Originally a planned community built in the 1920s, Leimert Park has since become the epicenter of African-American culture in Los Angeles. It's also home to a beloved independent bookstore that's been around since the late 1980s, owned and operated by James Fugate and Thomas Hamilton. Eso Won Bookstore occupied four other locations before landing in Leimert Park in 2006; by all appearances, it's here to stay. Offering a browsing soundtrack of soothing jazz, the shop specializes in both legendary and up-and-coming African-American writers and poets, with books on everything from the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Panthers to cookbooks, children's books and graphic novels. Eso Won takes its name from the African spelling of the city of Aswan, Egypt. Roughly translated, it means “water over rocks,” representing the continuous flow of knowledge over a firmly established community — just like the one that's come to define Leimert Park.
Credit: Tanja Laden