Travel + Leisure Finds the Real L.A.

east.jpgTravel + Leisure Magazine has a big article this month on the “real” Los Angeles by writer M.G. Lord — and Eastsiders will be happy to learn that 90% of what real in this town is on their turf. She spends a lot of time waxing poetic about downtown, Echo Park and Silver Lake:

Downtown, where I live, I like the way the flashy curves of Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall underscore the elegant functionality of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion across the street. Long home to the Oscars, and now to the L.A. Opera, the Midcentury treasure was designed by iconic L.A. architect Welton Becket, who created both Hollywood’s cylindrical Capitol Records building and its geodesic Cinerama Dome.

Her take on LA is relentlessly hip — sort of a “we’re as cool as New York, I swear it,” approach — that’s not a criticism. She definitely knows the area and picks up on a lot of great places, but they all fall under that hipster umbrella. She plugs lots of gems like R-23, The Edison, and Dave Eggers shop/non-profit Time Travel Mart in Echo Park. Here’s the LA guide included in the article.

It’s a good article about the non-Hollywood side of LA, but there is one point I don’t agree with her on — she argues that the Eastside “rebound” has been driven by first-time home buyers that couldn’t afford the westside:

Since 2000, most of the city’s famously disconnected and derelict neighborhoods not only have rebounded, they have begun to cohere—with the millennium real estate bubble providing an unlikely glue. (Never mind that it has since popped.) Because many first-time home buyers could not afford West L.A.—often the place where they grew up—they turned east, resurrecting houses with “good bones” in Hollywood, Silver Lake, Los Feliz, and Echo Park. Many of my friends—to say nothing of L.A.’s closest culture watchers—were either party or witness to this. They lived next to different types of people and usually figured out how to get along. Home ownership changed these buyers, even the jaded ones who planned merely to flip. They learned respect for craftsmanship and hands-on work…

No doubt there are many of those types of Eastsiders around, driving their BMWs and Priuses through Silver Lake, drinking $8 La Mill coffees, continually in awe of the area’s diversity and their liberal ability to embrace it. But I would argue that there are a lot of us who didn’t want to live on the westside, and who didn’t need to cross La Cienega to realize not everyone in the world looks or acts the same. My husband and I bought in 2000 and could have afforded Culver City, Palms, Mar Vista, and the like. But we didn’t want the west side. We wanted a mixed neighborhood where people could and did walk and mingle, where you weren’t surrounded by Hummers and personal assistants, and where you could find a sense of neighborhood. In other words, we choose the east side, we weren’t forced here — and we came to join an existing community, not pretend we were pioneers out to unite the masses….OK, enough ranting. Just a reminder that the eastside was doing fine even without a slew of wine bars and boutiques.

For those of you who are looking on the eastside, here’s a sample of what $600,000 gets you in downtown, Echo Park and Silver Lake:

  • Downtown: This loft has a bit over 1,400 square feet and all the usual granite, stainless steel bells and whistles. It’s listed at$635,000.
  • Echo Park: This cute mid-century 2/1.5 has been reduced by $50 grand to $629,000.
  • Silver Lake: $600 is still a tougher price point in Silver Lake. Here’s a 3/3 townhouse on Griffith Park Blvd that shows what’s out there…it’s bank-owned and is listed for $562,500.

  • Bahn

    Edison is a sweet, sweet bar.

  • Anita Chabria

    Can’t argue – it is a fun place!