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Jews of Boyle Heights

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  • David Ginsburg (1905 - 1972)
    David was born in Los Angeles, on the tenth of July, 1905. His parents are Israel Bernard and Vetta Alter, immigrants from Bucharest Romania. He is their fifth child. His older siblings were Sam, Ann...

“Boyle Heights”

The Los Angeles River has always been a joke because there is very seldom any water running through it…It kind of corkscrews it’s way through what is called “Downtown L.A”. On the west is Downtown …it has shopping and olde movie palaces like the Orpheum and the Grand Central Market and Clifton’s Cafeteria and Angel’s Flight (one block over) and now Taco Stands and Mercado’s most are actually on Broadway the main artery…..while on the East side of the river over what used to be called “The Brooklyn Ave Bridge” is Boyle Heights (or East Los Angeles). Boyle Heights and Boyle Ave. being named after a late 1800’s investor in the development of lower income housing. The layout was fairly simple you would start at “The Brooklyn Bridge” coming over it east from Downtown…it flowed into “Brooklyn Avenue” past “Canter’s Delicatessen” to “Evergreen” to “Wabash Avenue”…right turn all the up to “City Terrace”.

Boyle Heights became a kind of haven for the disenfranchised… Jews, Mexicans, Blacks, Japanese and others. People found signs like “No Jews or N

Allowed” and “redlining” or “restricted covenants” on properties all around Los Angeles. Pasadena, San Marino, Palos Verdes, etc…. were all restricted to minorities and Jews in particular. Japanese Americans who were torn from their homes in 1942 and sent off to Manzanar and other camps weren’t allowed back to their original homes after the war so they also moved into Boyle Heights in growing numbers. The Downtown general area, bordering Boyle Heights, is also home to “Olvera St.” for the Hispanics, “China Town” and “Little Tokyo or J Town”…a little further away is “Little Armenia” and “Korea Town”.

In the 1920’s large numbers of Jews moved from the East Coast and other parts of the country and settled into Los Angeles…..primarily into Boyle Heights…making it at the time the Jewish center of the West. Boyle Heights continued for years to be the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in Los Angeles.

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"Please Add your Family Memories of Life in the Jewish Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, 1920 to 1955"