African American Historic Places, Los Angeles, a collaboration between Los Angeles City Planning’s Office of Historic Resources and Getty, seeks to advance the understanding, identification, protection, conservation, and celebration of the city’s Black heritage. It provides the opportunity to rethink historic preservation policies and processes to better support social justice and equity goals.
African American Historic Places, Los Angeles
African American Historic Places, Los Angeles builds on the City’s long-standing partnership with Getty, which began in 2005 with the goal of establishing a comprehensive framework for the identification and management of the City’s historic resources. This partnership resulted in SurveyLA, Los Angeles’ first-ever citywide survey of historic resources, and HistoricPlacesLA, the citywide inventory of historic resources.
In 2018, the City of Los Angeles completed the African American History of Los Angeles Context Statement, a framework for identifying and evaluating properties related to African American history in Los Angeles. Produced as part of the overall citywide survey, the context statement was a first step in addressing the little-known and under-recognized heritage of African Americans in Los Angeles.
Despite the ambitious and comprehensive survey efforts undertaken by the City, its traditional historic designation programs do not yet equitably encompass the diversity and richness of the African American experience in Los Angeles. As of January 2023, only 4% of the city’s 1,260 locally designated landmarks (Historic-Cultural Monuments) reflect associations with African American history.
African American Historic Places Los Angeles will advance the City’s 2018 framework by reconnecting with communities to take a closer look at Los Angeles’s African American heritage, prioritizing places to bring forward for historic designation, and identifying priority areas for further strategic cultural preservation work to understand, recognize, interpret, and protect this heritage.
A robust community engagement program will facilitate meaningful participation in the process, draw on local knowledge of hidden histories, and contribute to the development of creative approaches that best meet communities’ own aims for placemaking, identity, and empowerment.
In addition to a specific focus on significant African American heritage sites and neighborhoods in Los Angeles, the project seeks to identify current land use planning and historic preservation policies and practices that must be rethought to ensure support of antiracist outcomes. This work will be informed by a research program and convening of international, national, and local experts to share knowledge and identify tools that could support the work.
The Getty Conservation Institute and the Office of Historic Resources will undertake a range of activities to support the project’s goals, including:
- expanding and refining the City’s existing 2018 African American historic context statement
- identifying and officially designating additional African American historic places
- developing better cultural heritage strategies to manage, preserve, interpret, and celebrate the tangible and intangible heritage of historically Black neighborhoods
- creating a network of community-based preservation advocates
- intentionally engaging local communities and providing opportunities for public participation in conserving their heritage
- providing opportunities for emerging professionals working to preserve Black heritage through activities such as internships
The project has established a 15-member local advisory committee to share knowledge and provide strategic guidance and support to advance the project’s work:
Susan D. Anderson, History Curator and Program Manager, California African American Museum
David Crippens, Consultant and Civic Leader; former Vice President, KCET
Jason Foster, President and Chief Operating Officer, Destination Crenshaw
Lorn Foster, Emeritus Professor of Politics, Pomona College
Sherri Franklin, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Urban Design Center
Karen E. Hudson, Director, Paul R. Williams Architectural Collection; Author
Crystal Jackson, President, Pacoima Historical Society; Producer, “Pacoima Stories”
Gail Kennard, Cultural Heritage Commission, City of Los Angeles; Principal, Kennard Design Group
R. Steven Lewis, FAIA, NOMA, Principal, ZGF Architecture and Interior Design, Los Angeles; Board Member, National Organization of Minority Architects
Oshea Luja, Founder, StillWaters Network; Author and Poet
Karen Mack, City Planning Commission, City of Los Angeles; Executive Director, LA Commons
Naomi Nightingale, PhD, Owner, Nightingale and Associates, LLC
Diane Robertson, Vice President, CBS Studios Law Department
Roland Wiley, AIA, NOMA, Founding Partner/Principal, RAW International
Jasmin A. Young, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Ethnic Studies, UC Riverside
In addition, the GCI and the City convened a virtual roundtable of national and local thought leaders with experience in urban planning, historic preservation, African American history, and grassroots and community organizing, whose December 2021 discussions of diversity and inclusion in preservation policy helped focus and refine the project’s goals and approach:
Thought Leader Meeting Participants:
Brent Leggs, Executive Director, African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, National Trust for Historic Preservation (Moderator); Fallon Aidoo, PhD, Jean Brainard Boebel Endowed Professor of Historic Preservation, Department of Planning and Urban Studies, University of New Orleans; Carson Anderson, Preservation Director / Senior Planner, Community Development Department, City of Sacramento Planning Department; Susan D. Anderson, History Curator and Program Manager, California African American Museum; Milton S.F. Curry, Dean, Della & Harry MacDonald Dean’s Chair, University of Southern California School of Architecture; Denise E. Gilmore, Senior Director, Office of Social Justice & Racial Equity, Office of Mayor Randall L. Woodfin, City of Birmingham & Special Director of Transition, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; Gail Kennard, Cultural Heritage Commission, City of Los Angeles & Principal, Kennard Design Group; R. Steven Lewis, FAIA, NOMA, Principal, ZGF Architecture & Interior Design, Los Angeles & Board Member, National Organization of Minority Architects; Karen Mack, City Planning Commission, City of Los Angeles & Executive Director, LA Commons; Justin Garrett Moore, AICP, NOMA, Executive Director, New York Public Design Commission & Board Member, BlackSpace; Andrea Roberts, PhD, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and an Associate Director of the Center for Housing & Urban Development at Texas A&M University, founder of The Texas Freedom Colonies Project
Getty Conservation Institute:
Susan Macdonald, Project Director; Sara Lardinois, Project Manager; Rita Cofield, Project Leader; Micaela Shea, Senior Project Coordinator; Gail Ostergren, Research Specialist; Lauren O’Brien, Getty Graduate Intern (2022–2023); Getty Marrow Undergraduate Interns: Elena Prado (2022) and Jordan White (2021)
Los Angeles City Planning:
Ken Bernstein, Principal City Planner, Office of Historic Resources and Urban Design Studio; Arthi Varma, Deputy Director for Citywide Policy; Faisal Roble, Principal City Planner and Chief Equity Officer; Shannon Ryan, Senior City Planner, Office of Historic Resources; Sara Delgadillo, Planning Assistant, Office of Historic Resources
Web Banner Image:
Brockman Gallery, 1967–90, Leimert Park. Photo: Elizabeth Daniels, © J. Paul Getty Trust.
From 1967–90, this row of storefronts was occupied by the Brockman Gallery. The Black-owned gallery exhibited works of both emerging and established African American artists and helped forge a thriving Black art and business community in Leimert Park.