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The Epitome of Community Within a Los Angeles Housing Complex

Park La Brea, the nation's largest housing complex west of the Mississippi, like much of Los Angeles, has changed dramatically over the decades. Yet, an overwhelming sense of community and identity has endured.
October 5, 2012, 10am PDT | Andrew Gorden
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Once nick-named "Menopause Manor," owing to a choice demographic that once dominated the complex, Park La Brea has reinvented itself anew. Today, the complex is decidedly more diverse, like much of the surrounding city. Families, 20-somethings, and immigrants have found a home, and a strong sense of community identity, in Park La Brea.

"Many Angelenos will tell you - with a sense of pride - they once rented here," reports The Los Angeles Times' Matt Stevens. "Yet, although the architectural layout remains as intricate as ever across 160 acres, census data spanning four decades leave no doubt about the change. In 1970, whites made up about 95% of the nearly 7,000 residents, more than half of them over age 65. By 2010, with nearly 12,000 residents, only 44% were white and only 8% overall were over 65. Asians now make up the second-largest ethnic group, at 41%."

Still, a strong sense of a Park La Brea identity remains in the minds of many, from newly-arrived college students, to those who have been there for decades. "These days, the complex is a tapestry of skateboards and scooters, of tai chi and Jacuzzis," writes Stevens. "Sleek 15-foot-high light boxes mark one edge of the property on 6th Street; and inside, the grays, creams and golds of the taller buildings play off the Southern California sky."

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Published on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 in Los Angeles Times
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