*Event Producer and local historian Cynthia E. Exum has released a new book that chronicles the diverse history of one of Los Angeles’ most iconic areas.
Exum co-authored Images of America: Leimert Park with Maty Guiza-Leimert, wife of Walter H. Leimert III, whose grandfather Walter H. Leimert, Sr. purchased 231 acres in what was then the central part of Los Angeles for $2 million in 1927. Leimert Sr. commissioned the Olmstead Brothers, sons of Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., the master planner of New York City’s Central Park, to design and develop what would become one of the first comprehensively planned communities in Southern California.
Over 200 vintage and current images take readers on a unique journey into Los Angeles history. Many of the photographs in Images of America: Leimert Park are part of the private collection of Walter H. Leimert and have never before been published. “Our hope in sharing our archival photographs and contributing to this book was to provide a historical perspective of Leimert Park’s origins for those that lived it and to document it for future generations,” commented co-author Maty Guiza-Liemert.
Exum views the publication of Images of America: Leimert Park from a national and local perspective. “The story of Leimert Park is the story of communities all over America,” said Exum, who also produces an annual book fair in Leimert Park Village. “Leimert Park started out as a planned community for what was at the time the burgeoning middle-class. Over the span of eight decades lots of things happened, including the internment of many of Leimert Park’s Japanese residents following WWII, restrictive covenants that kept African Americans from purchasing homes, the civil unrests of 1965 and 1992 and the resurgence that Leimert Park is currently experiencing. It’s an American story, but it’s also the story of our community. I’m proud to have been able to work with Maty Guiza-Leimert to document and preserve such an important part of our history.”
Many Leimert Park residents and community leaders came out to celebrate at the official launch of Images of America: Leimert Park. Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, California State Senator Curren D. Price, and Field Deputy Albert Lord, representing Los Angeles City Council President Herb J. Wesson, Jr. attended the book signing party and offered their congratulations. As a reflection of Leimert Parks multiculturalism, the event featured performances by Huitzilopuchtli Aztec Indians, African/African American Drumming/Dance and Japanese American Dance troupe lead by Najite Aqintodan Nippon Minyo Kenkyu Kai. The celebration was topped off with a 1920’s entertainment showcase featuring Sylvia Boyd as Billy Holiday, the dancing sensation ‘Hollywood Hotshots’ from ABC’s Dancing with the Stars and Leimert Park’s First Annual Classic Car Show. Images of America Leimert Park book launch was sponsored by Celerity Educational Group.
Images of America: Leimert Park was published by Arcadia Publishing, the leading publisher of local and regional history in the United States. The book is available through Arcadia Publishing (888) 313-2665 or visit www.arcadiapublishing.com. It is also available at Eso Won Books, Gallery Plus and Zambezi Barzaar in Leimert Park and online booksellers.