When California was still part of Mexico the neighborhood now known as Boyle Heights was then called, Paredon Blanco, which translates to mean, “white bluff”. Today, the neighborhood is named after Andrew Boyle, an Irishman who purchased 22 acres of land on the bluffs that overlook the Los Angeles River. Boyle purchased the land after he served time-fighting in the Mexican-American War. Between 1889 and 1909 the city of Los Angeles finalized the Ninth Ward Development Association, which divided the city into nine different wards, applying the name “Heights” to all of the territories situated across the highlands.
In the 1950’s Boyle Heights was known as a colorfully diverse community with an ethnic diversity that included Jews, Latinos, various sectarian Spiritual Christians from Russia, Serbian and Croatian immigrants, Portuguese people, and Japanese Americans. Today, Boyle Heights is considerably less diverse with a total population nearing 93,000 people, 94% of whom are Latino. The area is also now home to one of the youngest demographics, with the lowest income in the city, having a median age of just twenty-five and average household income just over $33,000. With a community mix of Mexican Americans, Mexican immigrants, and Central American ethnic residents, Hector Tobar of the Los Angeles Times described Boyle Heights today by saying, “The diversity that exists in Boyle Heights today is exclusively Latino.” The Latino community’s influence is noted by neighborhood landmarks like the Estrada Courts Murals, Mariachi Plaza, Self-Help Graphics and Arts, and Lucha Underground Temple.
The natural urban landscape of Boyle Heights has made it a filming hotspot, including movies such as Nuts in May, The Pajama Game, Boulevard Nights, The Other Side of the Bridge, Born in East L.A., American Me, Blook In Blood Out, Dangerous Minds, Under the Same Moon, The Take, A Better Life, and Lucha Underground. Many now-famous people like Lou Adler, Will.I.Am., Antonio Villaraigosa, Edward R. Roybal, and Donald Sterling have all been Boyle Heights residents.
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