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Koreatown, Los Angeles facts for kids

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Koreatown
City of Los Angeles Koreatown marker
City of Los Angeles Koreatown marker
Nickname(s): 
"K-Town"
Koreatown is located in Los Angeles
Koreatown
Koreatown
Location in Los Angeles
Country United States
State California
County Los Angeles
City Los Angeles
Area
  (about 150 blocks)
 • Total 2.7 sq mi (7 km2)
Population
 (2008)
 • Total 124,281
 • Density 46,208/sq mi (17,841/km2)
  Population changes significantly depending on areas included and recent growth.
ZIP Code
90010, 90005, 90006
Area code(s) 213, 323

Koreatown (Korean: 코리아타운) is a neighborhood in central Los Angeles, California, centered near Eighth Street and Irolo Street.

Koreans began immigrating in larger numbers in the 1960s and found housing in the Mid-Wilshire area. Many opened businesses as they found rent and tolerance toward the growing Korean population. Many of the historic Art deco buildings with terra cotta façades have been preserved because the buildings remained economically viable for the new businesses.

Despite the name evoking a traditional ethnic enclave, the community is complex and has an impact on areas outside the traditional boundaries. While the neighborhood culture was historically oriented to the Korean immigrant population, Korean business owners are creating stronger ties to the Latino community in Koreatown. The community is highly diverse ethnically, with half the residents being Latino and a third being Asian. Two-thirds of the residents were born outside of the United States, a high figure compared to the rest of the city.

History

The 1930s saw the height of the area's association with Hollywood. The Ambassador Hotel hosted the Academy Awards ceremony in 1930, 1931, 1932, and 1934. Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968 at Ambassador Hotel. About this time, the surrounding neighborhood began a steep decline. After most of the hotel structures were demolished, the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools were built on the site with the first opening in 2009.

The once-glamorous mid-Wilshire area with vacant commercial and office space attracted wealthier South Korean immigrants in the 1960s. They found inexpensive housing and many opened businesses there. The relaxed federal immigration rules following the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 resulted in a growing immigrant community. Many of the Art deco buildings with terra cotta facades in the area were preserved because they remained economically viable with the new businesses that occupied the structures.

The 1992 Los Angeles riots had a significant impact on the community. Korean Americans felt they received very little if any aid or protection from police authorities as a result of their low social status and the language barrier. According to Professor Edward Park, director of the Asian Pacific American Studies Program at Loyola Marymount University, the 1992 violence stimulated a new wave of political activism among Korean-Americans, but it also split them into two camps. The liberals sought to unite with other minorities in Los Angeles to fight against racial oppression and scapegoating. The conservatives emphasized law and order and generally favored the economic and social policies of the Republican Party. The conservatives tended to emphasize the political differences between Koreans and other minorities, specifically blacks and Hispanics.

In late 2008, the City of Los Angeles designated Koreatown a special graphics district (along with Hollywood and the downtown neighborhood of South Park/LA Live). The designation allows for digital signage and electronic billboards, currently not permitted by city code, to be installed on building facades. The designation allowed Times Square and Shibuya District-inspired buildings lined with LCD jumbotrons. The 300-square block graphics district is bordered by 6th Street and Olympic Boulevard from the north and south, and St. Andrews Place and Shatto from the west to east.

More recently, some residents have alleged the community has experienced declining political power due to redistricting.

Since Koreatown has a Latino majority, it's not unusual to find Latino employees in restaurants and grocery stores speaking Korean with customers or Korean store owners engaging Latino customers in Spanish. An example of a cultural interchange between Koreans and Latinos in Koreatown is the popularity of Korean-inspired taco trucks in Los Angeles that feature classic Mexican food infused with Korean ingredients.

Geography

Ktown 2
Olympic Boulevard, looking east toward downtown
Los-Angeles-Koreatown-Aerial-view-from-south-August-2014
Aerial view in 2014

The neighborhood lies 3 miles (5 km) west of downtown, 4 miles (6 km) south-east of Hollywood, 12 miles (19 km) from Santa Monica Beach and 16 miles (26 km) from Los Angeles International Airport. It is generally flat, with an average elevation of 200 feet (61 m).

