Koreatown, Los Angeles facts for kids

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Koreatown
Neighborhood of Los Angeles
City of Los Angeles Koreatown marker
City of Los Angeles Koreatown marker
Nickname(s): "K-Town"
Map of Koreatown as delineated by the Los Angeles Times
Map of Koreatown as delineated by the Los Angeles Times
Country  United States of America
State  California
County Flag of Los Angeles County, California.svg Los Angeles
City Flag of Los Angeles, California.svg Los Angeles
Area
 • Total 7 km2 (2.7 sq mi)
Population (2008)
 • Total 124,281
 • Density 16,451/km2 (42,609/sq mi)
  Population changes significantly depending on areas included and recent growth.
ZIP Code 90010, 90005, 90020, 90006
Area code(s) 213

Koreatown is a neighborhood in Central Los Angeles, California, centered near Eighth Street and Western Avenue. 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 towards the growing Korean population. Many of the historic Art deco buildings with terra cotta facades have been preserved because the buildings remained economically viable for the new businesses.

It is the most densely populated district by population in Los Angeles County, with some 120,000 residents in 2.7 square miles. Despite the name evoking a traditional ethnic enclave, the community is complex and impacts areas outside the traditional boundaries. While the neighborhood culture has historically been 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 Alexandria
6th Street at Kenmore

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. These were the ten neighborhoods or cities in Los Angeles County with the highest population densities, according to the 2000 census, with the population per square mile:

  1. Koreatown, Los Angeles, 42,611
  2. Westlake, Los Angeles, 38,214
  3. East Hollywood, Los Angeles, 31,095
  4. Pico-Union, Los Angeles, 25,352
  5. Maywood, California, 23,638
  6. Harvard Heights, Los Angeles, 23,473
  7. Hollywood, Los Angeles, 22,193
  8. Walnut Park, California, 22,028
  9. Palms, Los Angeles, 21,870
  10. Adams-Normandie, Los Angeles, 21,848

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.

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
Train at the Wilshire-Western station in Koreatown

Metro operates two subway lines - the Red Line, which runs from North Hollywood to Downtown LA along Vermont Avenue, and the Purple Line, which runs along Wilshire Boulevard, both of which run near or through Koreatown. The neighborhood is served primarily by the Purple Line Wilshire/Normandie station, but there are two other stops as well. (Wilshire/Vermont and Wilshire/Western).

In addition to the two subway lines, Metro operates numerous Express, Rapid and Local bus lines through the district. Rapid lines include the 710 Crenshaw, 720 Wilshire, 728 Olympic, 754 Vermont, and 757 Western. Local lines include the 207 Western, 20 Wilshire/Westwood, 204 Vermont and 206 Normandie. 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 short in comparison to MTA lines. All DASH service ends at 7pm weekdays and on Saturday and Sundays only Dash Koreatown operates, ending the service at 6pm. All Dash fares cost 50 cents (Fare has risen). Commuter Express line 534 Century City provides weekday service while Cityride offers door to door dial-a-ride service for the elderly and disabled.

Foothill Transit services one express line in Koreatown, line 481. It operates only during weekday rush hours and runs from Wilshire and St. Andrews to the El Monte Bus Station.

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

Images for kids


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