Koreatown, Los Angeles, California

From Academic Kids

Koreatown, also known as Wilshire Center, is a district in the city of Los Angeles, California.



Koreatown is bordered by Hollywood on the north, Westlake and Pico-Union on the east, Harvard Heights on the south, and Country Club Park and Larchmont on the west. It is bounded by Arlington Avenue/Wilton Place on the west, Melrose Avenue on the north, Hoover Street on the east, and Pico Boulevard on the south. Major thoroughfares include Beverly, Wilshire, Olympic, and Pico Boulevards, Western, Normandie, and Vermont Avenues, and 3rd Street. The Hollywood Freeway runs through the district's northeast corner. Landmarks include the Wiltern Theatre and the historic Bullock's Wilshire department store building (now the Southwestern University School of Law library).


Prior to the 1960s, Wilshire Center was a wealthy commercial and residential district. As Los Angeles rapidly decentralized along newly constructed freeway corridors, Wilshire Boulevard and the areas surrounding it went into a lengthy decline. With property values drastically diminished, the area became dominated by Koreans during the 1960s, when restrictions on immigration to the United States from East Asia were lifted. The name "Koreatown" had more to do, however, with the predominance of Korean-owned businesses on the major arteries — Western Avenue, Olympic Boulevard, Wilshire Boulevard, Eighth Street, Sixth Street, Third Street and Vermont Avenue — running through the community than with the demographics of the residents, as large parts of the area were heavily Latino throughout the 1970s and 1980s while the level of Korean residents in other areas remained low as well.

By the late 1980s, the Korean community had become more prosperous, owning many businesses in the district and throughout central Los Angeles. Allegations of discriminatory practices by Korean shopkeepers and the shooting death of a black youth at the hands of a Korean grocery clerk fostered a considerable degree of resentment toward the neighborhood among the African-American population of South Central Los Angeles; as a result, many Korean-owned businesses were badly damaged during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. In the aftermath, much of the Korean population decamped to the San Fernando Valley and Orange County. The vacuum was largely filled by Mexican and Central American immigrants, who continued to make up a large part of the population of the area, particularly in the eastern portions of the neighborhood.

Recent developments

The early 2000s have seen a revitalization of the area with many Korean-Americans returning, seeking a more urban lifestyle than could be found in Korean-heavy suburbs like Irvine and Alhambra. The neighborhood has also become invigorated with the arrival of middle-class immigrants from Korea, seeking better positions than are generally available in South Korea's stagnant economy. Koreatown has also become a somewhat chic destination for hipsters priced out of Los Feliz, West Hollywood, and Park La Brea, although the area's troublingly high crime rate significantly reduces its desirability, particularly for families with children.

Koreatown now brims with vibrant nightlife and commerce, and the construction of mid-high end residential buildings, including numerous apartments and condominiums continues to attract new residents. The construction of the Aroma Wilshire Center, a $40 million spa, which opened in June of 2001, caters to the city's affluent Korean population. The five-story facility features a premium spa with imported mud baths, stone treatments, facials and massages. The center also features a 4-level, 60 tee station golf driving range, as well as 35 retail shops and an international food court.

Another notable addition is the construction of Koreatown Galleria, a 124,000 square foot (12,000 m²) shopping complex, which opened in October, 2001. The 3-level complex boasts 65 retail stores and business services, including the Galleria Supermarket, the largest Korean supermarket outside of Korea.

The community's presence has also notably expanded into Westlake and Country Club Park. The district has also prospered from the presence of the Metro Red Line subway, which has relieved some of its notable traffic congestion.

See also


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