History

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.

wahshmap

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.  

LouiseBeavers_1_-153x204Another 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.

PearlBailey_1_-172x228_1_-210x273Soon 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.

HattieMcDaniel_1_-178x261The 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.  

ray_charles_150_1_-166x311But 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.

Comments are closed.