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Angelino Heights - LA's Oldest Suburb

January 27, 2015

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While living in a major city, it is easy to overlook the history. Los Angeles is the 2nd biggest city in the US, one full of opportunity and ideas, huge buildings and modern homes. It’s easy to fall in love with LA, everything is appealing: the weather, the location, the culture and the lifestyle. I moved here from Chicago over four years ago and I was instantly hooked. After living in different areas around the city, my girlfriend and I got lucky and stumbled upon a quiet neighborhood just east of Echo Park called Angelino Heights.

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Those who are familiar with Los Angeles and its neighborhoods know that Echo Park used to be one of the worst areas in the city. It has since gone through a ton of changes and now is a popular and trendy area with a completely remodeled park/lake, amazing views of the city, and great restaurants and nightlife.

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We weren’t sure what we were getting into, since we were both unfamiliar with the neighborhood, but we were in for quite the surprise. Angelino Heights was everything we wanted it to be, quiet, friendly, scenic and right next to downtown. The Victorian homes and steep hills made us feel more like we were living in San Francisco.

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Angelino Heights was created at the height of the Southern California land boom of the mid 1880s. The elevation of the hill offered an amazing city view and a quiet suburban atmosphere for the upper middle class residents. A cable car was located right off Temple Street and could bring residents downtown within minutes. Plans for the 101 Freeway started in 1924 and its construction went on for years, stretching through the Cahuenga Pass to Studio City. The 101 tore Angelino Heights in half, and a bridge was built from Edgeware Street across the 101 to Temple Street. This gave the neighborhood it's tombstone-looking shape and brought a rush of new residents to the area.

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During the banking recession of 1888 construction of the heights stopped, which formed the Victorian island of houses that can still be seen today. From 1900 on, higher density housing surfaced and homes were turned to apartments. In 1970 many of the Victorian houses and historical structures were restored and in August 1983, Angelino Heights was declared the city’s first Historic Preservation Overlay Zone. What this means is, you can’t make changes to a historical house, can't renovate without extensive approvals,  and any new houses in the zone must be built using the same architecture and materials as the original antique homes.

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The highest concentration of preserved Queen Anne-Eastlake Victorian homes are on Carroll Avenue, although you can find them scattered throughout the neighborhood.

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These beautiful houses have a view of the LA skyline from their back windows...talk about property value!

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Historical artifacts such as this horse tie-up and boot scraping block can still be seen on Carroll Avenue today.

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Someone needs to refurbish this beauty. I believe it is for sale, but I can't imagine the asking price...

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The street is full of amazing houses, that have been restored and taken care of over the years. While living here, we would always see movies being filmed. The film industry loves this neighborhood and you can see these beautiful houses in tons of movies and TV shows. Some well known examples are: Mad Men, Deuce Bigalow, Charmed, Grandma’s Boy, Fast & Furious and Michael Jackson's Thriller video.

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A scene from Mad Men (below) looking back on chararcter Don Draper's childhood house (shown above today).

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3P1A0168The "Thriller" House today (above) and from 1982 (below) in Michael Jackson's famous 15 minute music video.

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The house used in Grandma's Boy (above) was used throughout the movie and made it onto the cover (below).

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This neighborhood truly is a hidden gem. We lived in the only actual apartment building in the heights. There are plenty of houses that act as multi-unit apartments, but this was the only four-story apartment building. It backed right up to the 101 and had one of the best roof views I have ever seen. I spent more time on the roof than in my apartment! The view was spectacular and I saw some incredible sunsets against the beautiful skyline. Being minutes from downtown and living across from one of the best schoolyards in the city made for some amazing skateboarding.

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If you are ever in the Silverlake or Echo Park area, head east of the park on Bellvue and cruise up Douglas. If you are going east on Sunset, turn right on Douglas. Definitely check this neighborhood out and take in the view from Carroll and Edgeware. You won’t see a lot of “for rent” signs, as these apartments go fast. For more information, history and some super old photos of Angelino Heights, check out: http://historicechopark.org/id58.html

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