The History of the Arts District

From vineyards to warehouses to  a culturally significant community.



In 1831 an aging adventurer and vintner named Louis Vignes landed in Los Angles and planted 104 acres of Cabernet and Sauvignon Blanc vines in what is now the Los Angeles Arts District. The vines thrived and by 1849 the El Aliso Vineyard was the largest producer of wine in California.

By the late 19th century the vines had been replaced by orange and grapefruit groves. The growing Santa Fe freight depots and warehouses created to serve the citrus industry’s shipping needs would determine the economic character and initial architectural makeup of the neighborhood.

By World War II, the citrus groves had been replaced by factories established to service the emerging trucking industry. However, by the late 1960’s and early 1970’s these businesses consolidated or closed, and created significant vacancies in what was now a decaying urban neighborhood not unlike other urban American cities of this time.

A handful of local artists saw this as an opportunity and began to colonize the neighborhood, renting space as cheaply as three cents per square foot. Galleries, cafes and performance venues followed and in 1981 the City of Los Angeles acknowledged the emergence of this neighborhood and passed the Artists in Residence ordinance, and seeding the beginnings of the modern day Los Angeles Arts District.



The Community

Amid the glittering towers and crumbly Art Deco facades, a new generation of adventurous chefs, bartenders, loft dwellers, artists, and developers are creating a neighborhood as electrifying and gritty as New York in the ‘70s.



Los ANgeles Downtown & arts districT