Westwood Village is one of the liveliest neighborhoods in Los Angeles.
The pedestrian friendly streets are lined with Mediterranean-style buildings mixed with small businesses and national retailers. The bustling village is known as the most densely packed movie theatre district in the country and comes alive when Hollywood premieres take place at the Fox Village Theatre (945 Broxton Ave.; 310-208-5576) or across the street at Mannâ€™s Bruin (948 Broxton Ave.; 310-208-8998).
However, Westwood Village wasnâ€™t always such a cozy neighborhood.
Developed by the Janss family in the 1920s, the Westwood Village shopping district experienced its peak as a destination spot from the 1960s to the 80s when the streets were closed on weekends due to the massive amounts of people walking around the area.
The halcyon years of Westwood Village ended in 1988 when an innocent bystander, Karen Toshima, was killed by crossfire in a gang shooting. In 1991 a small riot shook the neighborhood after moviegoers were turned away from a screening of â€œNew Jack City,â€ a film about gang violence. These and other high profile incidents shattered the illusion of safety in this affluent West L.A. district. People stayed away and many merchants left.
Fortunately Westwood Village has bounced back and has again become a destination spot. The Geffen Playhouse (10886 Le Conte Ave.; 310-208-5454) recently underwent a $17-million renovation which increases the building size by 50 percent and provides a second stage for its resident theater company. The historic Geffen was built in 1929 as one of the first 12 structures in Westwood Village.
The UCLA Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Blvd.; 310-443-7000) opened to the public in 1990 and later partnered with the neighboring university. With the resources of UCLA, it has become a prominent arts institution in the cultural landscape of Los Angeles.
For those interested in continuing education, UCLA Extension (www.uclaextension.edu; 310-825-9971) has buildings scattered throughout Westwood Village including 1010 Westwood (1010 Westwood Blvd.), Lindbrook Center (10920 Lindbrook Dr.), Westwood Village Center (1083 Gayley Ave.) and the UCLA Extension Administrative Building (10995 Le Conte Ave.).
In its eleventh year, the Farmers Market continues to be popular. It takes place every Thursday, rain or shine, at Westwood and Weyburn from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Depending on the season, anywhere from 60 to 80 vendors and thousands of shoppers take over the street. For more information call 310-208-6115.
Lastly, since it is right next to a major college campus, Westwood Village is a good night life destination. UCLA students pack bars such as Maloneyâ€™s (1000 Gayley Ave.; 310-208-1942) and Westwood Brewing Company (1097 Glendon Ave.; 310-209-2739) on Friday and Saturday nights.
Street parking is difficult to the say least. If you donâ€™t want to pay for parking in one of the public lots or UCLA-owned garages, try the side streets around Westwood Village. There is usually parking along Veteran Ave. south of Wilshire Blvd and past the Federal Building.
WORLD - CITY LIVING
Copyright © 2010 Josh Marks
Heading to the Lively West
Copyright © 2010 Josh Marks
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