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EARTHQUAKE / THE LONG ROAD BACK : 2 Neighborhoods, 2 Destinies--in One L.A.

May 02, 1994

On a lonely stretch of Hollywood Boulevard, a neighborhood is tumbling toward ruin, its swift deterioration sparked by more than 20 seconds of shaking Jan. 17. Virtually overnight, the vibrant street has turned into a ghost town, except for the squatters and drug dealers who have moved into the neighborhood.

Sixteen miles away in Granada Hills, a middle-class block of Balboa Boulevard, so battered by the Northridge quake that residents dubbed it "Ground Zero," has begun a firm if painful rebound. Contractors clutter the block, handing out estimates. Fresh piles of rubble dot yards where workers have begun gutting damaged homes. Every day, residents get word from U.S. officials that low-interest loans are on the way.

If both neighborhoods suffered similar destruction from the earthquake's fury, their destinies pose a striking contrast, so different that Los Angeles' recovery has become a tale of two cities--one a suburb of homeowners energetically rebuilding, the other an urban enclave caught in a swift downward spiral.

Times urban affairs writer Sonia Nazario profiles the neighborhoods on Pages A14 and A15.

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