NFT Los Angeles Boyle Heights

Boyle Heights

Situated just east of the LA River, Boyle Heights is a neighborhood rich with history. Explore the neighborhood's past as a Jewish enclave at the restored Breed Street Shul, or celebrate its distinctly Latino present by buying a song or two from the bands at Mariachi Plaza. Hollenbeck Park is a great place to relax, but keep an eye out for the ghosts said to live nearby at the abandoned Linda Vista Hospital.

Those looking for LA's best street food should make their way directly to Boyle Heights. Although the fleet of taco trucks that cruised Breed Street was dispersed a few years ago, some the area's best vendors regroup every Saturday night at El Mercado del Pueblo near Hollenbeck Middle School. While you're out, pick up a dessert from one of the local bakeries and enjoy the neighborhood's many impressive murals. Best of all, it's all public transportation accessible thanks to the Gold Line expansion.See more.


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Posted By:  Alexander Smith
Photo:  Alexander Smith

Hollenbeck Middle
Getting to number one didn't happen over night. With over 2,000 students, this school offers free after-school programs like City Year and Los Angeles Conservation Corps. These programs strive to give the students from the surrounding at-risk neighborhoods a safe, educational environment for students once the 3 o'clock bell rings. Also the Hollenbeck staff has formed a professional community dedicated to the improvement of the student's performance. The leadership class representing the student body organizes events like school-wide dances, and eighth graders are expected to become engaged citizens through the eight hours of volunteer service required for graduation.

Posted By:  Kevan Peterson
Photo:  Gillian Wee

San Antonio Winery
San Antonio winery is the only winery tucked away in Los Angeles right outside of Chinatown. This unassuming little palace of fine wines is a delight to visit. You can try up to 3 wines from their complimentary wine list. My wine server was very snobby. He told me which order to drink my wines in and laughed at me for trying to taste a red wine before a white, taking away some of the fun of self-discovery, but making the experience better I'm sure. What else to expect from a wine connoisseur but a little attitude. Also look for special events where you can try fine food and wine from all over the globe. There is a restaurant attached to the winery for the days that have no special events being held. Be sure to go on the tour where they'll take you in to see the fermentation tanks and the barrels of wine but the best part is the bottling area, stock full of crates of wine being kept in an extraordinarily warm setting. Wait, isn't that not good for wine?

Posted By:  Noah Albert
Photo:  Noah Albert

After opening in 1923 the Breed Street Shul was home to Congregation Talmud Torah and a foundation of the historic Boyle Heights Jewish community. Between the 1920's and 1950's this neighborhood was the largest Jewish community west of the Mississippi and home to 30 synagogues—the Breed Street Shul was the largest Orthodox temple west of Chicago. But in the ‘50s the Jewish community began moving to West Los Angeles and the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys. Very few remnants of the historic Boyle Heights Jewish community remain. After limping along for years, the Breed Street Shul performed its last service in 1996. But in 2000 the Jewish Historical Society acquired the building. The first phase of renovation has already occurred which included fixing the 47 stained glass windows. A second phase which would involve many more repairs remains to be undertaken. The plan is to create a small synagogue, a museum, and a community center that recognizes and serves the current Latino population of Boyle Heights. Fund raising continues. This temple was designed by Abram M. Edelman (also responsible for the Wilshire Boulevard Temple) in the Byzantine Revival style. There is also an older (1915) wooden synagogue on the site.

Posted By:  Noah Albert
Photo:  Noah Albert

Mariachi Plaza
Earlier in the century, Boyle Heights was home to a wide variety of peoples—Jews, Russians, Japanese, African-Americans, Armenians, and on and on. Modern day Boyle Heights is a predominantly Latino neighborhood and Mariachi Plaza (soon to be a station on the Gold Line) is where the mariachis actually hang out in search of gigs. Their presence is felt in the surrounding blocks just thru the huge number of vans—mini-vans, old beaters, even RVs—used to transport groups of mariachis and their instruments. Built in 1889, not a hotel any more, and across the street from the plaza, the Boyle Hotel offers affordable apartments to many of these same musicians. The building was recently bought by the East LA Community Corporation in an effort to preserve affordable housing for this community. Hopefully the new owners will also be able to improve living conditions in this old building which has definitely seen brighter days. The lofts in downtown LA and subway station under construction right there by the plaza are clear evidence of the impending changes and challenges to the culture and history of the area. Keeping this building out of the hands of greedy developers is one small step.

Posted By:  Noah Albert
Photo:  Noah Albert

At 1.8 million square feet, the Sears Building in Boyle Heights is the largest building in Los Angeles. If that perks your interest, it is also apparently up for sale by its owners. The building was built in 1927 by the Sears corporation, who still operate a retail center on the site (big place, friendly staff; I bought a pair of Levis and almost an Carhart jacket). While they still operate this retail location, Sear's catalog business declined and they sold the property in 1992. It is now in the hands of MJW Investments, a firm that has bought, sold, and developed a number of sites downtown (notably Santee Court, Santee Village, and the Gerry Building). Initially MJW was planning to develop the site—however in mid-2006 they changed their tune and placed the property on the market. The building is an iconic site with its 14 story Art Deco Sears sign, and it has been nominated as a historical landmark. Much of the property is underused and ripe for development, if anyone dares undertake such a monumental project.

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