July 3, 2008
Best street for a J-cation? Fairfax!
(Page 2 - Previous Page)Directions back to Beverly Boulevard:
From the statue, turn left and proceed north on Gardner Street. Walk up this tree-lined street and you'll see mostly Spanish Revival homes. About half way to Beverly, you will see on your left the Fairfax branch of the Los Angeles Public Library (161 S. Gardner). Inside are bathrooms, water, air-conditioning and a good stock of Jewish-related titles, including the Jerusalem Post. Continuing north on Gardner, proceed until Beverly, where you will cross at the light. Turn left. Walk west, back to Fairfax, passing on your right Etz Jacob, a longtime area Orthodox congregation. Continue until you reach the corner of Beverly and Fairfax.
8. Raoul Wallenberg
Angelenos drive by Raoul every day thinking, "Who is this guy?" Businessman? Robot? Just another winged dude from L.A.? This modern stainless steel and bronze sculpture by Artist Franco Assetto, with Wallenberg's arm outstretched, serves as a reminder that there were some who reached out and rescued. The accompanying plaque tells the story of how during World War II this Swedish diplomat saved thousands of Hungarian Jews and then was captured and "disappeared" by the Red Army.
Continue walking on the east side of Fairfax, north past the Freda Mohr Senior Center, a Jewish Social Service agency. You will begin to see some of the new Fairfax -- skateboard and shirt boutiques that have opened in the last five years.
9. Reserve, 410 N. Fairfax
Reserve, a boutique that opened with an inaugural Star of David hat, carries shirts and hats of interest to hipsters and skateboarders. They are also creating a bit of local pride by creating a full line of shirts and hats with "Fairfax" either printed or embroidered on them.
10. Family, 436 N. Fairfax
One of this new bookstore's owners, David Kramer, described the store's back wall photomural as a "group of Jewish vigilantes defending against a pogrom." The historic photo of capped and mustachioed men is not your parent's Fairfax -- the men are seated or standing, each carrying a very unconcealed weapon: rifle, pistol or saber. One warningly waves a Yiddish flag. It's a new generation's blow up, enlarged for re-examination.
Continue walking north, past the Kosher News newsstand, past Western Kosher and Atara's Hebrew Book and Gift Center (great for Purim hats). Walk until you reach Fairfax High School, on your right.
11. Fairfax High School
Opened in 1924, Fairfax High was built on land that was originally low and swampy. Demographically, in the late '50s up until the early '70s, it was the Jewish high school of Los Angeles. Now it's culturally and ethnically diverse, with some Jewish enrollment. Famous Jewish alumni include musician Herb Alpert, songwriter Jerry Lieber (Lieber & Stoller), writer and TV producer Larry Gelbart, major league baseball players Norm and Larry Sherry, and L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.
The tour ends here -- right where the Fairfax story began.
Edmon J. Rodman, as part of the Nextbook Jewish Geography Festival at UCLA, built a pop-up shtetl.
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