City of Los Angeles boundaries

The city of Los Angeles has set the official boundary for Koreatown neighborhood council as Olympic Boulevard from Western Avenue to Vermont Avenue on the south, Vermont Avenue from Olympic Boulevard to Third Street on the east, Third Street from Vermont Avenue to Western Avenue on the north, Western Avenue from Third Street to Olympic Boulevard, including a business corridor along Western Avenue from Third Street to Rosewood Avenue situated inside the East Hollywood area on the west. The boundaries established in 2010 include both sides of the street (Los Angeles City Council File 09-06096).

The Koreatown Regional Commercial Center runs along Olympic Boulevard and is "generally bounded by Eighth Street on the north, Twelfth Street on the south, Western Avenue on the west, and continues east towards Vermont Avenue" according to the city of Los Angeles Wilshire Community Plan.

Mapping L.A. boundaries

The Mapping L.A. project of the Los Angeles Times states as follows:

Koreatown is flanked by East Hollywood to the north, Westlake to the east, Pico-Union, Harvard Heights and Arlington Heights to the south, Mid-Wilshire and Windsor Square to the west and Larchmont to the northwest. The street boundaries are Beverly Boulevard on the north, Virgil Avenue, Wilshire Place and Westmoreland Avenue on the east, Olympic Boulevard on the south and Crenshaw Boulevard and Wilton Place on the west.

Districts within Koreatown

  • Park Mile
  • Wilshire Center was founded in 1895 by Gaylord Wilshire and is one of the oldest communities in Los Angeles.
  • Wilshire Park is a historic preservation overlay zone bounded on the west by the rear lot lines of Crenshaw Boulevard, on the north by Ingraham Street or its extension to the west, on the east by Wilton Place and on the south by Olympic Boulevard. It is a neighborhood of one- and two-story historic Dutch Colonial, Spanish Colonial, American Craftsman, Victorian-Craftsman Transitional, Colonial Revival, Traditional, California Bungalow, and Mediterranean style single-family homes and duplexes on tree-lined streets of mature magnolias, oaks, and sycamores.
3923 W. 9th St., Los Angeles
Weber House, 3923 W. 9th St.
The first recorded residence in Wilshire Park was built in 1908; this transitional Victorian-Craftsman is an example of the work of architect Frank M. Tyler. The district also features at least twelve other Tyler-designed residences. The city has designated three Wilshire Park homes as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments, including the William J. Weber House, built in 1921, designed by Lloyd Wright and honored as a Historic–Cultural Monument in 2002, the A.W. Black Residence, built in 1913 and designed by John Frederick Soper (honored in 2005), and the William J. Hubbard Residence, built in 1923 and designed by Allen Kelly Ruoff and Arthur C. Munson (honored in 2006).

Nearby places

These are nearby locations, not necessarily contiguous:

Demographics

6th and Kenmore, night, Koreatown, Los Angeles
6th Street at Kenmore

Koreatown is one of the densest neighborhoods in the United States.

The 2000 U.S. census counted 115,070 residents in the 2.7-square-mile neighborhood—an average of 42,611 people per square mile, the highest density of any community in Los Angeles County. In 2008, the city estimated that the population had increased to 124,281. The median age for residents was 30, an average age for both the city and Los Angeles County.

Koreatown is considered "highly diverse" ethnically. The breakdown is Latinos, 53.5%; Asians, 32.2%; whites, 7.4%; blacks, 4.8%, and others, 2%. Korea (28.6%) and Mexico (23.9%) were the most common places of birth for the 68% of the residents who were born abroad, a figure that is considered high compared to the city as a whole.

The median annual household income in 2008 dollars was $30,558, a low figure for Los Angeles, and the percentage of households that earned less than $20,000 was high. The average household size of 2.7 people was about the same as the rest of the city. Renters occupied 93% of the housing units, and house- or apartment owners the rest.

In 2020, approximately 600 residents were unhoused.

