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Revitalization and Gentrification: 1980s-1990s
Several competing socio-economic trends were at play in the Beverly-Fairfax neighborhood during the late 1970s and the early 1980s. While the majority of the neighborhood’s residents were Jews of a lower-middle and lower socioeconomic status, real estate costs in the neighborhood skyrocketed throughout the 1970s.
Jewish community leaders, journalists, and local politicians almost immediately recognized the rising property values, the increasing eviction notices, and the shrinkage of affordable housing options as a potentially devastating threat to the neighborhood’s Jewish character. Soon enough, concrete plans for large commercial and public projects began to emerge and with that came intensified grassroots efforts to control and contain development. For many, nothing less than the future of Beverly-Fairfax as a viable base for local Jewish life in Los Angeles was at stake.
Explore the links below to learn more about the institutions, organizations, and general demographic conditions that helped to define life in the Fairfax neighborhood during the age of Revitalization and Gentrification:
The fear that Fairfax would loose its distinct Jewish character due to the forces of excessive private sector development started to mount in the early 1980s. In an effort to promote Fairfax Avenue as an “ethnic showcase area" and market Fairfax as an culturally authentic shopping destination, the Vitalize Fairfax Committee organized “Celebrate Fairfax!” The occasion,held at the Fairfax High School Auditorium on November 2, 1980, was designated as the official kickoff event for both the Vitalize Fairfax project and the Los Angeles Bicentennial. As one such flyer that aimed to present Fairfax as a cosmopolitan and commodified Jewish space explained, “[Fairfax] is...kosher butcher shops and bakeries….falafel and humus. It speaks with a voice that is Hebrew, Yiddish, and Russian. FAIRFAX represents the past and the present to the Jewish community of Los Angeles and is now at long last addressing itself to the future!”
The event was designed to mimic the look and feel of a classic movie premiere. As such,“Celebrate Fairfax" featured a short film “By the Rivers of Babylon” about the Fairfax community, a jazz dance performance, Yiddish theatrical presentations, and a gala street party. The event also included the presentation of Israel’s Bi-Centennial gift to the City of Los Angeles in the form of poster by famed Israeli artist Yaakov Agam.
Perhaps due to the fact that the ticket prices for “Celebrate Fairfax" were beyond what most local residents could afford, the event, much to the chagrin of its organizers, did not sellout. And yet, “Celebrate Fairfax” introduced and represented a new form of neighborhood engagement. Indeed, “Celebrate Fairfax” was the first of many large-scale cultural heritage projects during the 1980s--the creation of the Fairfax Community Mural, the renaming the Fairfax Avenue/ Beverly Boulevard intersection Raoul Wallenberg Square (after the Swedish Diplomat who helped rescue Hungarian Jews during the Second World War, and the "Treasures of Fairfax" festival--that sought to publicly mark and pronounce the area as a Jewish space.
In Search of Fairfax
The Classical Period
The Urban Crisis
Revitalization and Gentrification