Over at KCET, DJ Waldie explains today that Los Angeles's now-familiar east-west split (regardless of where you think the damn thing actually is) has pretty much always been thus: the westside has always been home to the ruling class, the fancy people, the white; the eastside has always been poorer, a little more colorful, and let's face it cooler (but then we editorialize!). The city was founded in 1781 on the west bank of the river, "consigning the Native American residents of Yang 'na to a 'rancheria' below and to the east, at the southern end of what are now the train platforms of Union Station." In the 1850s, the Sonoratown barrio "crowded north and east of the old plaza" while Los Angeles (by then part of the US) "filled the higher ground west." By 1890, Boyle Heights and the Union Station neighborhood were full of "poor Russians, Jews, Chinese, and Latinos," as well as working-class Jews, while "Westward rose the fashionable neighborhoods of Bunker Hill and Angelino Heights." And then we hit the twentieth century: "west of the plaza was suburban, gracious, refined, and steadfastly white. East of the plaza, people of all colors promiscuously crowded together and all sorts of vice were available." (Vice = cool!) With the construction of the freeways and the resulting mid-century hypersprawl, the divide got even bigger and badder. But the Intelligentsia Wars of 2023 should clear everything up once and for all.
· East Is East and West Is West [KCET]