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Leimert Park is pulsing with culture

Photography and audio by Anne Cusack

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Back in the 1920s, developer Walter H. Leimert built a neighborhood on farm land where soy once grew. He donated a piece of land to the city, and in exchange, the city named it after him: Leimert Park.

Today you can stroll through Leimert Park Plaza -- a small, triangular patch of greenery at the foot of the Baldwin Hills -- sit on a bench, listen to water cascading in the fountain and, on special occasions, watch dancers move to the rhythms of African drums.

In the village shopping district surrounding West 43rd Place and Degnan Boulevard, there are barber shops and beauty salons, Eso Won books, Afrocentric boutiques and art galleries, and takeout joints and Southern-style restaurants that feature live jazz and blues.

This stretch of L.A. celebrates Kwanzaa and Christmas and is the last stop on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade.

It is a neighborhood rich with Art Deco apartments and office buildings, Spanish colonial-style homes and post-World War II bungalows, including one where former Mayor Tom Bradley once lived.

If you're looking for the cultural heartbeat of black Los Angeles, look no further. Leimert Park is the spot.

--John L. Mitchell

What is Street Scenes?

Southern California is a vast land of neighborhoods. Drive Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles, for example, and you'll encounter industrial blocks, the garment district, Koreatown, West L.A. bungalows and the burgeoning entertainment district at the eastern end of Santa Monica.
But most of us don't spend time driving from neighborhood to neighborhood--so L.A. Times photographers have done it for us. Throughout the summer, we'll spotlight their portraits of a variety of neighborhoods, ranging from the Fairfax District to Newport Harbor.

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