What you think of as the Eastside or the Westside of Los Angeles might not necessarily be the same as others: Latinos, African Americans, gangs, history and the actual map all have different perspectives on where the Westside ends and the Eastside begins.
Indeed, few crosstown rivalries involve such ingrained (and often wrong-headed) notions as L.A.'s Eastside-Westside divide. It's as if self-proclaimed Eastsiders are from Venus and Westsiders are from Mars.
Here's a way to look at the Eastside and Westside through different lenses (filtered, of course, through our own biases):
How Latinos often see it: Silver Lake and Echo Park as the Eastside? Many multi-generational Latinos believe that's a hipster colonization of a term meant to describe points east of downtown such as Boyle Heights, Highland Park and El Sereno. The true Eastside, they say, goes all the way to Eagle Rock and to the Alhambra border in the San Gabriel Valley. Silver Lake is a world away. Of course, many of these Eastsiders would include neighborhoods east of the L.A. River, including Atwater Village, which is at the same longitude as … Silver Lake.
How some African Americans see it: Much of the historic African American Westside is south of Pico Boulevard and runs deep into South Los Angeles. See the photo above? It's of a business at 2117 W. Jefferson Blvd., which is south of the 10 freeway and not far from Arlington Avenue, a street that would nearly reach Los Feliz if it continued north in a straight line. It gives us a chuckle to see out-of-town documentary filmmakers head to Washington Boulevard near La Brea and proclaim that they're in “South Central” just because there are African Americans there.
For many African Americans, the Westside heads west of the 110 freeway and goes all the way to Baldwin Hills and the Culver City line. It extends north to Pico and reaches almost to Robertson Boulevard, where you'll find graffiti from the black gang known as the Playboy Gangster Crips. Which brings us to …
How some gangs see it: You're not going to like this one, Echo Park hipsters, but gangs that have been operating in neighborhoods just west of downtown have called their 'hoods the Westside for decades. In fact, Echo Park 13, along with other area gangs, 18th Street included, have long used “W.S.” on their tags to indicate that they are proudly Westside sets. In fact, gangs just a block or two from Main Street in South L.A. go with the W.S., while gangs such as White Fence in Boyle Heights often go with the E.S. You'll see W.S. gangs in the depths of South L.A. and in the core of Mid-City and Koreatown.
How history sees it: There's little ambiguity here. The west in L.A. history was west of downtown, which provided acreage for the new suburbs that would crop in in the 1920s and beyond. Westlake, home of MacArthur Park, was the home of the moneyed class, and soon a Bullocks department store (now in Koreatown) would be built in 1929 to serve it. UCLA urban and cultural historian Eric Avila told us this in 2011: “I would agree that, technically, everything west of Main Street I would call the Westside.” The map of L.A. seems to agree …
How the map sees it: Again, the map favors a Westside much closer to downtown. Most of the number streets and big boulevards get a “west” before their names west of Main Street and an east if they're “east” of Main Street.
Western Avenue was a boulevard for the new western suburbs in the Bullocks era. Not only that, but at its northern terminus it turns into Los Feliz Boulevard, a street named for another neighborhood claimed by the New Eastsiders. At its southern end, Western reaches the beachside communities of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
West Boulevard, another oldster street, runs from South L.A. all the way to Los Angeles High School, just a few blocks from Crenshaw Boulevard.
What most of you think? That's up to you. But the old Los Angeles Times Westside Edition used to cover Culver City, Santa Monica, West L.A., Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Brentwood, Pacific Palisades, Malibu and even West Hollywood, a city that runs all the way to La Brea Avenue. Even Culver City heads east to Fairfax and neighbors black Los Angeles and Mid-City. That sounds reasonable.
We're sure that many people will still refer to Echo Park, Loz Feliz and Silver Lake as the Eastside and to anything east of La Cienega as not Westside. But that wouldn't always be supported by the perspectives above.
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.