Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock was founded in Highland Park in 1923 and constructed its building in 1930. It is the second oldest synagogue in Los Angeles still operating in its original location, after the Wilshire Boulevard Temple (built in 1929).
Highland Park has experienced economic highs and lows during its first 100 years, most recently enjoying a renaissance. After the Mexican–American War ended in 1848, California became part of the United States and Rancho San Rafael was subdivided, creating the neighborhood of Highland Park. In the early 20th century, Highland Park and neighboring Pasadena became havens for artists and intellectuals who led the Arts and Crafts movement.
But with the completion of Arroyo Seco Parkway in 1940, Highland Park began to change. By the 1950s, the artsy enclave experienced white flight, losing residents to the Mid-Wilshire district and newer neighborhoods in Temple City and in the San Fernando Valley. By the mid-1960s, it was becoming a largely Latino enclave. Mexican immigrants and their American-born children began owning and renting in Highland Park, with its schools and parks become places where residents debated how to fight discrimination and advance civil rights.
Starting in the early 2000s, a diverse mix of people began arriving to Highland Park to seek out, buy, and revitalize Craftsman homes, some which had suffered neglect over the decades. Many of Highland Park’s oldest homes were razed during the 1950s and 1960s. One architecturally significant home made its way to Heritage Square Museum, thanks to the efforts of local activists dedicated to saving Victorian homes scheduled for demolition. Like Echo Park and Eagle Rock, Highland Park has steadily seen some gentrification. People from across the region have been attracted to the historic Craftsman homes that escaped demolition. Its relatively low rents have made it increasingly popular among young people who value the walkable urban lifestyle afforded by the older style of neighborhood.
Once again, Highland Park is building a reputation as a mecca for artists, with trendy shops, galleries, bars and restaurants opening throughout the neighborhood. The continuation of several long-time businesses lend credibility to the neighborhood’s hipster status and add to its charm. One of the last typewriter shops in the City of Los Angeles, U.S. Office Machine Company, specializes in repairing antique typewriters and has restored a few for movie studios. It is one of three businesses located in the old Sunbeam Theatre. It is owned by longtime resident Jesse Flores. The popular landmark statue Chicken Boy was relocated from a downtown Los Angeles restaurant in 2007. The trendy clothing chain Forever 21was founded in Highland Park in 1984. The first store continues to operate in its original location bears the original name of the company, Fashion 21. New hipster clubs have joined the local dive bars, with all become trendy gathering places. The Old LA Certified Farmers Market opened in 2006, operating adjacent to the Highland Park Gold Line Station and providing a new nexus of community activity. A number of shops selling vintage clothes and boutiques offering hip home-decor accessories have opened along York Boulevard.