The Origins of Boyle Heights

Isaac Vallenilla
 | June 8, 2022

Credit: Nuestro Stories

Today, Boyle Heights  is a primarily Latino neighborhood and it was a multicultural cradle that attracted thousands of immigrants in the 20th century.

In the 1930s, Boyle Heights was the place with the highest concentration of Jews in Los Angeles, and Brooklyn Avenue was where most of them were concentrated. However, the Jews were not alone – thousands of Mexicans, Japanese, Armenians, Italians, Russians, and African-Americans accompanied them. Due to this,  this neighborhood became one of the most culturally vibrant in Los Angeles.

Read more: Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino Says ‘Presente!’ with First Exhibition

For a long time, the Jewish community, who concentrated in Boyle Heights, formed a bond with the Latino community (one that remains strong.) In one way or another, they were empowered by each other. Because both shared one another’s ideals, they became a strong unit, ultimately, electing Edward R. Roybal to be the councilman in 1949.

The Origins of Boyle Heights Lie in a Delicatessen

The Canter brothers, which included Ben Canter, and his two brothers, opened their first deli in 1924 in New Jersey. However,  just 5 years later, they sold it as a result of the stock market crash; they moved to Los Angeles to open the Canter Brothers Delicatessen in Boyle Heights in 1931.

Originally, it was located at 2323 Brooklyn Avenue – the avenue is now known as Cesar Chavez Avenue.  

Canter was renowned for serving traditional deli items such as pickled herring, matzoh ball soup, and corned beef sandwiches.

In 1941, Canter’s deli decided to open a new location on Fairfax Avenue. For a few years, they kept both locations. They closed their deli at Boyle Heights in 1948.

In 1953, they moved the deli to a new building in the Fairfax District, which was once occupied by the Esquire Theatre. The mid-’50s decoration is still intact, making it more attractive for tourists.

The former Boyle Heights location is occupied by a dentist office and a small Mexican restaurant.

Fun Facts:

  • Artists such as The Wall Flowers and Fiona Apple have debuted at the Kibitz Room at Canters in the Fairfax District.
  • In 2014, President Barack Obama made an unexpected appearance at Canter Brothers Delicatessen in Fairfax.
  • Several series and movies used Canter Brothers Delicatessen as a location, including Mad Men and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

If You Go:

  • You’re a 12-minute walk away from the Holocaust Museum LA.
  • The Pan Pacific Park is about the same distance from the Canter Brothers Deli.
  • The park has a three-quarter mile path, grassy baseball and soccer fields, as well as a pool (a fee may be applied to take a dip.

Location: Los Angeles, California

Address: 2323 Chavez Avenue (original Canter Brothers Delicatessen in Boyles Heights)

Google View 360: Take a stroll through Boyle Heights here.×300.png

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