California Fool’s Gold — Exploring Longwood Highlands – a Neighborhood of Pride

This installment of the Los Angeles neighborhood blog is about Longwood Highlands. To vote for another Southern California, let me know which in the comments.

The romantically named Longwood Highlands is a neighborhood in Los Angeles’s Midtown area.

The borders of Midtown neighborhoods are often hazily defined but Longwood Highlands seems to be hemmed in by West Olympic Boulevard to the north, South Rimpau Boulevard to the east, West Pico Boulevard (and maybe South San Vicente Boulevard) to the south, and South La Brea Avenue to the west.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography‘s map of Longwood Highlands, available on art prints and merchandise

There is only one sign at the northeast corner of the neighborhood that I could locate so it’s difficult to be sure. However, if I’m correct in my assumptions then Longwood Highlands is neighbors with Brookside, Park Mile, Country Club Park, Miracle Mile, Redondo-Sycamore, Victoria Park, Vineyard, and Wilshire Highlands.

As with the rest of the Midtown area, what’s now Longwood Highlands was for centuries Tongva land until the arrival of the Spaniards. After the area passed from Mexico to the US, it remained primarily farmland until the 1890s, when surrounding areas began to develop. It wasn’t until after the opening of the Port of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Aqueduct (in 1907 and 1913 respectively) that the formerly pastoral region was rapidly developed.

Most of the homes in the neighborhood were built in the 1920s in a variety of styles, often in the mock-Tudor and Spanish Colonial styles. The homes tend to sit back fairly far from the streets on relatively large lots. Longwood Highlands is still a primarily quiet, gently hilly residential neighborhood surrounded by loud, busy commercial corridors.

It’s a rather lush, green neighborhood, the streets of which are lined with mature magnolias, oaks, and sycamores. The stately residences suggest that the neighborhood’s residents are rather well off. However, as I strolled along the quiet streets I was offered greetings and smiles from the mostly black, Latino, and white residents — a dead giveaway that a neighborhood isn’t strictly for toffs. In fact, closer examination reveals that nearly every home in the neighborhood is a duplex or, in fewer cases, a fourplex. The varied and asymmetrical designs, however, give the impression that the multi-residence homes are single-family mansions.

There aren’t a lot in the way of mom and pop eateries in the area… two donut places [Lee’s (aka Bee’s) and Magee’s], El Burrito Jr, I Love Teriyaki, and a BBQ place whose name I couldn’t sort out. Rosemead‘s El Chato taco truck frequently posts up there too. Otherwise, mega-chains like Burger King, KFC, and Starbucks are located along the neighborhood’s edge. Nearby to the west is Little Ethiopia, which is full of good eats. Along the southern edge of the neighborhood are a goodly number of auto shops.

Given the age, location, and charm of the neighborhood, undoubtedly some early Hollywood figures lived in the neighborhood although my research turned up nothing. Raymond Chandler lived in the area (amongst many others in the city) in 1929 somewhere along Highland.

However, the most impressive cinematic connection in Longwood Highlands is the presence of a life-size model of Gort, which stands in the window of Grey Goose Custom Picture Framing. I took a picture but it didn’t turn out. Luckily, the Grey Goose Gort is the favorite Los Angeles landmark of former Amoeba employee Will Keightly.

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Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, essayist, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking paid writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities. He is not interested in generating advertorials, cranking out clickbait, or laboring away in a listicle mill “for exposure.”
Brightwell has written for Angels Walk LAAmoeblogBoom: A Journal of CaliforniadiaCRITICSHidden Los Angeles, and KCET Departures. His art has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft ContemporaryForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County Store, the book SidewalkingSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured as subject in The Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistCurbedLAEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA?, at Emerson Collegeand the University of Southern California.
Brightwell is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on AmebaDuolingoFacebookGoodreadsInstagramMubithe StoryGraphand Twitter.

3 thoughts on “California Fool’s Gold — Exploring Longwood Highlands – a Neighborhood of Pride

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