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DotDotDash: Holiday in "the Flats" Edition

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Thursday, December 06, 2007, at 11:05AM

The “Flats” is the isolated Los Angeles neighborhood sitting between the eastside bluffs and the L.A. River. Take a look, via DotDotDash, at some history and hope found in the area culturally linked to Boyle Heights, and geographically related to the Arts District:

SITTING ALONG THE RIVER: While Boyle Heights was becoming the new homeland for immigrants in the early 20th Century, Molokan Russians fled the Bolshevik revolution and some settled in the Flats, providing a new workforce for the local lumberyards. Many built small homes and some are still standing today ..— The Russian rush changed the Flats turn of the century reputation of ‘worst slum” in the country..—Tenements once extended from the bluffs to across the river at Vignes and Aliso, where the Arts District is now located.

The Dock Downtown'United we stand. And, more importantly, united we sit.': That’s the tagline for The Dock Downtown (1481 East 4th St), the upscale home furnishing retailer that sells made-to-order upholstered and wood furniture. According to store manager Donnette Ortel, some items are up to 80% off retail. ..— HELPING NEIGHBORS During the holiday season, owner Ali Ferber helps impoverished families with a holiday special. When anyone buys a couch, The Dock Downtown donates an upholstered chair to community-based nonprofit L.A. Family Housing, who then passes it along to a family rebuilding their home. L.A. Family Housing's Stephanie Klasky-Gamer says, “When families lose their home, we work hard to help them retain their dignity. It is a symbol of respect for the families during a challenging time.”

..—

The FlatsNEW COURTYARD: The Dolores Mission Catholic Church recently held a dedication for phase one of a new brick covered plaza that connects the church with the Parish Hall and day-care center...— The church has a long history of helping those in poverty and its program, Comunidad en Movimiento, was awarded the 2007 Sister Margaret Cafferty Development of People Award from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) last February. ..—

Previous Life: Those low-income residents once came from the 1940s Federal Government Housing Projects known as Pico Gardens, Aliso Village and Aliso Extension. It was razed for the current homes, some from the the HOPE VI project..— Many east siders still call the area Pico-Aliso.

..—

Our LadyFREEWAY SIGHTING: At Kolster and Pecan street, Refugio Lopez lives next to a freeway sound wall. Five years ago he had muralist Raul Gonzales and friends paint an Our Lady of Guadalupe on the wall portion that dead ends the street..— Lopez even got the City to paint the curb red and place a No Parking Anytime sign next to the icon, and now each year he places holiday lights all over the short street. Unknown Link: Lopez shares the story of how his "new" home, built in the early 1900s, was purchased in 1998 from “an older Russian lady” who inherited it from her family.

The past is never far away in the Flats.

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