Black Space: Leimert Park Adjacent + Archival Photo Spotlight

Leimert Park is one of the most well known, historically Black neighborhoods in Los Angeles. It is a cultural epicenter, occupying a prominent space in both the musical history and urban folklore of the city.

Black Space: Leimert Park Adjacent + Archival Photo Spotlight
Vision Theatre, Leimert Park 2017.

Archival Recordings 13

I wanted to close out Black History Month with a feature on one of the most important areas in the city.

Leimert Park is one of the most well known, historically Black neighborhoods in Los Angeles. It is a cultural epicenter, occupying a prominent space in both the musical history and urban folklore of the city. Growing up in Los Angeles it was a place that I was drawn to, even living so far away from it. I knew I had to get there to get a glimpse of what it was all about and once I did, it left a lasting impression.

Leimert Park, Before the Fence. 2017

In the mid to late 90's, almost every kid in the city had rap dreams of some sort and I was no exception. The view from the underground was very different than what most people heard on the radio and that was where my focus was. It was a true golden era for hip-hop in Los Angeles, led by artists like Freestyle Fellowship, Dilated Peoples, The Pharcyde, The Alkaholics, Volume 10, Murs, and too many others to list. This movement was fueled by a set of influential weekly open mics that took place throughout the city, the biggest being Project Blowed at Leimert Park. This was where legends were made and egos were destroyed, many a out of town rapper on tour found out the hard way that Los Angeles took freestyling and battle rap VERY seriously. Simply put, if you wanted to make a name for yourself in the underground rap scene, you had to go through Project Blowed.

Garthewaite Avenue. Leimert Park, 2017.

Once I became a photographer, I began to visit the area with the intent to document the space before gentrification took hold. This was in about 2017, after my trip to New Orleans which inspired me to focus on historically Black areas. What I found at the time was a neighborhood that was relatively untouched but that has changed significantly in the years since. The addition of the Metro K line and the surge of investment that accompanied it has thrust the area into the spotlight. Already there are reports of developers trying to get people to sell their houses as the property values continue to rise. It's a familiar story in many other parts of the city and one that I hope Leimert Park can withstand. Los Angeles just wouldn't be the same without it.

Archival Recordings Photo Spotlight

Washington & Grand Ave. Los Angeles, 2008

I'm trying something a bit different, going into greater detail on a specific photograph from my archive. This issue I'm discussing my "Washington & Grand" photo from 2008.

This view of Downtown Los Angeles is probably unfamiliar to most people these days. The Burger King in this photo is long gone, replaced by a storage lot. The area has declined in general, despite the redevelopment in the surrounding area taking off. I took this picture from the third floor of the old LATTC building. I attended Los Angeles Trade Technical College for Visual Communications (graphic design) briefly when I was 19. My time there was cut short by my fathers passing and I never returned but I do have a positive association with the school. It was where I realized that I wanted to be designer and learned the basics of typography and composition.

I made this photograph using my first DSLR, a Nikon D50. It had a 6mp CCD sensor and looking back, those colors were really something special. Sensors these days have a ton of advantages but something about the images from back then pops in a whole different way. You can find this photograph in the new Archival Recordings Zine, available for purchase here:

You can also get a copy, along with 3 more sent to you this year by subscribing to the paid tier of Archival Recordings. Just hit the subscribe button for more info on that.

Parting Shots

If you like Archival Recordings, be sure to check out and subscribe to the LODM newsletter by my good friend Erwin Recinos. He's one of the best photographers I know and is an authentic voice out here in L.A. Check the link below for more info:

LODM Newsletter | Erwin Recinos | Substack
The personal Substack of Los Ojos de Muerte aka Erwin Recinos. This newsletter gives readers a glimpse of the Los Angeles urban landscape, street culture, and Los Angeles communities that I document. Click to read LODM Newsletter, by Erwin Recinos, a Substack publication with hundreds of subscribers.