York Boulevard has long eclipsed by Figueroa Street when it comes to impressive historic landmarks. While Figueroa is lined with ornate churches, landmark movie houses and classic brick storefronts, York appears to be a hodgepodge of small commercial buildings, homes and what seemed like an endless string of auto and party supply stores and Mexican restaurants. But now as York Boulevard has emerged as Highland Park’s retail and restaurant hot spot, neighborhood historians have taken a closer look at the history and architecture of York Boulevard to highlight the street’s historic jewels. Historian Charles Fisher has completed the first portion of a survey commissioned by the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council to take stock of more than 400 properties along York Boulevard between Eagle Rock Boulevard on the west and Avenue 64 on the east.
“The goal has been to use the survey as a tool for future development … so neighborhood council members know what’s actually on York,” said Fisher.
View Eagle Rock Blvd & York Blvd in a larger map
Running east to west along what is known as the York Valley, the development of York Boulevard began on the western edge of the street when it was originally known as Eureka Avenue, Fisher said. The street’s name was later changed to New York Boulevard and shortened to York Boulevard in the 192os as an effort to improve the image of an area that had become nicknamed Poverty Flats, Fisher said.
Fisher, an expert in Highland Park history and architecture, was surprised to find some well preserved examples of mid-century commercial buildings and a Tudor-Revival style church – the Church of Christ – that might be worthy of national monument status.
“The biggest surprise of all was how many back houses York has,” Fisher said of the large number of homes that sit hidden behind commercial buildings, a classic L.A. development pattern. A house that might have been constructed in 1908 would later be obscured by a storefront built in 1914, Fisher said.
Fisher plans to complete the survey and present the finding to the neighborhood council in the next few months.