By BARRY LANK
SILVER LAKE – The Sunset Triangle Plaza has become a fixture in the neighborhood, a place where people shop at the farmers’ market, watch outdoor movies with friends and family or just to hang out at the cafe tables. It’s surprising then to realize how new it is, and that not everyone was happy when the plaza opened more than five years ago.
The plaza, its surface painted in a green polka-dot pattern, initially opened for a one-year trial period in March 2012 after a one-block stretch of Griffith Park Boulevard near Sunset Boulevard was closed to motor vehicles. The closure of the street next to an existing, triangular pocket park created a larger public space.
The creation of Sunset Triangle Plaza was one of the city’s first efforts to create car-free, pedestrian-friend spots from sections of streets and alleyways (remember parklets?).
But not everyone welcomed the plaza. Critics bemoaned the loss of eight parking spaces, City Lab reported at the time, and, before the end of the month, a hit-and-run driver smashed into a row of planters that acted as a barrier.
Flash forward just a couple of years, and Sunset Triangle has outlived the early criticisms and concerns. The plaza is home the neighborhood’s farmer’s market, which predates the plaza, summer movie nights and other events. Green metal tables and chairs provide convenient seating to nearby restaurants.
Sunset Triangle Plaza is home to the outdoor Silver Lake Picture Show
One business owner saw Sunset Triangle as a particularly good spot for her restaurant.
“When we were first looking for a spot, it was summer,” said Vivian Ku, owner of Pine and Crane, which has now been serving Taiwanese-Chinese cuisine by the plaza for three-and-a-half years. “”They were doing movie nights, and it was cool to see the community coming together. It seemed like a community spot.”
For established residents, the plaza has been part of decades-long changes that have seen this section of Silver Lake transformed from a graffiti-scarred gang territory into a safer and gentrified neighborhood.
Efforts to clean up the area began well before the plaza opened, said Andrea DeGuzman, whose United Bread & Pastry opened in the 1980s. “Businesses started to sprout. It’s been getting better and better.”
The area around Sunset Triangle Plaza continues to change, with several of the businesses that front the plaza closing or changing hands in the five years since it opened. And for Ku, more could be done with the plaza itself – maybe make it part of the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks, maybe set up games and ping pong tables.
“We haven’t seen the potential of the plaza yet,” Ku said.
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