Heliotrope and Melrose, originally uploaded by LA Wad.

A wonderful deviation.

“LA WAD” on Flickr describes a thriving group of storefronts in East Hollywood where bicyclists, pedestrians and restaurants are getting along well.

My observation is that I wish architectural and social arrangements like this were the norm, and not the exception in greater Los Angeles.

2 thoughts on “Heliotrope and Melrose

  1. Heliotrope may be good today, yet has had one of the most checkered pasts of any local street I can recall. Some times, there would be a good restaurant on the west side of the street, yet the balance of the street was dead, as in dead!!!
    These neighborhood-type strips will always be dicey for tenants, as if there is no parking, customers will drive to where parking is available.
    Until LA becomes a city where everyone shops locally, and does not use a car to do so, these strips will be barely able to survive, regardless of how much the locals might like them to do so.
    Parking and convenience are still the names of the game.


  2. Andrew, first of all, thanks for using my shot!

    Architecturally, L.A. is teeming with places like this. For every strip mall, you’ll see a pre-1940s row of storefronts on major streets. Sometimes, with housing over them.

    Socially, this neighborhood is one-of-a-kind. It happened to have the right mix of businesses that gives it that Jane Jacobsean feel.

    The Bicycle Kitchen and Orange 20 bike shop bring in L.A.’s biking community.

    City College Cafe brings in the students from LACC.

    Scoops is the biggest traffic generator here, as people come from all over L.A. to try the unique ice cream. It mushroomed just by word of mouth and viral social media. The owner doesn’t advertise or even have a Web site.

    What makes it special is how the bike shops, coffeehouse and ice cream place, all disconnected, just let it happen.

    In the past few months, there have been a couple of restaurants open up on Melrose across the street from here.

    I have to warn you, though. This photo is the tasty meat in an ugly architecture sandwich.

    To the immediate left of this is the colossal LACC parking garage. For about a quarter mile, it presents a blank face (apart from grilles to show the cars inside) to Heliotrope. The garage is a wasted resource. LACC had been planning it since the 1990s with a combination of demographic projections and L.A.-style parking regulations. The school was prepared for a huge wave of students, and expected all students and faculty to drive here. The “wave” was a trickle, and about a quarter of the students take public transit.

    East of Heliotrope you have a golf driving range that put up a 15-story eyesore of a catch net that still has the occasional golf ball escape and pose a harm to the campus.


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