That's right... Let me be the first to say God Bless 'em!
We all like to poke fun at them, create funny internet memes, mock their sense of style, their ridiculous facial hair, and so on… but the truth of the matter is, they really are doing great work in Los Angeles! Here’s a question for all the NELA outsiders (Northeast L.A.): When is the last time you visited Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Glassell Park, or Mt. Washington? These places used to be gang infested neighborhoods, but after these brave souls began to move in, the gangs moved on, and property values have shot through the roof.
Don’t believe me? The same thing can be said for the transformation in the Arts District downtown, or Silver Lake and Echo Park before that. Fun fact: For years, people in Silver Lake have referred to themselves as “Eastsiders”. But today, when you have hipsters venturing across the Arroyo into Montecito Heights and El Sereno, it hardly seems appropriate anymore.
It has also happened in New York with all five Burroughs of NYC--namely Brooklyn, which wasn't the safest place to visit a very short time ago. Today, the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn is world famous, incredibly popular, and insanely hipster.
I have four words for you: “handcrafted artisanal health insurance”.
Right around the same time we marched into the new millennium, the hipsters have been marching into new territories. Just a few years ago, you NEVER would have seen blonde hair in Echo Park. Today, it’s crawling with hipsters, and all sorts of different colored hair (although, it’s covered by fedoras or over-sized beanies). Earlier this year, Redfin.com named Eagle Rock as the second hottest neighborhood in the entire country (the first was Bernal Heights North Slope in San Francisco).
What do you think is responsible for that? New construction? Great shopping? Convenient parking? The enticing muffler shops? Try again.
It’s a fascinating phenomenon to observe: People are becoming fed up with paying so much to live somewhere, so they find an opportunity to move to a cheaper place. They begin to fix up the houses in the neighborhood, put in a few new locally-owned stores, restaurants, clean up the houses, slap on a few coats of paint, and then herds of people follow. Prices rise, and at some point, it again becomes too expensive, and the process repeats itself somewhere else.
Fun fact: Hipster is actually Yiddish for ‘Opportunist’.
Here’s the reality: We should be thanking the hipsters instead of ridiculing them. They don’t drive aggressively on the freeways—in fact, most of them drive environmentally friendly vehicles. They’re not in your way at the Cheesecake Factory or Costco because they keep to themselves at their small coffee shops, farmer's markets, and neighborhood restaurants—which are incredible by the way.
And most importantly, they’re not moving into your neighborhood, trashing their homes, and bringing down the property values. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. They have been renovating properties, starting new businesses, and eventually raising home values for all their neighbors. What nerve! In Los Angeles, they’re headed eastward across the city. They began in Silver Lake and Echo Park, then they moved to Eagle Rock and Highland Park, now they’re headed even further east looking for homes in El Sereno.
Less gang activity and skyrocketing property values that promotes local homeowner wealth is cause for celebration, not ridicule!
Yes, they’re eccentric and silly looking. But if you really take the time to observe them in their natural habitat, they’re docile creatures, and in my experience, they've gone out of their way to improve the quality of life for everyone.