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Crenshaw, Los Angeles, California


Crenshaw, Los Angeles, California

Mural of African-American Progress, Crenshaw Boulevard
Coordinates: 34°01′05″N 118°20′26″W / 34.01810°N 118.34064°W / 34.01810; -118.34064 Crenshaw (also known as The Crenshaw District) is a neighborhood[1] and district in southwestern Los Angeles, California. It derives its name from Crenshaw Boulevard, one of the city's principal thoroughfares.

Crenshaw is bordered by Chesterfield Square on the east, Hyde Park on the south, View Park-Windsor Hills on the west. It includes Leimert Park. The district's boundaries are roughly Van Ness and Arlington Avenues on the east, Exposition Boulevard on the north, La Brea Avenue near Baldwin Hills on the west, and roughly Stocker Street & Slauson Avenue on the south. The Crenshaw Strip is the area directly on Crenshaw between Exposition Boulevard on the north and Vernon Avenue on the south.


The area is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Crenshaw High School, which is south of Martin Luther King Boulevard and east of Crenshaw Boulevard, is the local public high school.

Charter schools in the area include the KIPP KIPP Academy of Opportunity[2] middle school, Celerity Nascent Charter School[3] the New Design Charter School (built in 2004), the View Park Preparatory Charter High School,[4] and the View Park Preparatory Charter Middle School.[5]


Crenshaw is a largely residential area of single-story bungalows and low-rise apartment buildings, with an industrial corridor along Jefferson Boulevard, and several commercial districts.

Developed from the early 1920s onward, Crenshaw was initially a very diverse neighborhood of Whites (including many Jewish Americans and other Eastern Europeans). Covenants on property deeds barred African Americans and Asian Americans from owning real estate in Crenshaw. During preparations for the 1932 Summer Olympics, Crenshaw's sidewalks and medians, like other Los Angeles neighborhoods, were planted with towering palm trees that, to this day, dominate the area's otherwise low-rise skyline.

After courts ruled segregation covenants to be unconstitutional, the area opened up to other races. A large Japanese American settlement ensued, which can still be found along Coliseum Street, east and west of Crenshaw Boulevard. Blacks started arriving in the 1960s, and by the 1970s were the majority.

Since the 1970s, Crenshaw, Leimert Park and neighboring areas together have formed one of the largest African-American communities in the western United States. Crenshaw suffered heavy damage from both the 1992 Los Angeles riots and the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Crenshaw has significant middle-class areas, and some areas with some poverty rates such as Baldwin Village.

In 2006, the population of Crenshaw was around 27,600. Recently, with some increased middle-class Black migration to cities in the Inland Empire section of Southern California, the black percentage of the population is down to 63.34% of the population, followed by Latinos (any race) at 30%,[6] White (not Latino), 16.89%; Asian, 4.37%; American Indians, 0.43%; Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders, 0.20%; other races, 9.20%; two or more races, 9.32%.

Notable buildings

The Crenshaw district is known for the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza shopping mall, which is home to a tri-level Wal-Mart (formerly a Broadway store and later Macy's), a Sears and a Macy's, as well as many big stores. A bid to bring Nordstrom to the mall did not work out. The West Angeles Church of God in Christ, on the corner of Crenshaw and Exposition, is home to Bishop Charles E. Blake.

A misconception is that Crenshaw Christian Center is located in the Crenshaw district. Crenshaw Christian Center is actually located at 7901 Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles. The church was originally situated in the Morningside Park district of Inglewood on Crenshaw Boulevard at Hardy Street.

The Crenshaw Square sign, a local landmark, had been in serious disrepair for years. In 2007, it was replaced by a modern red-and-green sign that lights up at night.

Santa Barbara Plaza was a shopping center in the district. This aging center was in disrepair and is a failed redevelopment project, for which much money has been spent but little has been achieved until in 2011 when Marlton Square Santa Barbara Plaza was demolished and will bring new stores in the furture.[7]

The Holiday Bowl was a center of activity during the 60s and 70s in Crenshaw. It featured a sushi bar known as the Sakiba Lounge with live musical acts. Its historic Googie architecture has been retained by the new Starbucks in that location.


In the post-World War II era, a Japanese-American community was established in Crenshaw. There was an area Japanese school called Dai-Ichi Gakuen. Due to a shared sense of being discriminated against, many of the Japanese-Americans had close relationships with the African-American community.[8] At its peak, it was one of the largest Japanese-American settlements in California, with about 8,000 residents around 1970, and Dai-Ichi Gakuen had a peak of 700 students.[9]

Beginning in the 1970s the Japanese American community began decreasing in size and Japanese-American businesses began leaving. Scott Shibya Brown stated that "some say" the effect was a "belated response" to the 1965 Watts riots and that "several residents say a wave of anti-Japanese-American sentiment began cropping up in the area, prompting further departures."[9] 82-year old Jimmy Jike was quoted in the Los Angeles Times in 1993, stating that it was mainly mainly because the residents' children, after attending universities, moved away.[9] By 1980, there were there were 4,000 Japanese ethnic residents, half of the previous size.[9] By 1990 there were 2,500 Japanese-Americans, mostly older residents. By 1993, the community was diminishing in size, with older Japanese Americans staying but with younger ones moving away.[8] That year, Dai-Ichi Gakuen had 15 students.[9]

Crenshaw Boulevard

Main article: Crenshaw Boulevard

Crenshaw Boulevard is a major thoroughfare that runs through the Crenshaw district and outside of it.

Notable residents and natives


External links

  • [1] Leimert Park Beat, a collaborative online community
  • [2] Articles about the Crenshaw district in the Los Angeles Times.
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