If history had played out differently, the Echo Park area could have ended up as the entertainment capital of the world instead of Hollywood. Today, this hilly neighborhood located just southeast of Hollywood continues to be a favorite location among filmmakers due to the pre-war look of some districts. Some scenes from Michael Jackson’s 1983 “Thriller” music video were shot in the area.
Before World War I struck, the Los Angeles film industry was concentrated in the Echo Park area. Keystone Studios, the first enclosed film studio in history built by Mack Sennett in 1912, still exists in the neighborhood. The area is equally famous for the variety of personalities who have lived in the neighborhood. Prior to World War I, Echo Park earned the moniker “Red Hill” due to the number of political radicals who lived in the neighborhood. Many notable artists and celebrities have lived in the area due to relatively affordable housing and ambience of the neighborhood. Famous luminaries from the area include writer Ayn Rand, actor Shia LaBeouf, film director John Huston, and painter Jackson Pollock.
Over time the area has also attracted Asian and Latino immigrants, resulting in festivals that celebrate both cultures held every year. There’s the Cuban festival held in May to commemorate Cuba’s independence and Jose Marti, a Cuban poet and patriot. There’s also the Lotus Festival, named after the large amount of lotus plants that used to grown on Echo Park’s lake, which showcases the different Asian ethnicities and even has an exciting dragon boat race. The Lotus Festival celebration features Asian artists who have made a mark in their respective fields like George Takei of Star Trek fame.
Take a trip down Echo Park neighborhood and who knows, you just might find yourself playing an extra in a Hollywood feature.