Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
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East side: the center still doesn't want to hold

You are here, but where is that? And why?

In our perpetual effort to fix anchor the map of Los Angeles, Echo Park residents have been having another "where is the east side?" conversation on the EchoElysian online forum. The stream began May 7, and it's been lively. Around here, people take the matter personally. Chicken Corner has selected some of the comments (see below) that show a wide array of interpretation regarding our neighborhood's geographic orientation. Some people refer to history as a guide, some to contemporary life in the city, to the alphabet, to the river.

Here is the post that set off this round of cartographic angst:

I'm confused and finally decided to ask. Does someone know why Echo Park is called the East Side? I thought the East Side was east of the river.

A well-regarded real estate professional responded with:

One can refer to the original Ord Survey done around 1850 marking the center of L.A. in front of the Plaza Catholic Church. The monument marker is there today and at that time points west of the marker were numbered "west." Interpretations have changed over the ensuing 160 years, and the strict boundary no longer exists. Just like Edendale no longer exists except to preservationists and old-timers.

In answer to which one respondent looked to the traditions of small towns and cities all over the United States:

If we are speaking about the actual way the city is set up, everything east of Main St is the east side. Therefore, everything west of Main Street is the west side. And really, there is no West Sunset Boulevard. Officially, it's just Sunset.

Meanwhile, a different respondent looked to Western Ave.

As far as I know, Western Avenue marked what was originally considered the beginning of the western side of Los Angeles; east of Western is the east side. Across the river is East L.A., which is simply different from "the east side."

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Previous story on Chicken Corner: River as destination*

Next story on Chickn Corner: Directions from the Dog

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