The LA Times published an article last Friday about how Echo Park is now a “hipster destination,” and it seems to have caused a bit of a knee-jerk reaction amongst Echo Parkians and Angelinos. It must be a case of hipsteria?
For one thing, the article, titled “Echo Park evolves into hipster destination,” implies this is a new thing and that we’ve lost its Latino roots to this mainstream subculture. “Once a largely working-class Latino neighborhood,” the author writes, “Echo Park is now home to one of L.A.’s most densely packed night-life corridors, with more than 15 popular bars, clubs and restaurants drawing crowds each weekend and often on weeknights too.”
Instead of being a new thing, this actually has been happening for quite some time now, and is also really just another cycle in Echo Park’s evolution (okay, I’m actually starting to hate that word). Call it gentrification – another scary word – but this is a discussion that has been going on in Echo Park and other older Los Angeles communities for a long, long time.
One commenter on the LA Times article writes: “Actually, the headline should read, ‘Echo Park DEVOLVES into hipster destination’. I can’t say I’m enthusiastic about hipsters OR racists. Isn’t there a way to spiff up a neighborhood without invoking either one?”
The word “hipster” causes a knee-jerk reaction in itself, especially for long-time residents who have seen Echo Park “evolve.” The skinny jeans, worn out vintage boots, rollie fingers, American Apparel sweater, iPod-wearing, super trendy, possibly with a trust fund kind of hipster. The subculture has definitely been attracted to Echo Park, where artists and activists have for a long time been a part of the community. But are is the hipster presence really that bad?
And on another note, why give the so-called hipsters all the credit for improving the community? One commenter on the LA Times article writes (sarcastically, we hope), “So next time you see me walking down echo park ave… you remember that it was us hipsters that made this neighborhood decent enough to walk with your children at night.”
Well, considering I don’t see “you” at the community meetings with the neighborhood council, Echo Park Improvement Association discussions, Echo Park trash cleanups, CCAC graffiti removals, working with the LAPD, or actively involved in the community in general, I won’t give all the hipsters all the credit for making Echo Park safer for businesses. But I also won’t necessarily shame the hipster style or lifestyle for that matter, I just think that credit should be given where’s it’s due, and not to a temporary subculture that happens to be “in” right now.