The Eastside of Los Angeles is the sprawling region of the city east of the Los Angeles River. It covers many distinct and vibrant neighborhoods, from East LA--the center of Latino culture in the city--at the southern end to hilly Eagle Rock at the north. Even though much of the area sits within sight of the Downtown skyline, it has a very local character that most visitors to LA don't experience.
This page covers the various communities of the Eastside (East LA, City Terrace, Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, and El Sereno) that sit just east of Downtown, as well as the neighborhoods of Northeast LA (Atwater Village, Cypress Park, Eagle Rock, Glassell Park, Highland Park, Montecito Heights and Mount Washington).
The Eastside of Los Angeles was originally settled in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, starting with the neighborhoods immediately across the river from Downtown LA. For much of its history, it has contained many of Los Angeles' ethnoburbs: Lincoln Heights once had a substantial Italian-American population, and Boyle Heights used to have substantial Jewish, Eastern European, and Japanese populations, although both are predominantly Latino today.
Lincoln Heights and Boyle Heights are directly east of Downtown and among the oldest neighborhoods in the city, with lots of turn-of-the-century houses and apartments and old business districts lining the main streets. Boyle Heights, along with its eastern neighbor East Los Angeles, are often considered the heart of Latino culture in Los Angeles. Both are predominantly Mexican-American and are home to many Spanish-speaking businesses and locally-oriented celebrations. Both neighborhoods figure massively in Mexican-American cultural identity: This was where the Chicano Moratorium protests of the 1960s and 1970s took place, Whittier Boulevard through East LA was the birthplace of lowrider culture, and many of the most popular cultural depictions of Latinos, from Colors to Stand and Deliver, were set here. The gangs that once dominated local news stories here in the 1990s have since cooled off; nowadays the bigger concern is the encroaching gentrification spreading from Downtown LA. City Terrace and El Sereno are two quiet neighborhoods perched on the hills along Interstate 10 east of Lincoln Heights, home to the campus of Cal State University Los Angeles.
Northeast LA is a very hilly region with lots of charming old neighborhoods set within the rolling hills, and historically a more bohemian character--although this is also being threatened by gentrification. Cypress Park, Glassell Park, and Atwater Village sit along the LA River and Interstate 5 north of Lincoln Heights, with Atwater Village being the subject of much real estate interest given its proximity to Glendale, Los Feliz and Griffith Park. Along the Arroyo Seco northwest of Lincoln Heights, which parallels Highway 110 and the Metro Gold Line, are Montecito Heights, Mount Washington, and Highland Park, which contain a lot of beautiful Craftsman-style houses along with the more common Mediterranean and Spanish Revival styles typical of Los Angeles. Montecito Heights and Mount Washington are both hilltop neighborhoods, with many streets built at an incline and many instances of stairways. Highland Park is set within a small valley on the way to Pasadena and has become a local center of nightlife, with a couple of really charming business districts along Figueroa Street and York Blvd that are home to some wonderful local shops and restaurants. Eagle Rock sits further to the north, between Glendale and Pasadena, and has another nice business district along Colorado Blvd and is home to the Occidental College, a fairly prestigious liberal arts college.
Six freeways serve the Eastside of Los Angeles. Interstate 5 parallels the Los Angeles River in Atwater Village, Glassell Park, Cypress Park and Lincoln Heights, before veering east in Boyle Heights. U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 60 also have a few exits in Boyle Heights before ending at the East Los Angeles Interchange. Interstate 10 runs for a few miles between Boyle Heights and Lincoln Heights. California State Route 110 (the Arroyo Seco Parkway) parallels the Arroyo Seco through Northeast LA. California State Route 2 runs north-south through Glassell Park and along the edge of Eagle Rock.
The Eastside and Northeast Los Angeles are served by the Metro train, which also serves Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles. The Gold Line has been split into two segments, in preparation for the completion of a new subway tunnel that will allow through-travel under Downtown to the south and west sides of the city. In the meantime, the segment that serves the Eastside makes three stops in East Los Angeles (on 3rd Street at Atlantic, East LA Civic Center, and Maravilla) and four stops in Boyle Heights (along 1st Street at Indiana, Soto, Mariachi Plaza, and Pico/Aliso), with shuttle buses completing the connection from Pico/Aliso station to Downtown until the new subway is finished. The segment that serves Northeast LA travels up from Union Station and makes stops at Lincoln/Cypress (at Avenue 26), Heritage Square, Southwest Museum, and Highland Park (at Avenue 57) before continuing northeast to Pasadena and into the LineSan Gabriel Valley.
A number of bus lines connect the Eastside to Downtown. These include Metro Bus Lines 18, 30, 62, 66, 70, 71, 76, 78, 79, 81, 83, 84, 94, 378, 794, and Montebello Bus Lines 40 and 50 (see below for timetables). The Metro Silver Line bus has one stop near the USC+LAC Medical Center, and another at Cal State University Los Angeles. The CSULA Silver Line station is also a Metrolink station.
