Residents Grapple With Change Coming To View Park, LA's 'Black Beverly Hills'

Gilbert Wright remembers playing football on the street with Ike and Tina Turner’s children.  He hung out with the kids of former professional baseball player Curt Flood, who lived up the street. Joseph Pimentel, Bisnow Peggy Wright, 90, of View Park Los Angeles He knew a member of The Platters or another popular black music group lived down the road. Musician Ray Charles lived nearby on South Ridge Avenue. Dancer Debbie Allen had a home in the neighborhood; so did former Los Angeles Lakers star Michael Cooper. His other neighbors were mostly African-American professionals — judges, lawyers, doctors, architects, business people and police officers, he said. Growing up, he said, it was a glorious time to live in View Park. The hilltop community nicknamed the Black Beverly Hills of Los Angeles, along with nearby neighborhoods Ladera Heights, Windsor Hills and Baldwin Hills, made up one of the most affluent predominantly African-American enclaves in the nation.

The Wrights in 1963 were among the first African-Americans to move into the View Park neighborhood, said Wright's 90-year-old mom, Peggy. “When you’re a kid you don’t realize the environment that you’re living in,” said Gilbert Wright, a 55-year-old attorney in the Los Angeles District Attorney's office, who recently moved back to View Park.  “To me, it just felt like a middle-class existence,” he said. “I had both my mom and dad. The kids in the neighborhood all wanted to go to college. As I got older, that’s when I realized that it wasn’t like that in all of the black communities.” But times are changing in the neighborhood.  With soaring home prices, the dearth of housing in Los Angeles and huge homes with large lots and the area’s attractive central location, more non-African-Americans are moving in. Not that it is a bad thing, Wright said. “It’s a trip,” Gilbert Wright said. “These are the people that moved out when blacks started moving in and now, they are moving back but for a hefty price.” Peggy Wright said she thinks these are the kids or grandkids of those first white parents who lived in View Park that remember the beauty of this area.  "They want to move back here," she said inside her quaint home on Olympiad Drive. Read more..........

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