FROG TOWN: Front Porch Living at its Finest........
The Elysian Valley, just outside of Los Angeles, California has long been considered a small, closely knit community. The residents there affectionately refer to it as “Frogtown.” Some say this name comes from an event many years ago when the river’s water level rose up to unbelievably high levels and frogs literally covered the streets. Some say that is just a myth, designed to keep the busy Los Angeles residents from overpopulating their community. If those folks found out how peaceful, friendly and attractive the Frogtown community really was, there may be a mass exodus of people leaving the city and heading for greener pastures.
The community is a little like something you would see in a painting from the fifties. People sit outside on front porches and wave at their neighbors as they walk by. Families go for bike rides together through the streets. Back yards are filled with fruit trees and shrubs adorn the front walkways. People walk through downtown hand-in-hand on a Saturday night without looking over their shoulder, and the occasional resident may actually go to bed at night without locking all their doors, slamming a deadbolt shut and setting their alarm system.
But don’t confuse this with a Norman Rockwell classic. The town may only have a few churches, some small stores, a couple of schools and a gas station, but it is still a part of Los Angeles. This small segment of society is still only a few miles north of the city. There is no soda shop on the corner or old-time pickup trucks with hay in their truck beds. The residents of Frogtown are a proud group of folks who have worked very hard to keep their community on the right track. As a community they have fought to keep their area zoned for “low-density” housing. This prevents Los Angeles developers from coming in and constructing high rise apartments and condominiums. The community also works together to keep their area safe. There is a planned, centrally organized neighborhood watch group on nearly every block throughout Frogtown.
The area that Frogtown encompasses is small in relation to the surrounding cities. The strong sense of community within its borders may stem from its relative seclusion. The city is bordered by the Los Angeles River on one side, and the Golden State freeway on the opposing side. The side that borders the freeway is literally walled off from the rest of civilization by a giant wall that was built by the Department of Transportation, in an effort to muffle the noise from the massive traffic count. With a wall on one side and a natural barrier like a river on the other, that only leaves two ways to enter or exit Frogtown; from the North or the South. With entry to this hidden cove only possible via Riverside Drive or Fletcher Drive, this community doesn’t get many casual visitors. It is actually said within the community that anyone who comes to Frogtown is either there for a very specific purpose…or they’re lost.
The homes in Frogtown have a modern flavor in their features and conveniences. However, their design is individual and distinct. Most neighborhoods are unique and eclectic, as you may pass a home with a distinctly Spanish influence on one block and a uniquely Old-English Colonial design on the next. This trend is refreshing to most residents, who have fought to repel the cookie-cutter over development that plagues neighboring areas.
This is an area that was founded by families of the railroad workers in years past. Homes in the north end are intermingled with small factories and bus yards. There are scattered and various light industries in Frogtown today as well. Many of those, such as electrical, plumbing or air-conditioning contractors, serve the greater Los Angeles area but are stationed in Frogtown to attract workers who want to avoid city life. The south end of Frogtown is still mostly residential, and houses many of the employees who work in town.
This quaint area is secluded and private, but still just a stone’s throw away from the big city. For the best of both worlds, and an air of community spirit that is second to none, it is easy to see why so many residents continue to call Frogtown their home.