LA is a city of contradictions. When I first moved back here, I was dismayed to see how in some communities residents and and businesses would just pile trash on the sidewalks and streets.Tons of it. On the other side of that coin we see neighborhoods banding together to take responsibility for their communities and beautifying them with mural projects, gardens and more.
The Shakespeare Gardens under the Shakespeare Bridge on Franklin Street is a perfect example. Though the bridge passes through the upscale Franklin Hills neighborhood it the area under the bridge was plagued by homeless encampments, and other problems. These include graffiti, drug use and even people using the grounds under the bridge to commit lewd acts.
The bridge is loved by the neighboring residents. The sentiment is the bridge is both architecture and art of great value. Its Gothic shapes, with gentle, graceful lines don’t overwhelm its beautiful neighborhood setting. Its turrets make it a fun place to be, whether driving or walking.
It also represents the rich cultural heritage of the neighborhood. There are persistent rumors that the bridge was used in a scene from the movie Wizzard of Oz. There is skepticism about that, including from sources at MGM, Warner Bros., Turner Entertainment, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Conservancy, but no on-record, outright denial of the bridge’s use in the film has been made.
In the 1920s, Walt and Roy Disney had homes next door to each other on Lyric Avenue just two blocks from the bridge. The first Walt Disney Studios were located nearby and the brothers were able to walk to work.
Back to the homeless encampment and graffiti problem, neighborhood complaints in 2003 sparked the project involving the City Council, neighborhood association and neighboring homeowners to create the gardens. By beautifying the area with the gardens the neighbors hoped to rid it of the undesirable elements.
I’d say it was successful. Look at the pictures. There isn’t a bit of graffiti, drug paraphernalia, or trash to be found. You can see the garden at 1900 Monan Street in the Franklin Hills/Los Feliz neighborhoods of Los Angeles.
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