El Niño, Downtown Los Angeles 1966 - age 3.

El Niño, Downtown Los Angeles 1966 - age 3.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Greetings from Cypress Park

Cypress Park Neighborhood, 1968

Cypress Park is a century old historic neighborhood located in North East Los Angeles. Situated along the Los Angeles River and the rail road tracks, it is a working class neighborhood originally composed of a large mix of Italian and Eastern European families much like its neighbor to the east, Lincoln Heights.

Today, Cypress Park is a proud Latino neighborhood with a strong ethnic culture that has kept itself under the radar and away from sprawling gentrification for years now. “Gentrification Happens” though and it has finally reached this community. With its close proximity to Downtown, Griffith Park, the Echo Park music scene and the freeways, many who are being forced out of Silverlake, Atwater Village and Echo Park are making Cypress Park a cool alternative place to live. Living in the right location in the hilly streets above Cypress Ave will guarantee you a great view of the urban sunsets and all the fireworks at Dodger Stadium. Cypress Park is a unique community with period craftsman homes, a diversified assortment of ethnic shops, businesses, eateries and a school named after Florence Nightingale, it still has that territorial edge among some of the many proud long time residents. It is also home to the LA River Center which operates Friends of the LA River (FOLAR). An incredible piece of land and architecture located on Avenue 26th and Figueroa, it was once the long time corporate offices and production facilities of the famous Lawry’s spice company and gourmet restaurant.

The original Lawry’s Restaurant is still operating in Beverly Hills and serves up the best prime rib in the city. They also own and operate the Tam O’ Shanter in Atwater Village which I assume shares the same prime rib recipe with its mothership. In the mid 1970’s former Los Angeles County prosecutor Marcia Clark was a waitress at the Beverly Hills establishment working her way through school. Somewhere I remember seeing a photo of a young Marcia Clark waiting on a frequent customer of the restaurant named O.J. Simpson. Twenty years later they were to meet again in a not so culinary setting and the rest of course is Los Angeles circus history.

Check out Cypress Park and The LA River Center and then treat yourself to a nice piece of prime rib in Beverly Hills which is a world away from North East Los Angeles but nonetheless worth the commute. If you would rather stay local on the so called “east side” then dine at the Tam O’ Shanter on Los Feliz Blvd for the equally decadent signature entrée.

I dedicate this post to my old friends Robbie and Nora who would dine and dash on occasion at the Tam O’ Shanter back when they were teenagers.

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