Here are some of the major streets in the region:
- 1st Street: Runs east-west between Downtown and Monterey Park. Served by Metro Lines 30 and 106
- 4th Street: Runs east-west between Downtown and East Los Angeles, where it splits into Pomona and Beverly Boulevards. Served frequently by Montebello Bus Line 40
- Broadway Runs east-west in Lincoln Heights, then north-south into Downtown and South Los Angeles. Served frequently by Metro Line 45.
- Cesar Chavez Avenue: Runs east-west between Downtown and East Los Angeles College. Originally named Brooklyn Avenue when Boyle Heights was still a Jewish community. Served frequently by Metro Line 68 and Metro Rapid 770.
- Colorado Boulevard: Runs east-west between Glendale and Monrovia, including through Eagle Rock. Served frequently by Metro Lines 81, 180, 181 and Metro Rapid 780.
- Eagle Rock Boulevard Runs north-south in Glassel Park and Eagle Rock. Served by Metro Line 28
- Eastern Avenue: Runs north-south in El Sereno and East Los Angeles. Served by Metro Bus Line 256.
- Figueroa Street: Runs north-south between Eagle Rock and Lincoln Heights, and again from Downtown to the Harbor. Served frequently by Metro Line 81.
- Huntington Drive: Runs east-west between Lincoln Heights and Duarte, along a former streetcar right-of-way. Served frequently by Metro Lines 78, 79 and 378
- Marengo Street: Runs east-west parallel to Interstate 10 in Lincoln Heights and Boyle Heights. Served frequently by Metro Line 70.
- Olympic Boulevard: Runs east-west between Downtown and Montebello. Served by Metro Lines 62, 66, 665 and Montebello 50.
- San Fernando Road: Runs north-south between Lincoln Heights and the San Fernando Valley. Served frequently by Metro Lines 90, 91, 94, 603 and Metro Rapid 794.
- Soto Street: Runs north-south through Boyle Heights. Served by Metro Line 252, and frequently by Metro 251.
- Whittier Boulevard: Runs east-west between Downtown and Whittier. Whittier Boulevard is one of the main thoroughfares in unincorporated East Los Angeles, particularly for low-riding and taco trucks. It is the street that carries El Camino Real through East LA. Served frequently by Metro Line 18 and Metro Rapid 720
- York Boulevard: Runs east-west in Highland Park and Garvanza. Served by Metro Line 83.
- 1 Heritage Square, 3800 Homer St (Off CA-110 at Ave 43 exit), ☏ . F-Su and M holidays 11:30AM-4:30PM. A collection of historic houses and buildings from the late 19th century moved from other parts of Los Angeles to a museum on the Arroyo Seco. Features guided tours of those buildings, often by people in Victorian dress. $10 Adults (13-64), $8 seniors (65+), $5 children (6-12).
- 2 Lummis House, 200 E Ave 43, ☏ . F-Su noon-4PM. Arroyo stone house and gardens designed and built by Charles Lummis, author/journalist of the American West and founder of the Southwest Museum. Listed on the NRHP.
- 3 Los Angeles Police Museum, 6045 York Blvd (between Branch and Aldama), ☏ . M-F 10AM-4PM, third Sa of the month 9AM-3PM. Located in the former Highland Park Police Station, it displays the history of the LAPD from its 1869 beginnings General (13-61) $8, seniors (62+) $7, children (under 13) free.
- 4 Southwest Museum, 234 Museum Dr (above Marmion Way and Southwest Museum Gold Line Station), ☏ . Sa 10AM-4PM. Extensive collection of American Indian art and artifacts. It is a subsidiary of the Autry Museum and undergoing major renovations. Free.
- 1 Audubon Center at Debs Park, 4700 N Griffin Ave, ☏ . Tu-Sa 9AM-5PM. An urban nature center showcasing the native habitat that used to fill the Los Angeles Basin. Free.
- 2 Cafe NELA, 1906 Cypress Ave (Corner of Cypress Avenue and Macon Street (1 block west of Division street)). Thursday-Saturday 8PM-1AM, Sunday afternoon varies - see website.. Music venue and beer bar specializing in Punk Rock, Hard Rock, Jazz, and experimental music; featuring local bands and touring acts from Latin America, Asia, Australia, Europe, Canada, and the US. Beer only. 21 and over Cover charge $0-10, drinks $2-7.
- 1 El Mercado de Los Angeles (El Mercadito), 3425 E 1st St (at 1st and Lorena, two blocks west of the Indiana Gold Line station). 9AM-8PM. An indoor shopping center in Boyle Heights that is meant to emulate a traditional Latin American marketplace, with lots of local vendors selling authentic Mexican food and wares, some of which are hard to find north of the border. The bottom two floors are full of stalls and eateries, while the third floor is a popular mariachi restaurant. Spanish is the norm here, so it helps to know even some simple phrases.
