Sunday, September 2, 2012

Uptown Whittier: Neat!

Looking north on Greenleaf Ave. Source: Google Maps.

So a lot has happened over the past several months, including lots of work on SurveyLA social media and a move to Whittier. I now live in a neighborhood called Uptown, which is the historic core of this municipality about 30 km east-southeast of Downtown Los Angeles. My humble abode is an apartment in a stucco box with a fake mansard roof.

Despite growing up in LA County, I hadn't stumbled upon this area until quite recently. Uptown embodies a lot of things that I appreciate from an urbanist's perspective. Land uses are mixed: stores and even some old factories are woven in with small-lot houses (some of which are protected in historic districts), small apartment buildings and even some townhouses. Whittier College sits to the east, infusing a population of young adults most of the year. There is a north-south main street called Greenleaf Avenue that is narrow (which slows traffic) and has sidewalk oriented shops (which makes for more interesting walking). Many of the shops are of the mom and pop variety. Parking is handled on-street or in several public lots and a public garage. The area has has a decent frequency of bus service thanks to the Montebello Bus Lines and the Gold Line might get here eventually. An old railroad right of way has been converted to a bike and pedestrian path with drought tolerant landscaping called the Whittier Greenway Trail. There are couple of amazing old buildings on Greenleaf, including an apartment building for seniors with ground-level shops and a masonry office building with engravings on the facade and an embellished cornice built in 1923. My personal favorite is the Whittier Village Cinemas, which has a pre-noon matinee price so amazing you probably wouldn't even believe me if I told you about it. There's vibrancy here day and night.

Sure, there are some rough edges, which the main local paper whines about from time to time. There are vacant stores and empty lots. You can find some people who are homeless if you look. But you know what? I say Uptown has very good bones, and I hope to support it in my little way for a while.

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