In 2014, a Huffington Post headline asked, “Is Echo Park the Best Neighborhood in LA?” Clearly, many Angelenos said yes. By the end of last year, overall home sales in the area were up 40 percent. What’s behind the boom? The same things that have drawn people to Echo Park for generations.
Since the beginning, Echo Park has offered an interesting mix of working class families and emerging artists. A central LA location. And a rich history that keeps things feeling real. For such a small neighborhood, there’s a wide range of homes, from simple houses in the flats to spectacular mansions. There’s also a large concentration of cultural and architectural landmarks. Enclaves include the Victorian showcase of Angelino Heights, the creative hotbed of Elysian Heights and Historic Filipinotown (HiFi), the cultural hub for Filipinos throughout LA.
The heart of the neighborhood is one of the most iconic parks in Los Angeles. Its fountain- and lotus-filled lake, recently re-engineered, re-landscaped and rehabilitated, is the birthplace of both the neighborhood and its name. In the early 1890s, subdivided lots began to spring up around Reservoir #4, a drinking water storage facility. (The story is that when workers building the reservoir noticed an echo, a name was born.) The city soon stepped in and transformed the reservoir into a lake surrounded by lush parklands.
Around the same time, oil was discovered on the southern edge of the neighborhood, touching off the LA oil boom. Early movie pioneers Walt Disney and Mack Sennet both built studios in the area, and evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson broadcast from her lavish Angelus Temple here. Pre-WWII, the area was nicknamed Red Hill for radicals like Woody Guthrie, who lived here. Other notable residents have included director John Huston, painter Jackson Pollock, musicians Glenn Frey and Jackson Browne, and actors Seth Green and Leonardo DiCaprio.
In a recent article about the neighborhood, one writer raved, “the gorgeous view of Downtown over the lake is about as L.A. as it gets.” Just like Echo Park itself.