The West Adams District and West Adams Heights
West Adams as a district is considerably large, stretching from Figueroa Street on the east to Western Blvd. on the west, and from Pico Blvd. on the north to Jefferson Blvd. on the south. Within its borders are a number of incredible museums, the University of Southern California, the Staples Center, the new Nokia theater and the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Downtown with its vibrant fashion, jewelry, flower and toy districts is five minutes away. The Santa Monica Freeway, gateway to Southern California, runs conveniently through West Adams, connecting the eastern regions of the Southland to the beach in Santa Monica.
West Adams is among the most diverse communities in the city. In the 80s it began a small influx of whites and the immigration of Latinos. In the same period Asians and Black professionals continued to move into the community. Today there is a mingling of many cultures, creating a unique and varied way of life.
Sugar Hill is a small, vibrant sub-set of the West Adams District, properly known as West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill. Its boundaries can be seen in the map below.
The architectural splendor and rich history of West Adams community between Western Boulevard and USC make it a must see for visitors and local history buffs.
West Adams was developed between 1900 and 1920 to provide elegant homes to Los Angeles’ entrepreneurial elites. Oils barons, vintners, railroad magnates, and real estate developers hired top architects of their day to create mansions in a variety of styles. Its wealthy residents of the 1920s included lawyers, doctors, oil baron Edward L. Doheny, Port of Los Angeles developer Randolph Huntington Minor, and a host of other prominent Los Angeles citizens.
During the 1930s depression era West Adams hit hard times. Homeowners were forced to either sell their homes, or to rent out rooms to boarders.
Another change for West Adams occurred in the early 1940s as successful African-American entertainers moved into West Adams Heights and dubbed it “Sugar Hill.” But Whites opposed the integration of West Adams. Among the famous residents of West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill was actresses Louise Beavers, Hattie McDaniel (the first African-American to win a Oscar) and Earl Grant (jazz organist). Their efforts were rewarded in 1948 when the United States Supreme Court declared racial restrictions housing unconstitutional.
Soon West Adams was the place for wealthy African-Americans who quickly became the dominant group. The first African-American to run for city council was Courtland G. Mitchell who lived in West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill at 2048 South Oxford Avenue.
The late 1950s/early 1960s the Santa Monica Freeway cut through part of West Adams. The Freeway also divided West Adams Heights/ Sugar Hill. Some of our most significant home were lost to the freeway project and the
area began to decline through the 1970s.
But in the beginning of the 1980s, with a healthy economy and many African-Americans in well-paying professions, homeowners started investing in the old mansions, remodeling and restoring the historic homes. Other professionals were attracted to the architecture and lush old neighborhood and brought increased diversity.
Communications experts, writers, academics, artists and Hollywood talent discovered the convenience of West Adams – one of Los Angeles’ most diverse communities.