Venice, Santa Monica and Malibu used to be synonymous with West Coast creativity, and free-spirited living (think Venice artists, Frank Gehry and the Santa Monica architects, beach-inspired artists/surfers/musicians). But pricey real estate has driven creative Angelenos east, first to Silverlake and Echo Park, then to downtown, Highland Park, Eagle Rock and beyond. This has given rise to strongly held opinions and prejudices among a subset of Angelenos about which side is superior — from the perspective of the arts, multicultural relations, urban living, essential LA-ness and hipster levels relative to New York.

Tonight on Which Way LA? we are going to explore this Eastside-Westside rivalry with a knockdown, drag-out fight between listeners and invited guests from both sides of the argument, as well as a few voices from parts of town that are neither Eastside nor Westside and don’t know what the fuss is all about. Listen below:

We reached out to listeners online and through the Public Insight Network. Asking them why they loved their part of town (and which side is better?)

Listeners like Kim Richey said that the Eastside is better, “Better parking. Proximity to downtown and cultural venues. Metro system/union station. Historical areas: Angeleno heights, Highland Park, Garvanza, South Pasadena, etc. The zoo. Griffith Park. Hollywood bowl. 5+ freeways to navigate from. Neighborhood pockets and variety of farmers markets. Heavy artist clusters in each eastside ‘hood.”

And others, like Edmond Bina, came down in favor of the Westside. He says, “The Westside is better because of the cool ocean breezes, the big open spaces and the feeling of being closer to nature. Life seems to move a bit slower on this side and the people more relaxed, how can you not be when you have the beach right here?”

Still want more? Go here.


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  • Will Campbell

    Makes sense that Santa Monica-based KCRW would set things up so that its "eastside" be most anything inland to the nebulous westside, and thus perpetuate an ignorance and disrespect toward the city's true Eastside. Look at any historic map charting the city's original boundaries and looooong before La Brea or La Cienega or Sepulveda were even a gleam in our city planners' eyes or the 405 demarcated to a few insular idiots where one side side began and/or ended you'll find Silver Lake was part of the original Westside. Don't believe me? MacArthur Park wasn't originally called Westlake after someone's name, and certainly not by anyone who lived within reach of an ocean breeze. Count me out of this silly debate.

    • caitlinshamberg

      Will, Thanks for your input. We're using all of our listener input to help us frame the show and we plan on getting into how borders shift and change.
      – Caitlin Shamberg, Producer, KCRW

  • @kneel28

    Echo Park and Silver Lake are NOT part of the Eastside. I don't like how Central LA (comprising Downtown LA, Mid-Wilshire, Hollywood, and the areas in between them) has become the 'Eastside'. The true Eastside is roughly east of the LA River and the Arroyo Seco. I agree with Will that the more recent definition of the 'Eastside,' encompassing pretty much everything within the city limits from Hollywood eastward, is a sign of ignorance and disrespect on the part of transplants who have proliferated it, and effectively marginalizes the true Eastside neighborhoods and the people who call them home.

  • Central

    Agreed with above posters.. why is it so hard for so many new Angelenos to understand that there's something that comes in between east and west? Downtown is in between the East and West sides–hence "central."

    Do we say that everything above the 10 freeway is the "north side" just because it's north of South LA? Of course not, because if you said you live in North LA everyone would think you're talking about somewhere in the Valley! Central LA is where you are when you're not in the Valley, eastside, westside, or South LA.

  • Central

    …and the only reason this new use of the term "eastside" was ever able to flourish in the first place is because too many transplants didn't know there already WAS an eastside–east of the river.

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  • Stuart

    I grew up on the Westside now live in Highland Park. When West L.A. still had polliwogs in the Ballona Creek it was a great place to grow up. but Highland Park is much more like that now. It is much easier to live east of the river now, in spite of the weather being a little warmer.

  • Jeff

    Myopic Westsiders are like the bitchy cheerleaders in a teen movie, closeting themselves in ignorance and narcissism that winds up everybody else, especially when little of the narcissism is justified. Griffith Park and the Huntington Gardens easily rival the coast for natural beauty. Eagle Rock and the San Gabriel Valley has many more amazing restaurants. Caltech, Occidental College and USC out-muscle UCLA for influence. Property values are as high, if not higher in San Marino. Pasadena is fantastic urban hub and much more walkable than Santa Monica (though it needs pedestrianization). I don't think Westsiders can claim The Grove and LACMA. Now that the entertainment industry has flooded out of Southern California to other states and abroad, there's a better balance between entertainment, manufacturing, biotech, finance and medical device.

    They claim LA for themselves but are clueless and parochial.

    Downtown's still a dump though – pockets of wealth, swimming in a sea of poverty, squalor and human misery. Credit America's mental health services for that.

  • Mike

    Why so many haters, throwing around "transplant' like it's such a dirty word? LA would be nothing without its transplants. They make it great, bringing in creativity, intellectual capital and new perspectives. Respect our friends from Ohio, Minnesota, and Chicago.

