Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Thriller in LA: Angelino Heights

In the next few posts I'll share some interesting sights from our recent visit to Los Angeles, one of my favorite cities.  Victorian architecture probably doesn't come immediately to mind when you think of LA, but it should!  Angelino Heights is a beautifully intact Victorian neighborhood in the Echo Park district between Sunset Boulevard and the Hollywood Freeway.

Angelino Heights dates to 1886 and was LA's first Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ).  The Bunker Hill district is older, but is no longer residential; downtown and urban renewal took it over a long time ago.  By contrast, single family homes still dominate Angelino Heights, and owners have lovingly restored many of them.  While you will see Craftsman, Mission Revival, Art Deco, and other styles of architecture in the neighborhood, the dominant theme is Victorian, especially on Carroll and Kellam Avenues.

One of the most striking attributes of Angelino Heights is its hilly topography and proximity to downtown.  Many homes have dramatic views looking down at the city skyline.  You can even catch a glimpse of the iconic tower of LA City Hall peeking over a high-rise in the distance.

Some of the homes in the neighborhood are quite large...

...others are smaller, but no less elaborate...

...and some are for sale and in need of an owner who will bring them back!

An unrestored Victorian house like this one can take on a forbidding appearance late at night.  Maybe that's why part of Michael Jackson's Thriller was filmed in Angelino Heights!  Look for the scene toward the end when he and the zombies chase his girlfriend into an old house!  Luckily, in the real world, this appealing neighborhood is filled with all the beautiful things that thrive in the California climate.

I spent an enjoyable morning walking the streets of Angelino Heights, admiring the homes, taking pictures, and meeting some of the residents.  I received a warm welcome from people eager to share their love for their neighborhood and these wonderful homes.  I wasn't surprised.  Without exception, I've learned the only things better than the exceptional buildings in this kind of neighborhood are the people.  There is a shared experience that brings everyone together.  

There's much more to Angelino Heights than I've shown you here.  This historic neighborhood is well worth visiting the next time you're in Los Angeles.  Coming up, a bit of LA Noir worth celebrating. You might want to read a little Raymond Chandler before my next post!

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