- 1 El Tepeyac, 812 N Evergreen Ave (Between Wabash and Cesar Chavez), ☏ . M-Tu 6AM-8PM, W-Th, Su 6AM-9:45PM, F Sa 6AM-11PM. Famous for tostadas and burritos, in particular the Hollenbeck Burrito and the "Manuel Special" five-pound burrito.
- 2 El Arco Iris, 5684 York Blvd, ☏ . M-11AM-9PM, Tu-F 11AM-10PM, Sa 10AM-10PM, Su 10AM-9PM. Good Mexican food and margaritas in one of LA’s oldest neighborhoods.
- Kitchen Mouse, 5904 North Figueroa Street, ☏ . M-F 8AM-4PM, Sa Su 7AM-4PM. Kitchen Mouse is a predominantly plant-based breakfast and lunch cafe serving fresh, organic, California cuisine. Next door, TOPO by Kitchen Mouse is an entirely plant-based bakery, deli, and gift shop, specialising in gluten-free and vegan baked goods, sandwiches, and prepared dinners and deli sides to take home. (M-F 8AM-8PM, Sa Su 7AM-8PM).
- 1 Eagle Rock Brewery, 3056 Roswell St (off CA-2 and San Fernando Road), ☏ . W-Sa 4PM-10PM, Su noon-6PM. One of the only breweries based in the city of Los Angeles.
- 2 San Antonio Winery, 737 Lamar St (off of Main Street 0.3 mi west of I-5), ☏ . The oldest winery in the City of Los Angeles, founded 1917, and the only winery operating in Los Angeles from the 1930s to the 2000s. $12 wine tasting.
- 3 Galco's Old World Grocery, 5702 York Blvd (Highland Park neighborhood. Take the 83 to the "York & Avenue 57" bus stop), ☏ . Su 9AM–4PM; M–Sa 9AM–6:30PM. Stocks more than 700 different kinds of soda, and 600 types of craft beer and hard-to-find wine and spirits. The sodas come from all over the world, especially from old-fashioned, small-batch, family-owned businesses. If you've ever wondered what a cucumber soda would taste like, whether your childhood favorite still exists, or what to get for a homesick visitor, then stop by and look around. While you're in the neighborhood, the Los Angeles Police Museum is just a short stroll east along York Boulevard.
Lodging options are few and far between in this area, with nearly all accommodations being budget motels, many of which have lousy reputations. A much wider variety of lodging can be found in nearby Pasadena, Glendale, and Downtown LA.
- Downtown LA - southeast of the Eastside, downtown Los Angeles has been revitalized, and is now home to the impressive architecture of Disney Concert Hall, sporting and concert events at Staples Center, and a variety of dining and lodging options.
- Northwest LA - northwest of the Eastside, this area is home to Dodger Stadium and the massive Griffith Park and its world-famous observatory.
- Glendale - The third largest city in Los Angeles County is notable for the influence of Armenians on its food and culture, and also for the massive Forest Lawn Cemetery where a multitude of Hollywood stars are interred, including Walt Disney and Jimmy Stewart. The city is located to the north of the Eastside.
- Pasadena - The Eastside's northeastern neighbor, known as the "City of Roses", is famous for its New Year's Day parade and college football Bowl Game. Just beyond, the adjacent community of La Cañada Flintridge is the home of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where tours of interplanetary missions being prepped are available by reservation only.
- South Pasadena - east of the Eastside, South Pasadena is a small residential town with a number of places of historic interest, including a portion of Route 66 that passes through the town.
- Alhambra - This city's Lunar New Year Parade and Festival draws huge crowds and is well worth a visit if you are around for it. Alhambra is located to the east of the Eastside.
- Monterey Park - southeast of the Eastside, Monterey Park was known as "Little Taipei" in the 1980s and is a great place to experience authentic Chinese businesses and restaurants.
- Gateway Cities - The Gateway Cities of Huntington Park, Commerce and Montabello border the Eastside to the south.
|Routes through Eastside (by car)|
|Sacramento ← Downtown L.A. ←||N S||→ Commerce → Santa Ana|
|Santa Monica ← Downtown L.A. ←||W E||→ Alhambra → San Bernardino|
|Alhambra ← Monterey Park ←||N S||→ Commerce → Long Beach|
|Santa Monica ← Downtown L.A. ←||W E||→ South Pasadena → Barstow|
|Santa Monica ← Northwest L.A. ←||S N||→ Glendale → Wrightwood|
|END ← Downtown L.A. ←||W E||→ Monterey Park → Riverside|
|Pasadena ← South Pasadena ←||N S||→ Becomes → Downtown L.A. → San Pedro|
|North Hollywood ← Glendale ←||W E||→ Pasadena → Ends at|
|Routes through Eastside (by public transit)|
|Pasadena ← Downtown L.A. ←||W E||→ END|
|Pasadena ← South Pasadena ←||N S||→ Downtown L.A. → East L.A.|
|San Pedro ← Downtown L.A. ←||W E||→ El Monte → END|