    I grew up in Sierra Madre (east of the river, but not what I 'd ever call 'eastside) and live in Echo Park now. I call it the eastside because that's what it's called. No disrespect to Lincoln Heights, Boyle Heights, East LA or any of those other cities. They're still great, and probably what I'd consider to be collected into "East LA" if I'm not specifically calling out Lincoln Heights as an example. Maybe that's naive, but as Caitlin noted above, names change, perceptions change, etc. If we insist that there must be a "central" to balance the east v west (which is a fallacy to begin with) then there is one and we call it mid-city.

    People from the TRUE eastside always get so upset when Silverlake get's called eastside. People need to chill. It's not an affront to that part of town, it's just an easy way to group together three or four, popular, oft discussed and fun effing neighborhoods together in a simple to refer to group. Relax.

  • Joe Gittes

    Ugh, the only thing lamer than this argument in general are the whiners from East LA that always bitch about what the "Eastside" is.

    Boston has a "South End" and South Boston (Southie) and seem to be able to handle it.

    East Los Angeles is a specific place, The "Eastside" is a state of mind.

    I loved the Eastside when I lived there and it obviously has more flavor, but now that I'm an old married fart with kids, the Westside is far, far safer, cleaner and better.

  • Shay

    I'm a white male who was born in Pasadena and raised in San Marino. Left L.A. for 10 years to live in Nor Cal and San Diego. Returned to L.A. in 2005 and I've now lived in Santa Monica for 6 years. For me, I don't feel either side of town is overall better than the other. If you love living in L.A., you will find plenty to love about both the Westside and the Eastside, as well as Downtown, the San Gabriel Valley, SF Valley, and the Southbay/Harbor. I really dig living in Santa Monica, but I can keep myself contained to only "West of the 405." That's far too confining for me and too boring.

  • Shay

    When I think about the many great memories I have from my childhood, they include all kinds of adventures and trips to all parts of Los Angeles. I consider myself a proud resident of greater Los Angeles, So Cal in general, and even California as a whole. Can't wait to get a Metro line out to Santa Monica and a high speed train up to Nor Cal! Dreams I've had since I was a kid.

  • Shay

    South LA is another story, unfortunately. Other than Leimert Park, Baldwin Hills and the environs, I don't really see any reason to visit South LA. Too much urban blight. However, I can imagine a day when Inglewood gets a significant facelift and becomes a real hub for economic and residential revitalization. Great location and weather. No reason why it shouldn't be redeveloped sometime.

  • Native

    Transplant is not an ugly word, it's a truthful word. The Real Eastside is in fact an actual place, and guess what, it doesn't include Silver Lake or Los Feliz. The Real Eastside is EAST of the L.A. River, it's not that hard to understand. NELA is also a real place, it includes Highland Park, Cypress Park, Eagle Rock, etc.

    Maybe the people who live in places like Silver Lake, Echo Park, and Atwater can come up with their own, new name for that area. There's so many "artists" there, I'm sure they can muster something up.

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  • Fritanga

    Please. I've had friends who, practically all their lives, never, EVER set foot anywhere east of La Cienega. One who grew up in Pali never ventured east of Beverly Glen! The Westside mindset is a terrible to thing behold. These days, though, it's where a certain kind of striving/climbing out-of-stater hangs out, the sort who is out in abbreviated shorts and flip flops when it's 52 degrees during the day ("But – it's sunny!").

    And for the record, I'm a native, and to me the Eastside is anywhere east of Western. So there. Also, because East LA, Koreatown, Little Tokyo and the SGV are on our side, we will ALWAYS have the best food.

  • Rene

    Hey People of the West Side. Did you know that there is an Eastern Ave in Los Angeles. Maybe I should consider anything west of there the West Side. I grew up in East L.A. and always considered the center of Los Angeles downtown. Where the streets change from east to west.

  • Pete

    Dang, that's hilarious. Hollywood and Silverlake are in the "east"? When did this happen? Is West LA now the middle, and a 10-foot wide strip of beach the entirety of the west? Downtown is even farther east than some of the "eastern" parts–and you have to go northwest to get there from East LA. I was under the impression that the 626 was the east side.

    Do people from Santa Monica not know about this place, or are there too many minorities here for them to feel comfortable visiting? Or does everything feel very far east if you can't drive because you let the meter run over time and the SMPD came by, recycled your car at an e-waste facility, and sent you the bill? Or…I get it, it must be that the 10 on-ramps on that side of town are confusing to the transplants on the West side and they can't figure out how to get here.

  • Robert90033

    What I have notice is that by in large transplants more often than not refuse to acknowledge Downtown Los Angeles as the center of the city. They promote the typical ignorant idea that Los Angeles “has no center”. As a result their center becomes the far Westside. The “L.A.” that everyone hears about in the media. And so it is their center that becomes the focal point where all the City’s sides emanate from. Anything that runs counter to their perspective is just plain wrong according to them. But in actuality it is they who are just plain wrong. Unfortunately, they have websites, the media and people in high places promoting their erroneous point of view. Even Native Angelenos who attempt to correct them are quickly dismissed as being ignorant of their own City’s history and regional boundaries. This is what creates the friction between the two groups. So bottom line is that it is all about acknowledging and respecting the fact that were people born and raised here before your move here. And they know where the sides of the City are and where they begin and end. Just my two cents. = )

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