As we tell people about our upcoming printed map and event guide, we often get the question, "What are you defining as Downtown?" Downtown Los Angeles, like the region that surrounds it, feels more abstract than your average city of where exactly it is and isn't. There are no geological barriers - no Hudson and East Rivers, no bay and ocean, no green belt of sprawling parkland. There are freeways that make some semblance of a loop, but Union Station - the transit hub of Los Angeles - sits above the 101 Freeway, as does Chinatown. And Under Ten, an emerging enclave of galleries and art studios that acknowledges itself as Downtown, sits under the 10 Freeway as our name for it suggests.
Rather than adhering to physical boundaries, Downtown Los Angeles has a unique freedom in its ability to ebb and flow over time. A century ago, Bunker Hill wasn't considered Downtown proper. Nor was South Park fifty years ago. Only in the last decade has the Arts District fully adopted being in Downtown. And prior to very recently, The Flats east of the LA River seemed more Boyle Heights-adjacent but now calls itself Downtown. Beyond just a physical location, Downtown is an identity, a reference to being close in proximity to a centralized core of the city.
Though if Downtown is a mere acknowledgement of centralization, many other Los Angeles neighborhoods fit the bill for "Downtown" too. For us, Echo Park Lake’s proximity is more important to our Downtown living experience than any public space in DTLA. We bike over to Boyle Heights and take the Purple Line to Koreatown as much as we visit some of Downtown's own neighborhoods. Arts events are aplenty in Lincoln Heights, Westlake/MacArthur Park, and other bordering neighborhoods. In Issue 1 of Get Down Town, and for the purpose of our cultural events guide, we've focused on arts-involved communities that reference themselves as existing in Downtown Los Angeles. But in the future, we could take cues from this abstract city of ours and expand our focus to a broader Downtown.
Some of the interpretations of what defines Downtown Los Angeles.