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Time to Settle the Question of Fashion District Geography

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, November 09, 2005, at 04:54PM

I think it's time the newspapers get straight the location of LA's Fashion District. There's a piece in today's New York Times that says

So despite the sewing and cutting that still takes place out of sight on upper floors, the garment district has been trying to reposition itself as the Los Angeles fashion district. Situated to the south and west of the financial district and to the north of the Santa Monica Freeway, it is home to more than 2,400 ground-floor retail stores and wholesale showrooms, nearly 500 of them added since 2001, according to the local business improvement district.

The Downtown News made the same claim about the district being "southwest of the Financial District" back in April. The problem is, both of them are wrong.

I'll admit, Downtown geography is tricky since we've got a grid system that sits crooked. Our north/south streets lean to the right, so just looking at the obvious of "oh, you have to go six or so blocks east" doesn't work.

To determine the veracity of this "southwest" claim you need to look at straight lines, and you first need to decide two things: a) where is the financial district? and b) where is the fashion district?

The financial district one is sort of ephemeral these days, but clearly you have to look at the modern towers and not the "Spring St Hist/Fin" of Wayfinding Sign fame. I think you're roughly left with a box bordered by Figueroa, 8th, Grand, and 3rd. So the center of that box would be the courtyard in front of the Central Library.

Here's how the Fashion District BID defines it's boundaries:

The LA Fashion District BID covers 90-blocks in downtown Los Angeles. General boundaries are from 7th Street to the north, Santa Monica Freeway to the south, Spring and Main Streets to the west and San Pedro Street to the east.

That's a big stretch of space, and a pure geographic center would be about 11th, between Maple and Santee.

If you make a straight line between those two centers you find that it's almost a pure north/south, but not quite. To go from our starting point in the financial district to our ending point in the fashion district you would have to orient your heading to 177.5 degrees and travel slightly east of south.

Therefore, once and for all, the fashion district is to the southeast of the financial district, not the southwest.


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