History & Background:
If you’ve ever driven through this area, you can tell that it’s old (one of the oldest neighborhoods in L.A.). In fact, it was part of the original Rancho San Rafael which after the Mexican-American War was portioned off and established Glendale, Eagle Rock, Atwater Village, etc.
Highland Park is also home to Los Angeles’s largest historic district called “Garvanza”. Technically, Garvanza is its own neighborhood, and some people might disagree with my last sentence, but it has been incorporated into the Highland Park-Garvanza Historic Preservation Zone, and many consider it to be a neighborhood within a neighborhood.
Fun Fact: Highland Park became the second home to Occidental College in 1898 before its final move to Eagle Rock in 1914.
During the early 1900s, this neighborhood consisted largely of artists and academics—which explains the Occidental campus. However, during the mid-century, Highland Park experienced the “white flight” phenomenon and became a predominately Latino neighborhood. Today, it is experiencing another shift; this time, the opposite. The artists and academics are moving back to the area, setting up art galleries, museums, restaurants, and other locally-owned businesses. Many of them are actually quite good! And let’s not forget the coffee shops and record stores.
Entertainment & Nightlife:
In Highland Park, the majority of restaurants and bars are located on two streets: Figueroa and York.
At the intersection of Ave 50 & York is one of Highland Park’s most prominent restaurants, The York, which is one of many “gastropubs” in the area. Basically, a gastropub is an understated and minimally decorated restaurant with a large craft beer selection and gourmet “bar food”. This is “hipster town” where craft beer is the rage, which explains why there are so many local breweries in the immediate area: Golden Road, Eagle Rock, Craftsman, Ohana, and Angel City all within roughly 5 miles of the area.
Heads Up: Driving around in Highland Park looking for a bar or restaurant can be a challenge since it is easy to miss almost every spot—especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for. So, make sure you have an idea of where these places are before you head out.
Even though there are many different types of restaurants in the area, Ba & Chez Antoine (French), Maximiliano (Italian), Good Girl (Vietnamese); the most popular places feature the Latino culture with restaurants like Metro Balderas, Tacos la Estrella, El Huarache Azteca, Hermosillo, Via Mar, and so on.
Here’s an easy way to remember: York Blvd stretches through Eagle Rock and Highland Park and is full of new and hip places. Figueroa St is still pretty traditional for the most part and is where you will find countless Mexican restaurants, stands, and food trucks.
Interestingly, many of the “nightlife” spots in Highland Park are the same places you go to grab a bite to eat (The York, Hermosillo, Sonny’s Hideaway, The Greyhound). But there are also a few places to check out after you eat, like La Cuevita and the new Offbeat Bar.
Real Estate & Housing:
With this economic shift happening in Highland Park, home values are on the rise. Some might say that it’s where Echo Park was ten years ago and Silver Lake before that. In fact, the same could be said for most of Northeast L.A. right now (Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Mount Washington, Glassell Park, even Monterey Hills and Lincoln & Montecito Heights).
My favorite part about real estate in Highland Park? Easily, the view. A lot of these hilly places up in the “Garvanza” area and just southeast of Occidental College and Eagle Rock High School have spectacular views, very similar to those in Pasadena and Glendale or even the Hollywood Hills, but for a fraction of the price.
Most people still don’t understand Highland Park and what’s happening with the real estate in this area. In my opinion, that’s why it’s such a great time to buy and move here, before everyone else figures it out.