Welcome to Los Angeles. Now tell us where you are.
If you're not quite sure, you're not alone. This city's neighborhood names are more confusing than an Obamacare enrollment session. The problems are manifold: some homeowner and business groups want to break away from blighted zones, while others want to celebrate ethnic pride — and the City Council is eager to honor their requests, even as neighborhood councils get their own shot at what community names are officially represented at City Hall.
Check out our list of ten L.A. neighborhoods with more than one name:
10. Mid-Wilshire. The Mid-Wilshire name doesn't exist in our Thomas Guide map, and it doesn't exist in the city's database of Neighborhood Councils. Instead, it's a more generic stand-in for places that have specific boundaries along Wilshire Boulevard, from Miracle Mile to Park Mile, Koreatown to Westlake.
But while we couldn't find any boundaries for it in city documents, the Los Angeles Times, interestingly, does have it on the map as a community that overlaps with many others. Our judgment: It doesn't actually exist.
9. Skid Row/Central City East. You're east of Main Street, south of Third. You're in Skid Row, of course. You can smell it.
But that's far too realistic a name for the powers that be at City Hall. There are moneyed interests on the Row, including toy importers, food warehouses and fashion companies. And so Skid Row gets scrubbed with the name Central City East, which is the same place, but much better sounding.
8. Sawtelle/West L.A. Ah, you think you're in West Los Angeles, but you're really in the neighborhood of Sawtelle, which was once actually a city in its own right in the early 20th century. Fine, then you're in Sawtelle, bounded roughly by the 405 freeway on the east, Santa Monica on the west, Wilshire Boulevard on the north, and the 10 freeway on the south. Except that the local cop shop, right in the heart of Sawtelle, is called the LAPD's West Los Angeles Division! The city officially recognizes both names for this area — Sawtelle and West L.A.
On top of all that, some of the other neighborhoods in that division, from the area near Kaiser's “West Los Angeles” campus far to the east to the neighborhoods along Olympic Boulevard as it reaches into Beverly Hills, call themselves West L.A.. Confused? We're just getting started.
7. Palms/Westside Village. Speaking of the Westside, you're in lovely Palms, yes? Just east of the 405, south of the 10. Some of the street signs tell you so. But alas, there's also Westside Village, a name officially recognized by the city, but without its own neighborhood council, and seemingly overlapping with historic Palms. Its boundaries are National Boulevard to the north, Charnock Road to the south, Overland Avenue to the east and Sepulveda Boulevard to the west. (Sounds like Palms, right? Wrong!)
6. Mid-City & beyond. This is, besides “Mid-Wilshire,” perhaps the most misused neighborhood designation in Los Angeles. We wouldn't blame you for being totally flustered, say, when someone says Beverly Boulevard and Crescent Heights is Mid-City. Yes, it's in the middle of the city, but it's not Mid-City (though it is represented by the Mid-City West Neighborhood Council. Really).
Mid-City runs between Venice Boulevard and the 10 freeway, Fairfax Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard. Of course there are other, official neighborhoods in that official Mid-City zone, including, according to our city maps, Lafayette Square, Wellington Square and part of Victoria Park. The Olympic Park Neighborhood Council also takes up a chunk of Mid-City. Head, spinning.
5. Byzantine-Latino Quarter/Pico-Union/Harvard Heights. Byzantine Latino what? Yeah, the Byzantine-Latino Quarter was so named to honor the area's Greek heritage (it's home to Papa Cristo's restaurant and a longstanding Greek Orthodox church), along with its influx of Central American immigrants.
All well and good, but the area recognized by state legislators as such, which is bordered by Olympic Boulevard on the north, Venice Boulevard on the south, Alvarado Boulevard on the east, and Normandie Avenue on the west, clashes with existing neighborhoods recognized by the city of L.A.: Pico-Union and Harvard Heights.
4. Lake Balboa. Live in a decent neighborhood that's on the edge of a more challenged one, like Van Nuys? Change the name! The people of Lake Balboa, just south of Van Nuys Airport, took a page out of an old L.A. playbook and got their community designated as Lake Balboa in 2006. The only catch? Now the area surrounding Van Nuys Airport is no longer actually Van Nuys.
See also: Los Angeles' Douchiest Neighborhoods.
3. Historic Filipinotown. Ah yes, another L.A. city designation to honor an ethnic group … that barely lives in the area anymore.
Yes, Filipinos have largely moved out of the area bounded by the Hoover Street on the west, Glendale Boulevard on the east, Temple Street on the north, and Beverly Boulevard on the south. It didn't stop then-Councilman Eric Garcetti from giving the place new, blue city name signs. The neighborhood overlaps with a longstanding community, however: Echo Park.
2. Koreatown/Wilshire Center/Little Bangladesh. Little Bangladesh is one of L.A.'s newest official communities. Except it's inside Koreatown. Which overlaps with Wilshire Center. In fact, the local neighborhood council takes the name Wilshire-Center Koreatown. Which also overlaps a little with St. Andrews Square to the west.
Little Bangladesh, by the way, takes up the area between Third Street and Wilshire Boulevard between Western and Vermont avenues, according to our city map.
And our favorite area with multiple names is …
1. Thai Town/Little Armenia/East Hollywood. East Hollywood is the area of Hollywood east of Western Avenue. And yet it appears that the City Council recognized the strip of Hollywood Boulevard between Western and Normandie avenues as Thai Town in 1999, thanks to its plethora of Thai restaurants and Thai businesses.
The many Armenian Americans who actually lived in the area clamored, understandably, for their own community signs. And so, the next year, we got Little Armenia, which totally overlaps Thai Town. Not at all confusing, is it?