The percentages of never-married men and women, 44.6% and 36.2%, respectively, were among the county's highest. There were 2,833 military veterans in 2000, or 3.3%, a low figure for Los Angeles.

Transportation

Purple Line train on Wilshire-Western line
Red Line Train at the Wilshire-Vermont Metro station in Koreatown

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority operates two subway lines in or near Koreatown — the B Line, beneath Vermont Avenue, and the D Line, beneath Wilshire Boulevard. The neighborhood is served primarily by the D Line Wilshire/Normandie station, but there are two other stops, Wilshire/Vermont and Wilshire/Western.

In addition to the two subway lines, Metro operates numerous Express, Rapid and Local bus lines in the district. Rapid lines include the 720 Wilshire and 754 Vermont. Local lines include the 207 Western, 20 Wilshire/Westwood, 204 Vermont, 206 Normandie, and 210 Crenshaw. Many MTA bus lines in Koreatown offer 24-hour service.

The LADOT operates three district-to-district DASH routes, one Commuter Express line and Cityride. Koreatown is served by DASH Hollywood/Wilshire line and Dash Koreatown. The DASH lines are meant for local neighborhood transportation; their routes are shorter than MTA lines. DASH service ends at 7pm weekdays and only Dash Koreatown operates on weekends, ending service at 6pm. DASH fares are 50 cents. Commuter Express line 534 Century City provides weekday service while Cityride offers door to door dial-a-ride service for the elderly and disabled.

Publicly accessible places

Chapman Market
Chapman Park Market
  • Chapman Park Market, 3405 West 6th St.

When it opened in 1929, the gracious structure on 6th Street was an architectural wonder, featuring the novel concept of one-stop shopping for fresh produce, meat and dry goods. It was an urbane attraction in the fashionable Wilshire District at a time when movie stars played at the nearby Ambassador Hotel.

  • LA Metro subway station, Western Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard.
  • The Line Hotel at Normandie Avenue.
  • The Wiltern Theater at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue.
  • Koreatown Plaza shopping center, Western Avenue between James Wood Boulevard and San Marino Street.
  • Wilshire Gramercy Plaza shopping center, northwest corner of Wilshire and Wilton.
  • Seoul International Park, formerly Ardmore Recreation Center, 3250 San Marino Street at Trolo Street. The indoor gymnasium is also used as an auditorium with 400 seats. The center is an LAPD drop-in center and features a children's play area.
  • Shatto Recreation Center, 3250 San Marino Street at Westmoreland Avenue, where the indoor gymnasium can be used as a 383-seat auditorium. There is a baseball diamond (lighted), basketball courts (lighted/outdoor), children's play area, community room, tennis courts (lighted) and volleyball courts (lighted).
  • Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 3300 Wilshire Boulevard
  • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 209 South Manhattan Place
  • Wilshire Korean Christian Church, 3435 Wilshire Boulevard

Economy

Olympic Boulevard has blocks dominated by Korean-language signs and new blue-tile-roofed shopping centers. This initial Korean business area has spread to an area bounded by Olympic Boulevard, Vermont Avenue, 8th Street and Western Avenue. The Korean business area also sprawls to the north and south along Western and Vermont for three miles, and to the east and west along Olympic for two miles. South Korean investment has been a large contributor to the neighborhood economy since the 1960s. Since the early 2000s, that investment has increased greatly, ballooning to an estimated $1 billion in new construction investment. Jamison Services, Inc is Koreatown's biggest landlord and most prolific residential builder. The area also has a vibrant nightlife with many lively restaurants and clubs, especially Korean barbeque restaurants and karaoke bars.

KoreanConsulateLosAngeles
Consulate-General of South Korea in Los Angeles

Asiana Airlines operates a sales office in Koreatown. Korean Air's United States Passenger Operations headquarters are located in close proximity to Koreatown in the Westlake community. Grupo TACA operates a Los Angeles-area TACA Center in Suite 100P at 3600 Wilshire Boulevard.

