Keep it real (cool) on the east side of town
- Last Updated: 5:14 PM, November 21, 2011
- Posted: 8:32 PM, May 9, 2011
HOW amazing, that even in this day and age, Los Angeles remains so misunderstood by so many. Part of this is a testament to how lazy most people are; the City of Angels does not exactly present itself to you all neatly wrapped in a bow. Then there is the fact that Los Angeles is also really huge and hard to get a handle on. To really appreciate our nation’s second-largest city — and perhaps one day our first — you need to have a bit of the old pioneer spirit. And a lot of time on your hands.
First off, what you should know about today’s Los Angeles is that it is way more interesting than the Los Angeles of as recently as 10 years ago. The amount of change that has come in modern times, to neighborhoods from Eagle Rock to Playa del Rey, is astounding. In many ways, the city’s west side and its clichés are now all part and parcel of a sort of affluent SoCal version of Manhattan; the east side of town, long down on its luck, is flourishing, growing to become a kind of parallel universe — a little like Brooklyn. A lot like Brooklyn, actually.
On the east side, everything is different from the LA you probably know from quick drives through Beverly Hills or Bel Air or Pacific Palisades and other fancy addresses that came to represent the city to the world. It is different from Times Square-like, tourist-trappy Hollywood; a world removed from the beach neighborhoods and cities.
On the east side, there’s no driving for hours to get everywhere. Sometimes, you can actually walk more than a block or two without everyone staring at you funny. Maybe you could even get a bike, instead of driving everywhere. For the uninitiated, the best place to begin exploring would be the neighborhoods that sit along Sunset Boulevard, between Hollywood and Downtown. There’s Los Feliz, once a sleepy little enclave that got hip back in the 1990s; then there’s Silver Lake, which was always sort of a thing, but now super popular and super expensive; finally, you have happening Echo Park, nestled in a pretty canyon below Dodger Stadium, a rough-and-tumble old collection of cheap apartments and charming bungalows gone cool, just a mile or so from the concrete canyons of Bunker Hill.
All in, these three neighborhoods comprise one of the most pleasant slices of a sprawling Los Angeles. For those interested in getting to know the newer, vastly-improved LA, this area would be a great place to get started. Here’s a quick guide to getting it done.
LET’S GET STARTED.
There are a lot of buzzy neighborhoods in town, but perhaps none turns an outsider’s impression of Los Angeles upside down quite as quickly as Echo Park does.