Cypress Park is the gateway to the North from downtown Los Angeles. Located where the 110 Parkway meets the 5 Freeway, it acts as the perfect access point to the burgeoning neighborhoods of Highland Park, Glassell Park, Frogtown/Elysian Heights, and Lincoln Heights. Bookended by aqueducts and currently experiencing a massive restoration of the LA river ecosystem, this community has an emerging cultural scene. Galleries are popping up (Bermudez Projects, Curve Line Space, Digital Debris Video, Frame Monster) and cool bars are already here (Footsies and Permanent Records Roadhouse), artists are moving in, Atwater’s, Proof Bakery is renovating a large building on Cypress Avenue to introduce this incredible bakery to the neighborhood, and rumor has it that Hauser & Wirth will be renovating the Southwest Museum into a boutique hotel and art destination up the street. The Taylor Yard River Project (seen as the heart of the entire LA River revitalization project) will be adding a substantial amount of park area to the community, from riverfront marshes, parks, pathways, to river viewing platforms. In addition, a new pedestrian/bike bridge is under construction (with added river front access) crossing the river to connect pedestrians and cyclists from Cypress Park to Frogtown. This bridge will connect to the LA River path, which will eventually connect to DTLA allowing locals to stroll or bike into the city.
I cannot mention the future without stating the present. What Cypress Park is, is a community with a strong sense of self. Home to a majority of latino families who have lived here for decades, their rich cultural expressions of faith, food, and feistiness are the spine of this neighborhood. From the lovely chiming of the church bells in the distance of the Divine Savior Church, calling those of faith to prayer, to favorite local, authentic Mexican restaurants, such as Lupitas and La Abeja, to the best skate shop in the city, Maintain.
Soon one will be able to walk to the river in Cypress Park and glance south, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, and witness the meandering and beautiful pathway leading to the city of Oz… I mean City of Angels. And should you discover that you are wearing ruby slippers, just know that they were stolen from the Wicked Witch of the West, used to liberate the oppressed people of Oz, a symbol of revolution, a symbol of the little gal or guy triumphing over powerful forces. This in many ways, is the story of Cypress Park.