There was a time when Los Angeles’ Arts District was actually an arts district. The 1960s and ’70s saw plenty of broke artists in search of affordable space move into the area’s abandoned warehouses. In a few short years the misused industrial area was completely transformed. Cheap bars and coffee houses hosted DIY art exhibitions and gigs. Many a well-known street artist honed their craft here. Bands like the Residents, the Fall, and Sonic Youth played some of their earliest LA shows in the Arts District. The neighborhood became such a phenomenon that in 1980 the city passed the Artist-In-Residence bill, rezoning the area and making it easier for artists to comfortably live there.
Those days are long gone. The affordable artist housing is few and far between. Most of the old bars and coffee shops have shuttered, replaced with upscale restaurants and hoity-toity art galleries. “Disrupters” like WeWork, Soylent, and Honey hold offices in the repurposed warehouses. So does Spotify, though you would not know that from the sidewalk. Its neon sign can only be viewed by entering a courtyard at the corner of Mateo and Palmetto Streets. One wonders why, in a city that has had such a massive impact on popular music, the streaming giant feels the need to hide its face.
Read more at Jacobin.