Leimert Park, built in the 1920's & 30's, is one of several LA neighborhoods known as models of modern urban planning. It was designed by the Olmsted brothers, whose father is known for designing Central Park in New York. It is known for its design innovations, like making sure that automobile traffic near schools and churches was minimized, utility wires were buried or hidden from view in alleys, and of course densely planted trees lined its streets. Walter Leimert, its developer, envisioned a self-sufficient community, with a town square, theatre and retail shopping. Leimert Park became a desirable community and one of the first to have a Home Owners' Association.
In the mid-20th century, Leimert Park became home to a bustling jazz scene, and was home to Ray Charles and Ella Fitzgerald among others. Today it is filled with blues and jazz clubs; as well as venues for hip hop and numerous dramatic performances and poetry readings. (One resident, filmmaker John Singleton, has called it "the black Greenwich Village.") The park at the district's center, adjoined by shops and a theater, is a popular place for performances and gatherings.
Nearby is the Vernon Square Park, home to the Vermont Square Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. It was built in 1913 with monies donated by the Carnegie Foundation of New York City. This library was the first of six Carnegie buildings to be built out of this grant. It is also the only city library building that didn't cost Los Angeles any money to build. In addition to the money provided by the Carnegie Foundation to build and initially equip Vermont Square Branch, it was built on park land donated to the city by the developers of the residential area surrounding it.