310 vs 213

You might know that I am the co-host of an event series called design east of La Brea, or de LaB. We like to feature designers, architects, artists and various other urban instigators who are working, making and experimenting—you guessed it!—east of La Brea, one of the major north-south streets that bisects LA.

When my co-founder Haily Zaki and I were deciding on de LaB’s name in 2007, we knew we wanted to focus on the east side of LA. Not only because we were sick of hightailing it out to Santa Monica for all the architecture events, but also because we felt there was so much more interesting stuff happening over on the east side—activity that wasn’t necessarily on the radar of well-funded design organizations. Plus, the west side of LA seemed to have plenty of money to hold sleepy panel discussions and nicely catered receptions. The east side had less resources for big events, yet had so much enthusiasm for any kind of community-building activity.

However, we chose the demarcation line of La Brea rather randomly. I lived between Highland and La Brea at the time, so of course I wanted to count myself on the “good” side. And if you look at a map of the entire 500-square-mile city of Los Angeles, La Brea does fall at the physical midway mark. But it was honestly more of a gut reaction than anything—there’s something about crossing over parts of La Brea that, to me, just feels like you’re rolling into a different part of the city. Scrappy vs. established, maybe. And amazingly, that one little decision has been a serious point of contention. People honestly pull us aside and tell us why it actually should be design east of Vermont or design east of Highland. de Ver? de High?

But I quickly learned that this is one of those LA things that people will always want to brawl about discuss. Like the Venice residents who proudly declare themselves AWOL (always west of Lincoln), there are people who pride themselves on how rarely they cross Western (always east of Western?). And this has been going on for some time, according to this clip (above) from the LA Weekly circa 1988. They use Fairfax instead of La Brea, and this was, of course, before the 323 area code came about, but the sentiment remains the same: Some people are 310s and some people are 213s. And that’s just the way it is.

Thanks to Brian Lane, principal of Koning Eizenberg for sending this to me. And coincidentally, de LaB will be featuring Brian and Koning Eizenberg’s newest project, a remodel of the Best Western Hollywood Hills at our January 24 event. All are welcome, no matter what side of La Brea you live on.