When the City You Once Knew Disappears

What used to be an area Natives rarely visited has become ground zero for gentrification. An L.A Native gives her perspective on the changes.


It is no secret that Downtown Los Angeles has changed rapidly these past few years. In 2007, I was fresh out of college and ready to live life to the fullest. I had a job in a Public Affairs firm in a city high rise. That time that now seems like the “Golden Age” of Downtown, the bars were plenty, the people were friendly. A mix of non-pretentious creatives, and people like me who were looking to “make it.”

Flash forward 8 years and you see a drastically changed Downtown. More and more often it feels like a part of the city that now belongs to trust fund children, and people who would never have moved here 10 years ago. In the middle of this, there was “Bar 107" a dive bar that felt more like your best friend’s house than an enclave in the middle of an area which was rapidly being taken over by developers and opportunists. The air of pretentiousness that now permeates most places in this part of the city failed to seep into Bar 107. If pretentious folks entered Bar 107 they seemed to leave their disdain at the door. Many of us 20 somethings, found comfort in the lack of effort Bar 107 made to fit in with the more uppity bars that surrounded it.

L.A is most definitely where people come to “make it.” For newcomers Bar 107 was a haven, from the vastness of its neighborhoods and the ironic loneliness that exists in a city with millions of people. For locals, it was a place the reminded us of the grittiness of Downtown L.A.

We grew up being told that this part of the city was dangerous and so being there felt a little illicit, and quite exhilarating. There was this magical time, when LA was becoming cooler but it was still a secret, there was still space for people of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds to come together.

This weekend Bar 107 is closing. It seems that Bar 107 was not immune to the gentrification of Downtown Los Angeles. The owner of the property would like to open his own upscale drinkery in the spot where Bar 107 has been residing. I stopped frequenting Bar 107 the year I turned 30. I had a child and my life proceeded to change in a variety of ways. I now frequent restaurants more often than bars but I still liked to drive by and know that it was there for me to visit. With Bar 107 goes the Downtown Los Angeles of my youth. I am no longer living a life where I can tell you all about the newest bar, you will probably no longer find me gallivanting the city at 2am with my lover or friends in tow. Bar 107 will live in my heart, along with my 20's, along with all the people I danced with, drank with and talked to in this golden decade of my life. I always knew change was inevitable what I didn’ t realize, is that it would tug at my heartstrings in such an irrevocable way.

Photo by: Matthew Wiebe