The Consulate-General of South Korea in Los Angeles is at 3243 Wilshire Boulevard. The Consulate General of the People's Republic of China in Los Angeles is at 443 Shatto Place, while the passport and visa office is on the third floor of 500 Shatto Place. The Consulate General of El Salvador is at 3450 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 250 [1] and the Consulate General of Guatemala is at 3540 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 100 [2]. The Consulate General of Honduras[3] and Nicaragua are at 3550 Wilshire Blvd. The Consulate General of Bolivia is at 3701 Wilshire Blvd #1056. The Consulate General of Indonesia is at 3457 Wilshire Blvd. [4], while the Consulate General of the Philippines, which has been in Koreatown since 1967, is presently located next door at the fifth floor of the Equitable Life Building at 3435 Wilshire Blvd.

Education

Camino Nuevo HS
Camino Nuevo Charter Academy
Bullocks Wilshire
Southwestern School of Law

21.4% of Koreatown residents aged 25 and older have a four-year degree, an average rate for both the city and the county. The percentage of residents with less than a high school diploma was high for the county.

Schools within the Koreatown borders are:

  • Central City Value, LAUSD charter high school, 221 North Westmoreland Avenue
  • Ambassador School of Global Leadership, LAUSD K-12, 701 South Catalina Street
  • New Open World Academy, LAUSD K-12, 3201 West Eighth Street
  • UCLA Community School, LAUSD K-12, 701 South Catalina Street
  • Virgil Middle School, LAUSD, 152 North Vermont Avenue
  • Young Oak Kim Academy, LAUSD, 615 S. Shatto Place
  • Cahuenga Elementary School, LAUSD, 220 South Hobart Boulevard
  • Saint Brendan School, private elementary, 238 South Manhattan Place
  • New Horizon School/Los Angeles, private elementary, 434 South Vermont Avenue
  • Saint James' Episcopal Day School, private elementary, 625 South Saint Andrews Place
  • Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, LAUSD charter, 697 South Burlington Avenue
  • Saint Gregory Nazianzen, private elementary, 911 South Norton Avenue
  • Wilton Place Elementary School, LAUSD, 745 South Wilton Place
  • Hobart Boulevard Elementary School, LAUSD, 980 South Hobart Boulevard
  • Mariposa-Nabi Primary Center, LAUSD, 987 South Mariposa Avenue
  • Pilgrim School, private preK-12, 540 South Commonwealth Avenue
  • Larchmont Charter School - Layfayette Park Campus, 8-12, 2801 W 6th Street
  • Berendo Middle school - 1157 S Berendo St, Los Angeles, CA 90006
  • Los Angeles Senior High - 4650 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019

Other education

The Korean Education Center, affiliated with the government of South Korea, is in Suite 200 at 680 Wilshire Place.

Southwestern Law School offers degree and non-degree programs in the Westmoreland Building and the former Bullock's Wilshire building at 3050 Wilshire Boulevard.

Public libraries

Pio Pico Koreatown Branch Library, Los Angeles
Pio Pico Koreatown Branch Library
  • Pio Pico Koreatown Branch Library (피오 피코 코리아타운 도서관) of the Los Angeles Public Library serves the area.
Korean Festival Parade LA
Parade performers during the Korean Festival

Festivals

Annual festivals include the Korean Festival & Parade on Olympic Boulevard, with a march to the Seoul Peace Park. The Wilshire Center Business Improvement District (WCBID) holds the annual Earth Day / Car Free Day Festival every April 22 on Wilshire. KTOWN Night Market holds an annual festival at Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools.

Community organizations

  • The popular Anderson-Munger YMCA at 3rd and Oxford offers swimming, exercise programs, child and teen programs, and social services to the community.
  • Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA) organizes in the community on behalf of social change.

Notable places

Chapman Market
Chapman Park Market
  • The Korean American National Museum - 3727 West 6th Street
  • The Korean Cultural Center - 5505 Wilshire Boulevard
  • Koreatown Plaza - 928 South Western Avenue
  • Chapman Park Market, 3405 West 6th Street
  • The Wiltern Theater at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue.
  • Liberty Park - 3700 Wilshire Boulevard
  • LA Metro subway station, Western Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard.
  • Bimini Baths

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