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Curbed Cup Round 1: Santa Monica (8) vs. Highland Park (9)

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Here it is: the 2013 Curbed Cup race for the Los Angeles Neighborhood of the Year. Round one of our tournament features 16 'hoods vying for the coveted golden jpeg--we'll have two matchups every day through Thursday, then take a look at our tournament bracket on Friday. Voting for each poll ends 24 hours after opening (and will be watched closely for any shenanigans). Let the neighborhood on neighborhood carnage begin!

It was a big year for starchitecture in Santa Monica: the city is moving ahead with plans for big developments designed by both homegrown hero Frank Gehry and Dutch Pritzker winner Rem Koolhaas. Mixed-use and residential development as always is hopping in the city (as is the anti-development crowd), but so are park and plaza projects (the huge James Corner-designed Tongva Park opened to great acclaim, plans for the Expo Line-adjacent Colorado Esplanade moved ahead, and a handful of other new parks are in the works), as well as hotel plans (Palihouse opened, and there are projects in the works for a Wyndham and a Mariott and Hampton Inn). Meanwhile, exercise habits in the city continue to be super intense and the restaurant scene is still hot as hell--most recently a Groundwork coffee opened and 800 Degrees and Red O announced they were on the way.

The big story in ever-fancifying Highland Park this year was the insane housing prices: listing site Redfin named it the hottest up-and-coming neighborhood of 2013 way back in January and it lived up to the hype with climbing prices and nutso bidding wars galores. It also greened up a bit with a new parklet on York and planning for a regular-sized park right nearby. Then there are the two Starbuckses just a couple miles apart, and nothing says gentrification like fancy pastry restaurants.

Poll results