Greater Los Angeles has what is believed to be the second-largest collection of garden apartments in the nation (behind Arlington County, Virginia), with nearly forty built from the late 1930s through the mid-1950s.
Though varied in their execution, these complexes were characterized by a high ratio of open space to buildings, the placement of residential units for maximum sunlight and fresh air, and the separation of pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
The intent and design of these places puts people first, prioritizing a high standard of living and opportunities for social interaction. Decades after their construction, they continue to foster a spirit of community for their residents.
Nevertheless, Los Angeles-area garden apartments are increasingly vulnerable places.
Their large sites and open spaces, moderate-to-low density, and valuable real estate put them at risk for demolition and redevelopment.
The Conservancy and many others have pursued successful efforts to save historic garden apartment communities following project proposals to demolish and redevelop sites. The latest threat involves a plan to redevelop and destroy Wyvernwood Garden Apartments in the Boyle Heights neighborhood.
Both the private and public sectors embraced the garden apartment complex as a relatively new building type and planning approach for Los Angeles in the 1930s. The idea caught on throughout the U.S., propelled by the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) preference for this new form of housing and subsequent backing with loan guarantees.
Despite their continued community importance, garden apartments are a common target for redevelopment. The present desire for higher density housing places immense pressure on these low-density complexes.
In recent years, Chase Knolls and Lincoln Place were the subjects of hard-fought preservation battles. Both campaigns brought together a team of residents, preservationists, and elected officials to achieve win-win solutions for those historic sites.
Today, the Conservancy is working closely with a community coalition to prevent the demolition of Wyvernwood Garden Apartments in Boyle Heights. The first large-scale garden apartment complex in Los Angeles, Wyvernwood is now home to a close-knit and thriving Latino/a community, generations in the making.
You can make a real difference in efforts to preserve L.A.'s historic garden apartment communities. Here's how:
Help Save Wyvernwood
Right now, efforts are heating up to preserve Wyvernwood Garden Apartments in Boyle Heights. The city's first large-scale apartment community is threatened with demolition. We will need a lot of public support in the coming months. Please visit our Wyvernwood issue page to learn more. Thank you!
Join the Network
By joining the Garden Apartment Network, you'll be added to an e-mail list exclusively regarding L.A.'s garden apartments and our efforts to preserve them. Through these emails we'll let you know about upcoming events and other ways to participate in this exciting initiative.
Share Your Story
Long-term tenants of garden apartments attest to the close-knit community and family ties spanning generations, fostered by their unique design and emphasis on open space. Do you currently live in or did you grow up in one of Los Angeles’ historic garden apartment communities?
We want to hear your stories and what garden apartments mean to you, your family, and community. Share your story now!