Palms (originally “The Palms”) is a highly diverse, population-dense community in the Westside district of Los Angeles, California, founded in 1886 and the oldest neighborhood annexed to the city, in 1915. The 1886 tract was marketed as an agricultural and vacation community. Today it is a primarily residential area, with a large number of apartment buildings, ribbons of commercial zoning and a quiet single-family residential area in its northwest corner.
As of the 2000 census the population of Palms was 42,545, and the city estimated its population at 45,475 in 2008. With a population density of 21,983 people per square mile it is one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Palms is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Residents were 38.3% white, 20.2% Asian, 12.2% African-American, 23.4% Latino, and 5.9% from other races. The median household income was $50,684, about average for the city.
Almost half the residents (45.9%) had a four-year degree, which was a high figure compared to the city has a whole. The percentage of residents aged 19 to 34 was among the county’s highest.
Until the early 1960s, most of Palms was single-family homes and small duplexes and triplexes, most of which were built in the Craftsman and Spanish Colonial styles that dominated Southern California in the first quarter of the 20th century. Under pressure to provide affordable housing, the city of Los Angeles rezoned most of the district for large multifamily dwellings. (Homeowners’ associations in Westside Village, Mar Vista, Rancho Park, and Beverlywood successfully banded together to fight against any such rezoning in their neighborhoods.) This had the result of most of Palms’ historic housing stock being razed and replaced with two-story (or larger) apartment buildings. Very few original houses remain, and many of those are on lots where additional housing units have been built on what were once backyards. Palms is now one of Los Angeles’ most densely populated neighborhoods, but the average household size of two people was low compared to the city at large.
The housing stock in historic Palms is now almost completely composed of apartment buildings, and 92% of the population there are renters. In 2000, rentals in the entire Palms neighborhood amounted to 86.9% of occupied dwellings, compared to 13.1% of owner-occupied units. The upscale Westside Village district contains the only significant remaining concentration of owner-occupied single-family homes, largely constructed by developer Fritz Burns in assembly-line style just before World War II; most of these houses have been expanded during their lifetime, and some have been replaced in recent years by bigger, two-story dwellings. Apartment buildings, including two UCLA family- and graduate-student housing complexes, line even Westside Village’s major thoroughfares.
Palms’ diversity is reflected in its landmarks. Religious sites include the complexes of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness on Watseka Avenue and the Iranian-American Muslim Association of North America (IMAN) on Motor Avenue.
Palms has a large number of Indian and Pakistani restaurants and businesses. In addition, it is also one of the centers of the Brazilian community in Los Angeles, with a number of Brazilian-oriented restaurants and shops, and one nightclub. In 1979 the original Chippendales erotic male dancing club at 3739 Overland Avenue at McCune Avenue was started by Bengali immigrant Steve Banerjee when he turned his nightclub-disco, Destiny II, into a venue for male strippers.
The area is host to an unusual museum, the Museum of Jurassic Technology, and a research institute, the Center for Land Use Interpretation. It has a legitimate theater, the Ivy Substation, which is now home to the Actors Gang, led by Tim Robbins. The Ivy Substation is within Media Park, which has been leased to Culver City on a long-term basis.
Mar Vista is a highly diverse residential and commercial neighborhood in West Los Angeles, California. It is the home of Venice High School, two private schools, a branch public library and a city park. According to the Mapping L.A. project of the Los Angeles Times, Mar Vista is adjoined on the northeast by Palms, on the east, southeast and south by Culver City, on the west by Venice and on the northwest by Santa Monica.
The 2000 U.S. census counted 35,492 residents in the 2.9-square-mile Mar Vista neighborhood—an average of 12,259 people per square mile, about the norm for Los Angeles; in 2008, the city estimated that the population had increased to 37,447. The median age for residents was 35, considered the average for Los Angeles; the percentage of residents aged 19 through 34 was among the county’s highest.
The neighborhood was highly diverse ethnically, but the percentage of Asian people was high for the county. The breakdown was whites, 51.3%; Latinos, 29.1%; Asians, 12.8%, blacks, 3.5%; and others, 3.4%. Mexico (36%) and Korea (6%) were the most common places of birth for the 33.5% of the residents who were born abroad—considered an average figure for Los Angeles.
The median yearly household income in 2008 dollars was $62,611, an average figure for Los Angeles. The average household size of 2.3 people was low for both the city and the county. Renters occupied 60.6% of the housing stock and house- or apartment owners held 39.4%.
The Mar Vista Recreation Center has an auditorium, barbecue pits, an unlighted baseball diamond, lighted indoor basketball courts, lighted outdoor basketball courts, a children’s play area, an indoor gymnasium without weights, an outdoor roller hockey rink, an outdoor AstroTurf soccer field, picnic tables, a lighted tennis court, an outdoor pool and a lighted volleyball court.