Canterbury Knolls is a South Los Angeles neighborhood bordered by Manchester Square, Morningside Circle, and Vermont Knolls to the south; Hyde Park to the west; Chesterfield Square to the north; Vermont Square to the northeast; and Vermont-Slauson to the east.
For the estimated two dozen or so semi-regular readers of this blog, the way this works is clear.
Then I go there — often with my trusty sidekick, Shimbles. Then I attempt to explore the connections the area has to movies and music to keep it Amoeblog-relevant. And so, faced with more than two votes for Canterbury Knolls, Shimbles and I set out at the crack of noon to see what we could see in the fabled neighborhood. Preliminary internet research had proved mostly fruitless. Aside from a flame war between some internet gangstas on a 50 Cent message board and some girl’s Livejournal, I could find few firsthand acknowledgements of the neighborhood.
The way neighborhood names work in Los Angeles is this: the more “ghetto” the neighborhood, the more quaintly English sounding its name. Therefore, I had some notion of what to expect of Canterbury Knolls. Not surprisingly, when we arrived, there were neither knolls nor Kentish people to be seen. (The name “Canterbury” is derived from the Olde Englishe Cantwareburh, meaning “Kent people’s stronghold.”) In fact, when the Eighth District Empowerment Congress officially nicknamed every neighborhood in the area in 2002, no one in Canterbury Knolls seemed to get the news… or be consulted for the Naming Neighborhoods Project. Further research yielded two claims that the area is more commonly referred to simply as “da hood.” The Los Angeles Times even wrote an article, “Asphalt Jungle or Green Meadows?,” which addresses the incongruity of the South Los Angeles’s new neighborhood names and people’s ignorance of Canterbury Knolls specifically.
I couldn’t find any musicians associated with the neighborhood, nor any actors. Although the neighborhood shares initials with Citizen Kane, the only film I could find that was shot in the neighborhood the brutal, senseless beating of Reginald Denny at the hands of Damian Williams, Henry Watson, Antoine Miller, Gary Williams, Anthony Brown and Lance Parker during the Los Angeles Riots of ’92, filmed at the intersection of Florence and Normandie. There’s not much along that patch of Florence aside from Gabe Motors, which was packed with restored and waiting-to-be-restored vochos. I’m sure that there are aspiring and possibly practicing musicians, actors or filmmakers in the neighborhood, so if you live in Canterbury Knolls and have a connection to the entertainment business, make yourself heard.
As I mentioned earlier, there are no Kentish people in CK. In fact, nearly everyone we encountered was black, Latino or Korean. Shimbles and I were the only “people-not-of-color” (to employ the politically correct Anglo-exclusion). Perhaps this is why a kindly old woman asked me if we were brothers as she bade me “good afternoon” and handed me a copy of Watchtower. In fact, Shimbles and I were continually greeted with pleasant but almost wearying regularity, making Canterbury Knolls the friendliest neighborhood blogging experience I’ve had to date (in stark contrast to the scowling yoga-pants-horde we encountered in Laurel Canyon the day before).
Physically, most of Canterbury Knolls is — like most of South Los Angeles — comprised of small, single story homes, boxy apartments, and tiny stores arranged in grids. There are many churches, auto shops, small markets, discount stores, party suppliers, laundromats and carpet houses. There’s a conspicuous absence of chains, for the most part, but they do have an Autozone and a 76. There are few restaurants, just a sprinkling of burger, Chinese, Mexican, and Salvadoran joints.
The northern portion of the neighborhood, along the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe‘s Harbor Subdivision, is much more industrialized and mostly comprised of large, aging warehouses. Many of the businesses around Slauson, which forms the northern edge of the neighborhood, are furniture manufacturers. In fact, it was either in or near Canterbury Knolls that I procured one of my couches.
The largest of the warehouses is the awesome, sprawling Slauson Super Mall – an enormous, 177,129 square foot swap meet where one can get their nails done, get one’s shine on, buy rainbow-colored everything, eat pupusas and Icees, and pick up a memorial tee of a recently passed black celebrity. Last time I came here I saw one for 60 Minutes‘ Ed Bradley. Not surprisingly, Michael Jackson is the favored subject for airbrush artists of the moment. It was shown in the video for Tupac’s “To Live and Die in LA.” It was opened in 1986 by Michael Yoon.
Well, that’s about all I could figure out about Canterbury Knolls. If you have any corrections or additions, by all means, let me know. Thanks.