Walk This Way / Caminale

Under a grant that Los Angeles Walks received from IOBY, we led a workshop with students in NHF’s Health Academy at Jefferson High School to design pedestrian wayfinding signs for Central Avenue in South Central LA. These signs highlight and celebrate neighborhood assets (such as parks, historic buildings, schools, and businesses) and encourage residents to walk or bike farther than they normally would—by giving walking and biking times between destinations.

The stretch of Central Ave where the signs were placed is an area where many residents do not own cars and depend on walking, biking, and transit to get around. The students in particular walk or bike to destinations outside of their neighborhood. They wanted other community members to know that adjacent neighborhoods such as Downtown, Little Tokyo, and Huntington Park are accessible on foot and that it does not take that long to walk there. They also wanted the community to know about important neighborhood destinations off the major street.

We worked with the youth to lead a community asset mapping process: a walk and mapping workshop to identify locations for signs and local destinations. They then surveyed other students, community members, and business owners to identify other important destinations in the neighborhood. From older residents, they learned about the rich history of the neighborhood, which was an epicenter of jazz music in the 30s and 40s.

The students developed a series of visual symbols to represent the neighborhood—iconic buildings, jazz instruments, food, and more. And they developed icons to identify types of destinations such as schools, stores, and parks. They also met with their City Council office, Neighborhood Council, and LADOT officials to get support for the project and to identify infrastructure where the signs could be placed.

We worked with the students to finalize the design and production of the signs, and they installed them themselves along Central Avenue and led a walk with partners where they explained the process and how they identified the destinations on the signs.