The Westside as seen looking north from Loyola Marymount University
. The 405 Freeway is invisible on the far left side of the picture, and the large buildings in the distance are mostly along Wilshire Boulevard in the Westwood district. The tall buildings on the right side of the picture are in the Century City district. The Santa Monica Mountains are to the north.
West Los Angeles, also called the Westside, is generally considered to be the portion of Los Angeles, California and its suburbs that lies east of the Pacific Ocean including Brentwood, west of Fairfax Avenue (varying definitions place the eastern boundary a half-mile west, at La Cienega Boulevard, or a mile east at La Brea Avenue), south of the Santa Monica Mountains, and north of the Los Angeles International Airport. Confusingly, "West Los Angeles" is also the name of a neighborhood-level district of the city of Los Angeles, located in the vicinity of the junction of Santa Monica Boulevard (California State Highway 2) and the San Diego Freeway. Much like South Central Los Angeles, the name of a specific area gradually came to encompass the culturally similar areas around it; thus, this article concerns the Westside as a whole.
Many of the major educational, retail, cultural, and recreational attractions of Greater Los Angeles are located in the area, as is a large portion of the entertainment industry. Century City is the major business hub of the Westside, comprising many of the major companies and agencies making up what is known as the film industry today. In fact, more of Hollywood's deals get done on the Westside today than in the actual city of Hollywood itself. The Westside rivals downtown Los Angeles for the number of people commuting to it from other areas, particularly the San Fernando Valley to the north and the South Bay to the south.
The Westside's traffic congestion is legendary. Although once served by the Pacific Electric Railroad's streetcars, it was the first region of Los Angeles to be developed largely around the automobile, and is notorious for its lack of significant public transportation. (Its residents are also noted for their NIMBY attitude toward transportation projects--q.v.) The traffic-choked Santa Monica and San Diego freeways are the primary transportation corridors in the region, and much of the area's commercial development is along them. The proposed Pacific Coast, Beverly Hills, and Laurel Canyon freeways undoubtedly would have sped up the region's traffic flow, but went unbuilt in the face of massive community opposition; unfortunately, a great deal of high-density development took place in anticipation of these roadways' construction, resulting in significant congestion on the area's surface streets. In particular, getting to Hollywood from the West Side is notoriously difficult, with all major east-west streets between the regions jammed during virtually all waking hours.
The Westside is generally thought of as the white part of the city of Los Angeles, in contrast to the Latino-dominated East Side, the Latino and Asian areas such as Pico-Union and Koreatown in and around downtown, and the black and Latino neighborhoods of South Central. Despite the two areas' proximity, most Westsiders rarely cross the Santa Monica Freeway into South Central, or at least no farther East or South than USC and the Coliseum. In fact, a popular longstanding phrase amongst snooty natives is "Life ends east of Sepulveda."
Those who are less inclined to view the Westside in racial terms will find the community to be quite culturally diverse. Sawtelle Avenue, especially between between Pico and Olympic boulevards, became a center of Japanese business and culture in the first half of the 20th century, when restrictive covenants and laws made it impossible to purchase property in adjoining, incorporated areas. As a particular profession of Japanese "Issei" in Los Angeles was gardening, the street was filled with plant nurseries and related stores. Today, many of the nurseries have been replaced by shops and offices that still cater to Japanese people or Japanese Americans, including two Giant Robot stores that feature all kinds of Japanese pop culture collectibles. Further south on Sawtelle is the "barrio" of the Sotel gang. There is a large Iranian/Persian community that is apparent by the numerous bookstores and restaurants on Westwood Boulevard with signage in both Farsi and English. The community was formed in the aftermath of the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
Area code 310 covers most of West Los Angeles and is commonly synonymous with it: young people often refer to the region as "the 310." Ironically, area code 310 also covers some of the poorest communities in the Los Angeles area, such as Gardena and Compton.
The "Westside" was often mentioned in West Coast rap and gangsta rap music, especially during the mid-to-late 1990s.
West Side communities
- Beverly Hills
- Century City
- Cheviot Hills
- Culver City
- Holmby Hills
- Mar Vista
- Marina del Rey
- Pacific Palisades
- Playa del Rey
- Rancho Park
- Santa Monica
- West Hollywood
- West Los Angeles