Highland Park is in the news a lot these days for being the posterchild of gentrification in Los Angeles. But the vibrant neighborhood in Northeast Los Angeles, should be known for being LA’s most interesting. It’s economically and ethnically diverse. Its main drag, York Boulevard, is walkable and filled with small, independent businesses. It’s got a stop on the Gold Line. It holds the city’s largest historic preservation zone, an architectural arsenal of 4,000 structures in styles ranging from Queen Anne to Mission Revival.
And, since its settlement, Highland Park has been a magnet for artists. KCET has described it as LA’s first bohemian neighborhood, a culture that started with Charles Lummis—a writer and Indian rights activist who founded the city’s first museum—and continued with the Arts and Crafts movement and then the Chicano arts collectives of the 1970s. “Now, the DIY, bohemian ethos that grew out of the neighborhood's early days is alive in the area again,” KCET says.
To much of the world, Compton is mainly known for its place in hip-hop history—as the birthplace of The Game and Kendrick Lamar, and the place the members of NWA came straight out of on their way to global superstardom.
But Compton is also one of the most unique cities in Southern California: both transit-accessible and car-friendly, with an incongruous agricultural district where you’ll find some of LA County’s last remaining cowboys.
Of course, a combination of high crime rates and gritty depictions of the area in rap songs and music videos have cast a cloud of notoriety over Compton that may be hard to erase. But 2016 was a big year for the city. Venus and Serena Williams, who grew up in Compton, returned to the area to open the Yetunde Price Resource Center, which will provide services to residents whose lives have been impacted by gun violence. Kendrick Lamar also dropped by to receive the key to the city from young mayor Aja Brown.
Meanwhile, construction wrapped up on the Brickyard, an office complex that will be leased by UPS, and plans were announced for a huge new entertainment complex that will include a movie theater and performing arts venue. Appropriately, one of the project’s backers is none other than Dr. Dre.