Through digital mapping as well as qualitative and quantitive analysis, “In Search of Fairfax” examines how Jews and non-Jews alike built communities and interacted with one another in the Fairfax neighborhood from the 1930s through the 1990s. Inter- and intra-group negotiations over the role and structure of this neighborhood generated multiple ideas about the neighborhood’s religious, social, and cultural purpose.
Specifically, "In Search of Fairfax" focuses on the ways in which an array of neighborhood stakeholders operated in tension and in tandem with each other in their effort to define who and what belonged within the Fairfax “community” and what exactly made the neighborhood “Jewish.” Of particular interest is contextualizing Fairfax within a broader metropolitan setting. This entails demonstrating how large-scale trends such as suburbanization, racial integration, and gentrification transformed Fairfax as both a physical space and a conceptual landscape as well as comparing Fairfax with other heavily Jewish areas and non-Jewish "ethnic" neighborhoods in Los Angeles.
Much of the research for this project was conducted in local archives such as the Barbara Myerhoff papers, the Mayor Tom Bradley Administration papers, 1920-1933, and the Western States Jewish History Archive, 1800-2004; the quantitive data for the maps largely comes from the Jewish community studies conducted by Fred Massarik and Bruce Phillips as well as U.S. Census Bureau. While thorough in its analysis, "In Search of Fairfax" does not claim to be comprehensive in its treatment of the Beverly-Fairfax neighborhood.
To share comments and pose questions about the project and the history of the Fairfax neighborhood, please email m.Baumgarten@ucla.edu.
Dr. Max D. Baumgarten is the author and curator of "In Search of Fairfax." He recently completed his Ph.D. from the Department of History at UCLA, where he wrote his dissertation on Jewish politics in Los Angeles during the final decades of the twentieth century. He would like to thank Dr. Caroline Luce, Albert Kochaphum, and David Wu for their valuable feedback and assistance in developing the "In Search of Fairfax" project.