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Little Tokyo is a neighborhood in central Los Angeles, east of Downtown. The neighborhood's boundaries are roughly Los Angeles Street to the west, the 101 Freeway to the north, the Los Angeles River to the east, and 3rd Street to the south. Little Tokyo is the largest and most-populated official Japanese neighborhood in the United States.

Little Tokyo appeared around the turn of the 20th century. Japanese bachelors settled in this area, and produce from Japanese Californian farmers was brought in to sell at wholesale markets. The neighborhood flourished until World War II, when residents were incarcerated in internment camps. During World War II, the neighborhood became Bronzeville, with African Americans from the South living here due to a lack of deed restrictions. After World War II, Japanese Americans slowly began to return to the neighborhood.

The neighborhood experienced a resurgence in the 1970s when a redevelopment movement began. At this same time, Japanese companies began doing business in the United States, and many placed their American headquarters in Los Angeles. Redevelopment meant that many historic buildings were lost. Today, only a few blocks contain pre-internment structures; most buildings in Little Tokyo are from the 1970s and 1980s.

Today, Little Tokyo is still threatened with great change. Warehouse areas in the east part of the district are being converted into artist lofts. Condominiums and apartments are sprouting up. Very few Japanese American people actually live in the neighborhood anymore. Most live in the South Bay communities like Gardena and Torrance. Japanese companies have even moved to Torrance, keeping most international business away from Little Tokyo. However, despite all of the changes in the neighborhood in the last 75 years, Little Tokyo remains a strong cultural focal point for Japanese Americans in the Los Angeles Basin.



Zenshuji Soto Temple, on Hewitt Street. The temple was built in 1926.



St. Francis Xavier Catholic School, on Hewitt Street. The school was built in 1963, next to the chapel from 1939.



Buildings under renovation on 3rd Street.



A shopping center on Alameda Street.



The Little Tokyo Galleria, at 3rd & Alameda Streets. The mall was built in 1985.



Centenary United Methodist Church, on 3rd Street. The church was built in 1995.



Higashi Honganji Temple, on 3rd Street. The Buddhist temple was built in 1976.



The Jodoshu North America Buddhist Missions, on 3rd Street.



Union Church of Los Angeles, on 3rd Street. The church was built in 1976.



The W.H. Harrelson Building, on 3rd Street.



Apartment buildings on San Pedro Street.



The Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, on San Pedro Street. The structure was completed in 1983.



Frances Hashimoto Plaza, next to the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, at 2nd & Azusa Street. The plaza was completed in 1983 and was designed by Isamu Noguchi. It was later named for Hashimoto, a businesswoman who worked to revitalize the neighborhood, in 2012.



Aratani Theatre, on Frances Hashimoto Plaza off of San Pedro Street. The theater was built in 1983.



Buildings along Frances Hashimoto Plaza.



Weller Court, at 2nd & Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Streets.



Weller Court was built in 1982.



Weller Court is home to a couple of the many markets in the neighborhood that sell food from Japan.



Looking up the pedestrian Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Street.



Los Angeles City Hall, between Main & Spring Street north of 1st Street, is visible from the intersection of 2nd & San Pedro Streets. City Hall was completed in 1928.



The Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Memorial, on Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Street. The memorial, with a scale replica of the Challenger, was dedicated in 1990.



The Ninomiya Sontoku statue, at 2nd & San Pedro Streets. The statue was erected in 1983, and is dedicated to the philospher and economist.



Japanese Village Plaza, from 2nd Street between Central Avenue & San Pedro Street.



Japanese Village Plaza was built in 1978.



Japanese Village Plaza Mall is the pedestrian walkway that runs through the retail area.



The Plaza was built to replicate the architecture of a rural Japanese village.



Along the 1st Street entrance to Japanese Village Plaza is a yagura, or fire lookout tower. The yagura was built in 1980, and was replaced in 2010.



Along 1st Street is the only block of Little Tokyo that escaped urban renewal. The white building is the Sperl Building, completed in 1882.



The Far East Cafe, on 1st Street. The structure was built in 1896 and is known for its "Chop Suey" neon sign.



A building on 1st Street from before the urban renewal.



Businesses on 1st Street.



San Pedro Firm Building, on San Pedro Street. The structure was built in 1925.



The old Japanese Union Church of Los Angeles, on San Pedro Street. The church was built in 1923, and was the first church to house a Protestant congregation in Little Tokyo. It now houses a performing arts center.



The Kajima Building, at 1st & San Pedro Streets. The highrise was built in 1967, and now houses California Bank & Trust.



The Japanese American National Museum, on 1st Street. Founded in 1992, it is the first museum in the US dedicated to Americans of Japanese ancestry. The museum was built in 1999.



Hompa Hongwanji Temple, at 1st Street & Central Avenue. The Buddhist temple was built in 1925 as an Egyptian Revival theater. It became the Japanese American National Museum in 1992, and is now museum offices.



The Geffen Contemporary, on Central Avenue. The museum was built in 1947 as a warehouse. It was remodeled in 1983 and was designed by Frank Gehry. The museum was originally to be temporary space for the Museum of Contemporary Art, but the museum kept the building open for exhibits even after moving into its permanent space on Grand Avenue in Downtown.

 

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