Echo Park’s sidewalk sofas get a show of their own

Photo by Angela Wood

Walk in any direction in Echo Park and you are likely to soon come upon a couch. All kinds of couches, tossed out on the curb and sidewalk. Puffy vinyl corner groups. Sofa sleepers. Love seats scrawled with graffiti. And the occasional orphaned ottoman. Along with taco trucks and hipsters, the abandoned couch is one of the symbols of Echo Park. (In fact, it was once suggested The Eastsider be named “Bulky Item Pick-Up,” the city service that hauls away sofas and other “bulky items.”). Now, the neighborhood’s most popular form of street furniture is being celebrated in a photo exhibit: “The Couches of Echo Park.”

The show, which opens today at Fix Coffee,  features 10 pairs of photos taken by Echo Park resident Angela Wood, who started taking photos of the abandoned furniture – or “stylish trash, as she refers to them – in 2011. “I started shooting them, initially just ‘collecting’ them, because they come and go,” said Wood.  “I also had a the idea of doing a spoof poster on ‘The Doors of Dublin,’ a kind of travelogue of Echo Park.”

Many residents view abandoned sofas as upholstered blight and are quick to call the city sanitation department at the sight of newly abandoned sofa. But Wood sees them differently.

“I see them as part of a beautiful chaotic landscape in Los Angeles, not as something disparaging – just a part of our neighborhood.”

An opening reception for The Couches of Echo Park will be held tonight, Saturday, Dec. 1 from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Fix Coffee, 2100 Echo Park Avenue.


  1. If only someone would invent a car that runs on abandoned couches and particle board furniture – problem solved!

  2. I heard abandoned couches are the sign of a good neighborhood.

    • Whilst your sarcasm is appreciated, I feel a civic duty calling.

      To all who see a bulky item on your street:
      you can report it to 311 (phone) or on the la city services website (much easier).
      I only hope the reason couches, refrigerators and mattresses hang out for weeks is not because of laziness but ignorance…
      Please know that YOU can report it even if it isn’t on your front yard! And only YOU can prevent forest fires. Thank you.

      • I’ve tried that my owner gave me that number,same number you use when ordering a new trash can, or the city side of the tree falls on your yard. It takes a very long time for them to come out, why don’t we drop that stuff in front of your house and we will call. Who really the ignorant ones, go use the dump up there in Pasadena or wherever there is one and keep your crap in front of your house!

  3. Went to check it out. The Fixx folks were pretty snotty stating “this is a private party”.
    Reminded me why I never patronize them.

    • I was running the party the whole night. One person stopped by to ask what we were up to, he was invited in (by one of our employees). Gate was unlocked and we were welcoming. I apologize if you felt otherwise. I have run almost every party over the past 3 years, and have never turned anyone away. We have put out free food, and drink for the Halloween party 4 years running. You are welcome to come in, unless someone rents the place after hours, and specifies its just their guests, and that is their prerogative, not our policy. Come by and see the art – it’s always local… and whether you deem someone local by how many years they have in this neighborhood or how much they love and contribute to it, is just a matter of perspective.

  4. This could be the most uninteresting post on the eastsiider ever. Yeah let’s celebrate sofas dumped on the side of the road as if it is some cultural descriptor for Latinos in LA. You should be ashamed.

    • Really? The only couch sitting on the street in my ‘hood is in front of some whites’ house. I Don’t think that this is a racial specific phenomenon.

    • I think you may be reading into something that is not there. EP gives refuge to rainbow of residents, ready and willing to abandon their sofas – not just latinos.

  5. I am speechless! The post and the comments are hysterical.

  6. I’ve never seen so much abandoned furniture in the neighbourhood,until all this gentrification. They should take their stuff with them wherever they came from! It’s like they think they are giving something to the poor…Nobody wants want’s your junk! WELCOME TO ECHO PARK LEAVE YOUR JUNK AND GO HOME!

  7. tangentially related – think twice before picking one of these up, oh ye who seek cheap furniture. BED BUGS are in echo park, and you never know why someone is dumping a couch…

  8. “I see them as part of a beautiful chaotic landscape in Los Angeles, not as something disparaging – just a part of our neighborhood.”

