorium: 1511 Micheltorena St.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.


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