Let me begin by saying: There are no “best” streets in Los Angeles…there are only “favorite” streets. But if there is one that does it for me, it’s Fairfax Avenue which is a major North/South artery which spawns from West Adams, hits the 10 Freeway, cuts right through the heart of the city, and ends in the West Hollywood area.
No matter what, I will always have a soft spot for Fairfax: In my earlier years, I worked at The Dime which is a classic LA nightlife establishment located on Fairfax between Beverly and Melrose. Unlike most bars in LA, The Dime is still very much operating and has been open for 20+ years (Shout out to The Dime Fam). If you’re into old school hip hop, The Dime is where you go. The first apartment deal I ever brokered was also located on Fairfax. It was an 8-Unit apartment building just north of Pico Boulevard, which to this day is still one of the most value-add of value-add deals that I have ever come across.
Driving North on Fairfax from the area just south of the 10 Freeway yesterday, the diversity of both the people and the real estate becomes very apparent – and it once again reminded me of why it’s my favorite street in Los Angeles.
Here is what you will see while driving on Fairfax:
West Adams (Fairfax between Adams and the 10 Freeway): Fairfax starts in the West Adams area, just South of the 10 Freeway where it splits off from La Cienega. What’s undeniable about West Adams is its historical charm and architectural heritage – full of craftsman and Victorian homes built at the turn of the century, as well as 1950s and 1960s vintage apartment buildings (also called ‘dingbats’). When you cross Adams Blvd on Fairfax and look to the right, you can get a peek at just how much the area has transitioned from infill retail to new office, hospitality and residential developments.
Little Ethiopia (Fairfax between Pico and Olympic): Just north of Pico Blvd on Fairfax, you will pass a vibrant and bustling neighborhood that is a testament to LA’s diverse cultural fabric. The best Ethiopian restaurants in LA are clearly on this block of Fairfax – so is Hansen’s Cakes which has been around since 1920 and is one of LA’s most famous bakeries.
Historic Homes of Carthay (Fairfax between Olympic and Wilshire): Just past Little Ethiopia you will pass Carthay Square on the West side of the street, which is one of LA’s 35 Historic Preservation Overlay Zones. You’ll see amazing historic Spanish style homes built in the 1920s and 1930s whose character and aesthetic are protected and maintained by the HPOZ mentioned above.
Iconic Museums (Fairfax at Wilshire): As you hit Wilshire Blvd, you’ll pass Museum Row on the right – which is the stretch of Wilshire Boulevard that extends between Fairfax Avenue and La Brea Avenue on Wilshire Blvd. Driving North on Fairfax, you’ll pass The Peterson Automotive Museum (RIP Biggie), the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, and LACMA which is just east of Fairfax on Wilshire.
The Grove (Fairfax between Third Street and Beverly): The Grove (and adjacent Farmers Market) which are at the intersection of Fairfax and 3rd Street are two LA Landmarks that need zero introduction. If you live in LA and you have not been-to or at least heard-of The Grove, I would urge you to step outside of your house a bit more frequently. The Grove is also across the street from the CBS Television City studio, which sold a couple of years ago for $1.85 Billion.
LA’s Streetwear District (Fairfax between Beverly and Melrose): While some argue that LA’s Fairfax Streetwear district has had its best days behind it, legendary streetwear brands like Supreme, Diamond Supply Company and The Hundreds were built on this stretch of Fairfax. But prior to the influx of new-age retail stores, it would be a disservice to ignore the roots of this part of Fairfax, which was a historic center and Bastian of the LA Jewish community. Many of the LA Jewish population in the city—who had previously resided in Eastside neighborhoods like Boyle Heights, City Terrace, and East Los Angeles—moved to this area of Fairfax Ave prior to World War II, establishing delis, restaurants, kosher butchers and bakeries – some of which still exist like Canter’s Deli and Diamond Kosher Bakery which have been neighborhood staples since the 1940s.
West Hollywood (Fairfax between Melrose and Sunset): Drive North on Fairfax long enough and you will hit WeHo. No real need to expand on West Hollywood and its happenings – incredible area with no shortage of action. If we are talking about areas of LA that need zero introduction, West Hollywood is at or near the top of that list. And Fairfax cuts right through WeHo until it ends just north of Hollywood Boulevard.
Is there more history on Fairfax Avenue than included in the brief, drive-by window synopsis above? Of course. Are there other streets in LA that may be just as favorable (or better)? Very well could be the case. But if you are comparing all of the major North/South arteries which are off-ramps of the 10 Freeway from the Beach to Downtown (ie, 26th Street, Bundy, Robertson, La Cienega, La Brea, Crenshaw, Arlington, Western, etc) – for me it’s Fairfax all-day, every-day.