    This is the attitude when new people move to the neighborhood,
    As if we long timers have just “accepted ” abandoned crap dumped on the side of the road .
    Abandoned junk is found in many parts of the city .
    “Oh look , its Echo Park , its soooo chaotic and artistic at the same time , its so delish in our nabe”

    E.P since 1967

  9. Well,they dump that stuff down on the avenue by where I live…Maybe they should start dumping that crap up on Princeton ave or Valentine,let’s see how they like it! Oh and the people that honk and give dirty looks,and drive to fast around here,that’s another accident waiting…I am gonna low ride,and if you don’t like it go around….

  10. It was not the gang that killed this innocent man,but one of these pilgrams! Stop pointing the finger at the gang house,and respect the ones that really keep the rift out of here…I guess you would rather have some other gang up the avenue with no respect at all like,eighteen street or mara salvatrucha! I think the locals that are here keep Echo Park seasoned well! EXP wouldn’t be what it is without them,so if you don’t like it keep pushing and go back to south dakata or montana or something!

  11. I have no idea what anyone is talking about anymore.

  12. I thought the article was about left out crap? How did this conversation turn into such…..?

    • I think this aimless (but occasionally interesting) comments thread has to do with (1) the inconsequential and naive character of the art work starting it all, and (2) the way the work touches on some neighborhood live wires, like blight, “hipsters”, and the nature of Echo Park.

  13. and no one has even mentioned all the mattresses! in my house we call EP Ave and Donaldson, Mattress Corner. I think I’ll do a coffee table book. As soon as one is gone a new one shows up, like magic, the next morning. And don’t even get me started about shopping carts! THose photos are gonna sell like lattes!

    • Good one neighbour! Maybe the next time they dump some crap up here on donaldson and echo park, I will drag it down the street and plop that crap in the front of the fix and then they could boast about how beautiful it is! And have themselves a rally cool art show…

  14. The last time I dumped a piece of furniture on the street it was because there were mice living in it…

    It got swooped up in 36 hours.

    • I suppose you did the right thing and called the 311 number,hugh!
      Some of you are to smart for your own good,ignorant people like myself can’t out smart guys like these, I guess you have an answer for everything. Maybe, you had a silver spoon in your mouth and your mother picked up everything, or your house maid. If you have mice living in your couch,your probably a complete slob anyways. No wonder you just through your junked couch on the avenue,straight dirt bags!

  15. We should be responsible on environment issues.
    Don’t simply throw away that sofas….

  16. “I see them as part of a beautiful chaotic landscape in Los Angeles, not as something disparaging – just a part of our neighborhood.”

    Double ugh — c’mon, it trashes the city period.

    “Oh look , its Echo Park , its soooo chaotic and artistic at the same time , its so delish in our nabe”

    No it isn’t.

    LA was once a beautifully-kept city, even EP, East Los and other allegedly run-down ‘hoods like Frogtown and Lincoln Hts., El Sereno. You did not see cheap furniture, tires and discarded sofas on the curbs of the city. And you certainly did not see it in (what were) nicer ‘hoods, Normandie, Wilshire, Los Feliz.

    This crap and an attitude that accepts do not help.

    • I don’t think the ones who recently migrated here care…They have no love for us native Angelenos’,that seems to be apparent! It’s not like we are profitting or seeking monetary compensation for picking up after them!

    • “Oh look , its Echo Park , its soooo chaotic and artistic at the same time , its so delish in our nabe”

      UM , its called sarcasm dude.

  17. Ant sure is passionate about this subject! ‘Git yours, Ant!

  18. I hate the word Hipster. Means nothing to me. I love the Highland Park to Silverlake culture and i consider myself Chicano. I ALWAYS hear people gabbing about wanting to celebrate diversity, and then bitch about one kind of community or another. LA has sooo much to offer each individual and we should all enjoy exploring its amazing communities, and its curb couch culture.

  19. The “Assemblage Art” movement started in LA from junk and trash. It became a world wide movement. Most people who are from here take pride in their community like someone else implied it is others who come from other places who don’t. It is about Respect….
    See “The Cool School” about assemblage art movement

  20. Nine Double Ohh 2 Sixxxer

    Oh yeah, I saw that when I was grabbing an Americano on my way to work, cool concept but ho-hum presentation.

  21. This exhibit sucks.

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