Ah, the hills of Westwood. How I hated them so much for so long. But looking back, I have them to thank for not getting the Freshman 15.
In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a Bruin. Westwood will always hold a special place in my heart because it’s my old stomping grounds. The setting for so many memories, good and bad. My first taste at city life, and my anchor for getting to know LA. Westwood was where I learned how to love LA, so it’ll always hold a special place in my heart.
Westwood Village is a special part of LA. In a way, it does feel like a village. A storied mini downtown anchored below the campus of UCLA. It’s charming in a way LA usually isn’t (except maybe Larchmont). Maybe it’s the always-on holiday string lights lining the trees along the streets. Maybe it’s the actual pedestrian area, sheltered from the many lanes of traffic on Wilshire. Maybe it’s the nostalgic architecture, persisting through the decades even though the businesses seem to come and go with each class of Bruins. It probably isn’t the plethora of confusing intersections and precarious street parking (though those do inspire a healthy dose of nostalgia).
The heart of Westwood is at the intersection of Broxton and Weyburn. The marquees of the Regency Village Theater and Bruin Theater always playing the latest blockbusters, feel like remnants of Hollywood’s Golden Age still persisting and thriving today. This street is probably closed about as often as it is open. Nothing like trekking back to the dorms after a day of studying, only to get stuck in movie-premiere traffic. Of course the inter-generational Bruin experience can’t be complete without Diddy Riese and Stan’s Donuts. Perhaps as iconic as the theaters themselves are the twin hookah lounges and the legends they inspire.
Every pocket of this very small, very walkable (one of the only places in LA where it’s socially acceptable to be caught walking more than a couple blocks, btw), neighborhood feels a little different. Just around the corner from the theaters is the extra pedestrian part of Broxton Ave that’s home to the farmer’s market on Thursdays. Gayley feels a little more car-friendly, and is home to some of the newer spots. Then there’s Glendon, spanning from the commercial heart of Westwood (aka City Target + Trader Joes) down to the quiet, upscale block home to Espresso Profeta before you get to Hammer Museum (not a museum about hammers). And that’s before we even address “south of Wilshire,” which to car-less UCLA students might as well be in the suburbs. But there’s a different kind of old-LA charm along Westwood Blvd that’s home to Little Tehran.
There’s no place like Westwood, full of poor public school students, Asian American students, Asian international students, academics, rich people from neighboring Bel Air and Brentwood, and Persians. There’s nothing I love more than celebrity sight-seeing buses drive through Westwood during finals week.