Los Angeles

A street photography project by Kwasi Boyd-Bouldin

Toy(District) Story

This is a preview for the latest addition to my portfolio, a photography series documenting the Toy District in Downtown Los Angeles. The complete photo essay can be found here: Toy District Story.

The Toy District is an area of Downtown Los Angeles full of wholesale distributors and street vendors. It’s located between the gentrified Historic Core and Skid Row. On any given day the sidewalks are packed with people, making it one the city’s best areas for photography.

My personal connection to the area it what inspired me to start documenting it. As a kid, I was really into giant robots and Japanese animation. In the early ’80s cartoons like Robotech were just starting to air but merchandise was both scarce and expensive. Luckily, my mother realized stores sold the imported versions of these toys directly in the Toy District. So visiting the area as a child was like walking through one giant toy store, filled with robots from shows I had never heard of like Macross and Orguss. These experiences solidified my interest in the neighborhood so when I became a photographer I was eager to revisit it.

Like most of Los Angeles, the area has changed significantly since my childhood. What has remained the same is the energy that radiates throughout this part of the city. I photographed the Toy District over the course of the past few years to produce this set of images. It’s an authentic part of Los Angeles that many people rarely visit and one of the most interesting neighborhoods in the city.