Experts have told us that social interaction is the greatest predictor of health. Add, physical activity and access to green and you have the “health trifecta” according to an architect we know who studies the impact of the built environment on health and well-being. The 1000/1100 block of Dunsmuir Avenue in the Miracle Mile is proof of that concept. The block of 40 modest houses with front porches, small yards, and wide sidewalks is home to nine residents over the age of 90 plus a handful of spry octogenarians.
When the neighborhood celebrated the 100th birthday of longtime resident Henrine Quinn Lee in 2004, neighbor Tony Cowan noted Ms. Lee could be seen on her front porch watching the world go by. Lee passed away in 2011 at the age of 107.
Cowan, age 93, and just two weeks younger than his wife Muriel, decided to throw her a surprise birthday party for her 93rd birthday on New Year’s Day. It was also the 100th birthday of the neighborhood. Nearby residents Karen and Allan Chapman offered to host the party and invited many neighbors including all the nonagenarians.
Longtime resident (18 years) James Tobey organized the celebration. He decided an afternoon tea would be most appropriate since Muriel emigrated from London in the 1960s to the U.S. where she later met Tony. During the party, Tobey took photos of guests, printed them out, and placed them into an album asking guests could write a message to Muriel and Tony. Here are some of the pages from the album.
Tobey also arranged for us to meet the Cowans, their neighbors Allan Taylor and Harry Singman. We had a delightful interview listening to stories about how they each found their way to Dunsmuir Avenue more than 60 years ago. While they all had different paths and different professions, each of them spent years being an active part of the neighborhood hosting block parties, serving as block captains, writing newsletters, participating in the neighborhood association leadership, and generally doing all that it takes to keep neighbors informed and interested.
Our thanks to Kari Garcia, Miracle Mile Residential Association VP, Neighborhood Watch Chair, and Buzz reader for telling us about this wonderful “Blue Zone Block” of Los Angeles!