Downtown Los Angeles is a work in progress. The sustained construction boom of the past decade continues although the influx of newcomers to the area has slowed a bit. Coffee shops and bike lanes line the major thoroughfares as far as the eye can see and the new Broad Museum has already become a defining architectural landmark. This part of the city has been transformed so dramatically that it’s easy to forget things were ever any different, but not too long ago they were. The only constant in Los Angeles is change, but most long term residents remember a very different place once existed.
My oldest sister used to work in the Banco Popular building on the corner of 4th and Spring. My earliest memories of Downtown Los Angeles are visiting her there afterschool when I was a kid. Being so young I was fascinated by the sheer amount of people and the different bus lines that converged in the city center. As we walked to the bus stop after she got off work, the streets gradually emptied in unison with the setting sun. At the time Downtown was a place workers abandoned at the end of each weekday, only to return the following morning and repeat the cycle again and again.
Today the remaking of Downtown Los Angeles is almost complete. Initially concentrated near the Staples Center, the wave of redevelopment has extended to every corner of the area and beyond. In it’s wake an economically underachieving urban center has turned into an area that drives the local economy. On the surface the revitalization of Downtown Los Angeles was a great success but, as is often the case with large scale gentrification, a great deal of cultural capital was lost in the process.
Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin is a Los Angeles based photographer whose work focuses on documenting life in the urban environment.