Tehrangeles, the Undefined
A radio documentary about a neighborhood in Los Angeles connected across Southern California.
Some communities are harder to define than others. When it is not tied to strict borders, how does it stay connected? How is a sense of community fostered? Consider Tehrangeles, which is the Iranian American community in Los Angeles.
During Nowruz, or the Persian new year, thousands of Iranian Americans head to Westwood. They come to Westwood Boulevard and Wilkins Avenue, where beige signs hanging high above the intersection dub it Persian Square. It was home to the city’s first Persian business more than 40 year ago.
Many Iranians came to the United States after the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Refugees made Los Angeles their home. Now it’s considered the largest community of Iranians outside of Iran, with nearly half a million people. But there is no one neighborhood where they lived.
As a Persian, when you arrive in LA, the first or second thing that your friends do is take you to one of the restaurants here, to show that, 'oh ok, this is like home.'
— Pooyan Behnamghader”
Commercial areas like Westwood and Wilkins slowly brought more Iranian-owned businesses to the area. It became one of several Iranian business hubs across the Southland.
The Iranian American community in Los Angeles remains connected despite its expansiveness. Listen to the above story to hear how a bookstore pulled together an entire population. And how a 2,500 year old artifact represents the future of Tehrangeles.
It’s a really powerful thing to walk around and see a critical mass of people who are speaking the language, that in my example, you know I only heard it spoken at home with my parents.
— Neda Maghbouleh”
This place, as Los Angeles, is as close as it gets to Tehran.
— Bijan Delgoshaei”
This portmanteau is a mixture of Tehran, Iran’s capital, and Los Angeles. What does it mean? How do Iranian Americans feel about this term and define it? Hear Iranian Americans around Persian Square share their thoughts on this huge community.
What does Tehrangeles mean to you?