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The neighborhood of Florence-Graham, which locals also call Florence-Firestone, is named after the main streets that pass through it. Because it is not an incorporated city, it needs no official name. It is a predominantly-residential region, home of a little over sixty-three thousand people, and surrounded by some better-known cities and communities. To the north, beyond its northern boundary defined by Slauson Avenue, are Historic South-Central Los Angeles, Vernon and South Park. Its jagged eastern boundary is shared by Alameda Street, Santa Fe Avenue, and Florence Avenue, Wilson Avenue, East 69th Street, and Wilmington Avenue. On the other side of that border are Huntington Park, Walnut Park, and South Gate. The southern end of Florence-Firestone is notched in the center and is defined approximately by Success Avenue, East 92nd Street, and Croesus Avenue. The neighborhoods to the south are Watts (home of the famous Watts Towers Arts Center, Hacienda Village, Nickerson Gardens and Imperial Courts. Florence-Firestone’s western border follows Central Avenue, across from which is the area known generally as South Los Angeles.
In the early nineteen-hundreds, Florence-Firestone was the home to a factory operated by one of the world’s largest tire manufacturers, known widely across the country by its ubiquitous blimps, which were also manufactured in that plant. At its peak it employed around two thousand five hundred workers and operated around the clock. The size of the factory, and the frequency of fire breakouts at the factory, required the company to install its own fire department within its confines. Not far from this factory was another tire factory, this one run by a competing global company that shares a common name with one of the streets on which it is located. It was the manufacturing sector that led to the high level of density of residents in the area. So when both tire manufacturing plants closed, hundreds of jobs evaporated, though the tire and blimp manufacturer was taken over and used as a sorting facility for the United States Postal Service. Now there are several small shops and other industrial locations all along eastern boundary of the area, but they have not adequately replaced the jobs lost due to the tire plant closures. It was over this period of plant closures and job losses that the racial and ethnic makeup changed from a rather diverse patchwork of peoples to a community that is more than eighty-six percent Latino & Hispanic, largely due to the influx of immigrants. The area is also ranked high in the city of Los Angeles in terms of gang activity.
Residents of Florence-Graham have as a group struggled to succeed, due to the difficult circumstances in which they live, and to the fact that the area has undergone the same transformation that has had a major detrimental impact on the bulk of the neighborhoods that surround it as a result of the retreat of large-scale industry, coupled with the lack of opportunities to be trained to take on jobs in the newer high-tech economy that has been the source of a great deal of economic growth in other parts of the city. This struggle has a compounding effect on employees who, feeling that they cannot leave a job that violates their workers’ rights because it is difficult to find another one, continue to allow their employers to fail to pay the mandatory overtime pay or to provide the required meal and rest breaks out of fear of being terminated if they attempt to assert their rights. Employees who are working under such circumstances can contact our office for a free, confidential consultation.