Koreatown

Koreatown

Koreatown is a neighborhood in the Mid-Wilshire district of the city of Los Angeles known for its concentration of Korean American people and cultural institutions. The neighborhood is centrally located in the city of Los Angeles and lies 3 miles west of downtown, 4 miles southeast of Hollywood, 12 miles from Santa Monica Beach and 16 miles from Los Angeles International Airport. The neighborhood is in the midst of a construction boom that has helped fuel an influx of new residents priced out from nearby Los Feliz and West Hollywood.

Settlement of the neighborhood first began in the 1870's. In 1884, Henry Gaylord Wilshire had arrived with his family in Los Angeles and began purchasing lots in the neighborhoods of Hancock Park, Westlake Park and Lafayette Park, including a 35-acre tract on the edge of Hancock Park and the northwestern section of what later became Koreatown.  A 1911 donation to a local church led to the construction of the Wilshire Christian Church--the first church on Wilshire Boulevard. In 1913, Wilshire Boulevard received its first high-rise building with the construction of the 10-story Bryson Apartment Hotel, which was eventually purchased in 1944 by film actor Fred MacMurray. With Hollywood officially becoming part of the city of Los Angeles, many of its luminaries, including Mary Pickford and Harold Lloyd, built homes in the area, as did Los Angeles Times founder Harrison Gray Otis. Other notable residents to move into the area were Isaac Van Nuys and G. Allen Hancock.  The 1930's saw the height of the neighborhood's association with Hollywood and the Ambassador Hotel hosted the Academy Awards ceremony in 1930, 1931, 1932, and 1934.  Towards the end of the 1950's, the trend to move westward and into the suburbs swept Downtown's financial and commercial businesses, with many relocating to the neighborhood's business district along Wilshire Boulevard between Vermont and Western Avenues. A number of 20 and 30-story office high-rise buildings were erected in Koreatown during this period,  including the headquarters of Getty Oil, H.F. Ahmanson & Co., Equitable Life Insurance, Beneficial Financial Group, and Wausau Financial. The area saw a heavy influx of Koreans during the 1960's, after restrictions on immigration to the United States from East Asia were lifted in 1965, and the 1970's, saw even more Koreans settling in Wilshire Center, which was christened "Koreatown"  during this time.
 
In 2000, the City of Los Angeles began to promote smart growth and removed many of the parking, low-housing, bed, pollution, tourist, and new construction taxes that restricted redevelopment and new construction, with Koreatown as the ideal and model for the future of L.A. Most importantly however, Koreatown is in the center of the city of Los Angeles and is well-served by public-transit.  Today,  the neighborhood is known for its many commercial and residential high-rise towers, historic buildings, Asian high-fashion boutiques, and the largest concentration of nightclubs and 24-hour businesses and restaurants in Southern California.  Koreatown has several shopping centers that cater to a variety of customer needs and there are many mini-malls and individual stores that sell ethnic products favored by the local residents.  A smorgasbord of restaurants can be found in Koreatown from every food category and culture. With a huge array of tofu houses, Korean BBQ, Mexican taco stands, bakeries, Greek gyros, pizza, Vietnamese Pho noodle houses, Thai, Salvadoran pupuserías, boba parlors, Chinese food,  American hamburger stands, coffee houses and steakhouses, it is common to find several of these types of restaurants in a single Koreatown shopping plaza, mini-mall, or city block.
 

Owing to its high concentration of residents and history of multi-generational families, Koreatown has a large number of highly rated elementary and secondary schools within its borders including Alexandria Avenue Elementary School, Young Oak Kim Academy, Mariposa-Nabi Primary Center, Virgil Middle School, Berendo Middle School, Belmont High School, Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools and West Adams Preparatory High School.  There are also several private schools that can be found in Koreatown including Mid-Wilshire Christian School, Wilshire Blvd. Temple, and St. Brendan School.  The Wilshire School, the only Korean-American K-6 elementary school in the nation, is nearby in the Hancock Park area of Los Angeles.