Not to be confused with similarly named city in Ventura County, the neighborhood simply known as Westlake is a residential and commercial community located in the central region of the City of Los Angeles. Primarily developed in the 1920’s, a good majority of the original mansions that strewn the area have been converted into multi-occupancy apartment buildings, with many new multi-unit housing structures being constructed as well to join them. Known for being a densely populated, primarily Latino community, Westlake is home to nearly 110,000 residents all living within the neighborhood’s 2.72 square mile region. There are a staggering 40,000 residents per square mile, making Westlake the second-highest density of any communities in Los Angeles County.
The once charming and opulent community of Westlake entered into steep decline in the 1980’s when the area was infused with refugees from Central American countries where civil war had displaced millions of people. The young Salvadorans who immigrated to the area formed the gang, Mara Salvatrucha, which eventually grew to expand into thirty-three other states and five countries. By 1990 gang influence over the community transformed Westlake into nothing short of a completely grim area. It took more than seventeen years for gentrification to hit the area and the City of Los Angeles did not launch a campaign to combat illegal activities until January of 2012.
In spite of the neighborhood’s struggles, the community of Westlake has managed to maintain a proud SoCal history and boasts being home to original local famous places in Los Angeles like the original El Pollo Loco, the Original Tommy’s, and even the still operating Westlake Theater. Westlake is also a great jumping off point to experience fun things to do in L.A. like checking out Kang Ho-Dong Baekjong, Wiltern Theatre, Taylor’s, Ahgassi Gopchang, Langer’s Deli, Galleria Market, Chapman Plaza, Bullocks Wilshire, Koreatown Galleria, Snowla Shavery, Oo-Kook, Beer Belly, Slurpin’ Ramen, or Somi Somi.
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