Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles is located just west of downtown in MacArthur Park, one of the city’s oldest and most significant parks. Founded in 1886 as Westlake Park, throughout the early 20th century the park was considered L.A.’s premiere urban oasis, attracting wealthy residents from the surrounding communities who came to enjoy the glistening lake and performances at its outdoor band shell.
Starting in the late 20th century, however, MacArthur Park began to experience decline. In the 1980’s the park’s surrounding Westlake neighborhood witnessed an influx of Central American immigrants who sought refuge from the violence in their home countries; however, the neighborhood infrastructure was unable to accommodate this significant increase in population. Westlake became one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the country, with high rates of poverty. By the end of the 20th century, the park had become notorious for prostitution, gang-related violence, drug dealing and other criminal activities. Local residents stayed away, and MacArthur Park’s once vibrant band shell stood closed, covered in graffiti and surrounded by a chain-link fence.
Positive changes began to occur in the early 2000s with a grassroots effort to revitalize MacArthur Park. Community leaders and groups partnered with the Los Angeles Police Department to create a safer environment for local residents. Their efforts paved the way for the introduction of consistent and family-friendly programming in the park. Individuals associated with the Levitt Pavilion in Pasadena worked with Westlake leaders, stakeholders and community organizations in creating a partnership with the City of Los Angeles and the Levitt Foundation to renovate the existing band shell and program free concerts.
With the 2007 launch of Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles, families began returning to the park. This served as a catalyst for the park’s transformation and brought momentum to the City’s redevelopment efforts, inspiring the City to make subsequent investments in the park, including the development of new soccer fields, a playground, public restrooms, lighted walkways and other park amenities.
Since 2007, over 500,000 families, friends and neighbors have gathered in MacArthur Park to enjoy the free concerts, cultural celebrations and family-friendly atmosphere offered at the Levitt Pavilion. The Levitt concerts feature acclaimed artists from a broad range of music genres. Past performers include Bomba Estereo, Johnnyswim, Rocky Dawuni, Keali’i Reichel, The Dustbowl Revival, and GRAMMY-winning artists like Los Lobos, Karla Bonoff, Jimmy Webb and Quetzal.