West Los Angeles

From Academic Kids

West Los Angeles, also called the Westside, is generally considered to be the portion of Los Angeles, California and its suburbs that lies east of the Pacific Ocean including Brentwood, west of La Brea Avenue (varying definitions set the boundary at Fairfax Avenue or even the eastern border of Beverly Hills), south of the Santa Monica Mountains, and north of the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Confusingly, "West Los Angeles" is also the name of a neighborhood-level district of the city of Los Angeles, located generally to the west of the junction of Santa Monica Boulevard (California State Highway 2) and the San Diego Freeway. Much like South Central Los Angeles, the name of a specific area gradually came to encompass the culturally similar areas around it; thus, this article concerns the Westside as a whole.

Missing image
The Westside as seen looking north from Loyola Marymount University . The 405 Freeway is invisible on the far left side of the picture, and the large buildings in the distance are mostly along Wilshire Boulevard in the Westwood district. The tall buildings on the right side of the picture are in the Century City district. The Santa Monica Mountains are to the north.

Business and Transportation

Many of the major educational, retail, cultural, and recreational attractions of Greater Los Angeles are located in the area, as is a large portion of the entertainment industry. Century City is the major business hub of the Westside, containing many major production corporations, talent agencies, and entertainment law firms. Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and new developments near LAX are also important entertainment industry centers. Indeed, far more "Hollywood" business is conducted on the Westside than in Hollywood itself. The Westside rivals downtown Los Angeles for the number of people commuting to it from other areas, particularly the San Fernando Valley to the north and the South Bay to the south.

The Westside's traffic congestion is legendary. Although once served by the Pacific Electric Railroad's streetcars, it was the first region of Los Angeles to be developed largely around the automobile, and is notorious for its lack of significant public transportation. Its residents are also noted for their NIMBY attitude toward transportation projects such as the Exposition Boulevard light rail line and the Wilshire Boulevard extension of the MTA Red Line subway, although this has begun to change as traffic continues to attenuate the region's quality of life. The almost transcendently gridlocked San Diego Freeway is the primary transportation corridor in the region, and much of the area's commercial development is along it. The proposed Pacific Coast, Beverly Hills, and Laurel Canyon freeways undoubtedly would have sped up the region's traffic flow, but went unbuilt in the face of massive community opposition; unfortunately, a great deal of high-density development took place in anticipation of these roadways' construction, resulting in significant congestion on the area's surface streets. In particular, getting to Hollywood from the West Side is notoriously difficult, with major east-west streets between the regions jammed during virtually all waking hours.


The Westside is generally thought of as the white part of the city of Los Angeles, in contrast to Latino-dominated East Side, the Latino and Asian areas such as Pico-Union and Koreatown in and around downtown, and the black and Latino neighborhoods of South Central. Despite the two areas' relative proximity, many Westsiders rarely cross the Santa Monica Freeway into South Central, or at least they go no further east or south than the University of Southern California campus and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. In fact, a longstanding phrase amongst Westside natives is "Life ends east of Sepulveda."

Those less inclined to view the Westside in racially reductive terms find the community to be quite culturally diverse, with most non-European ethnicities represented in an enclave or small business district somewhere in the region.


The "Westside" was often mentioned in West Coast rap and gangsta rap music, especially during the mid-to-late 1990s. However, this refers to the black-dominated areas of South Central (such as Crenshaw and Jefferson Park) located west of the Harbor Freeway. While Palms, Culver City, and parts of Venice and Santa Monica have significant black populations, they have always been considered distinct from the traditionally black neighborhoods of South Central. Culver City's Fox Hills area, which adjoins traditionally upper-class black areas such as Ladera Heights and Baldwin Hills, is similarly black and wealthy, although deal-hungry white, Asian, and Latino families are an increasing presence in the district.

East Asian

Sawtelle Boulevard, especially between Pico and Santa Monica boulevards, became a center of Japanese business and culture in the first half of the 20th century, when restrictive covenants and laws made it impossible to purchase property in adjoining, incorporated areas. As a particular profession of Japanese in Los Angeles was gardening, the street was filled with plant nurseries and related stores. Today, many of the nurseries have been replaced by shops and offices that still cater to Japanese and Japanese-Americans, including two Giant Robot stores that feature all kinds of Japanese pop culture collectibles.


Further south on Sawtelle, in the Mar Vista neighborhood, is the traditional barrio of the Sotel gang, which draws its members from descendants of the Latino farmhands who worked the orchards and bean fields that once covered the area. Today, most of the population immediately to the southwest of the 10-405 junction is now young white and Asian professionals and UCLA students drawn to the area's cheap rents and large UCLA housing complex, but enormous Latino communities are still found in Culver City and Palms. Palms also plays host to a small, closely-knit Brazilian community, with several restaurants and shops catering to it.

Middle Eastern/South Asian

Rancho Park and Westwood host a large Iranian/Persian exile community that is apparent by the numerous bookstores and restaurants on Westwood Boulevard with signage in both Persian and English. Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and West Hollywood have also become major destinations for upwardly mobile Persians, with ethnic Iranians comprising perhaps as much as a quarter of the population of Beverly Hills. The fondness of arriviste Persians for enormous, ornately decorated two- or three-story pink stucco mansions, usually built on lots that originally contained small bungalows or Mediterranean villas and derisively known as "Persian palaces," has generated considerable friction with the area's established European-descent population: in 2004, West Hollywood enacted strict new building regulations widely seen as targeting the Persian population.

Further south, Palms is considered one of the major centers of Indian and especially Pakistani life in Los Angeles. Venice Boulevard is lined with numerous Indian restaurants and groceries, and a Hari Krishna shrine is located in the heart of the neighborhood. Hijab-clad Pakistani women are a frequent sight in Palms, particularly in the western blocks of the district.

"The 310"

Area code 310 covers most of West Los Angeles and is commonly synonymous with it: young people often refer to the region as "the 310." Ironically, area code 310 also covers some of the poorest communities in the Los Angeles area, such as Gardena and Compton.

West Side communities


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