By Paul Medina
The areas of Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles, while distinct from each other have a long, storied past.
Boyle Heights is a community in the City of Los Angeles, while East Los Angeles is an incorporated area.
Nestled in the Southeast Los Angeles area, the working communities have each undergone transformations over the past 100 years.
Previously, Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles was inhabited by the Shoshone Indians who were later renamed the Gabrielino Indians.
At the turn of the 20th century a strong population of Russian immigrants inhabited the Boyle Heights and surrounding areas.
Remnants of such descendants can be found buried on 2nd/Eastern at the Russian Molokan Cemetery.
The communities were also home to a strong Jewish diaspora. It is widely known that Boyle Heights was a stronghold of Jewish residents.
The street known as Cesar E. Chavez was previously known as Brooklyn Avenue.
Such tribute is believed to be a tribute to the large number of Jewish residents who moved from Brooklyn, New York. This area was the largest Jewish concentration in the United States.
While the street has been renamed references can still be found.
Brooklyn Elementary still holds the name and Brooklyn Hardware on the corner of Gage Ave still bares the name.
Before the name change to Cesar E. Chavez Ave, or as it’s known Avenida Cesar Chavez in Monterey Park, East Los Angeles College was located on Brooklyn Avenue.
Boyle Heights was the birthplace of the famous Canter’s Deli which is now located in the Fairfax District.
Known for their delicatessen and famous Corned Beef sandwiches, the famous restaurant was founded at Brooklyn and Soto Streets.
An attempt has been made to continue promoting the Jewish history.
Once the site of dozens of synagogues, none exist in operation.
Of the many, the most notable would be the Breed Street Shul.
In August, California Assembly members Jesse Gabriel and Miguel Santiago announced the securing of $14.9 million in state funding to restore the Breed Street Shul which is listed as a Historic landmark.
According to an ABC 7 news article “From 1910 to 1950, Boyle Heights was [the] largest Jewish community west of the Mississippi,” said founding president of the Breed Street Shul Project nonprofit Stephen Sass.
On Nov. 27, a lighting of the Menorah on the first day of Hanukkah celebration occurred.
The event hosted many dignitary and community guests.
Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles were also home to a strong Japanese American community.
Countless residents and businesses in the community were owned by Japanese Americans in the mid-20th century.
On first street and Mott a notable Buddhist church exists. This is a sign of the once thriving Japanese community that called Boyle Heights home.
The communities of Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles have gone through many changes.
Most recently, a strong Hispanic community has become the social fabric there.
Regardless of the ethnic shifts, cultural transformation or demographic changes, one thing is for sure.
Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles will remain home for countless residents for generations to come.