It is often said that to make wise decisions about the future, it is important to understand your past – your history.
As we embark upon writing the West Los Angeles Community Plan, therefore it may be helpful to look back to the origins of the communities that now make up this western region of the City of Los Angeles and to identify the major influences that have made our “hood” what it is today.
We needn’t go back terribly far in our time machine because Los Angeles, herself, is a relatively young city….. a city often described as being a city on the move. And, due to LA’s proximity to the San Andreas Fault, we have indeed been on the move – some 350 miles northwest of where we started some 30 million years ago thanks to the movements of our famous fault.
It was Spanish explorer Cabrillo who first sighted Los Angeles in 1542. He found the first inhabitants of Los Angeles here, the Gabrieleno Indians. Their culture is estimated to have taken shape between AD 500 and 1000 and was said to have been at its peak just before the arrival of Spanish colonists with an estimated 5000 Gabrielino in the region. It was their practice of lighting campfires (which resulted in a smoky haze across the basin) that caused Cabrillo to call LA Bahia de los Fumos (Bay of Smokes). After arriving, Spanish explorers set about establishing fortified missions throughout California to defend the territory.
In September 1781, the Spanish recruited 44 settlers from Sonora in northern Mexico to be the recipients of house lot and farm acreages. This was the beginning of efforts to settle the area. Four years earlier, in 1777, the site was named Town of our Lady the Queen of Angels of Porciuncula – El Pueblo Nuetra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula.
In 1784, New Spain’s governor of California began rewarding retiring soldiers with vast tracts of ranch land around the pueblo of Los Angeles: Rancho La Brea, Rancho Boca de Santa Monica, Rancho La Cienega o Paso de la Tjera. Southern California was divided into three distinct parts: pueblo, rancho, mission. By 1810 the population of Los Angeles was 365 – with the majority living on the ranchos.
In 1822, after Mexico gained independence from Spain (in 1821), California became a Mexican province with Los Angeles becoming the capital of California in 1835. The region had its own gold rush when gold was discovered in 1842 in Placerita Canyon north of Los Angeles.
In 1847, Mexico lost California in war with the United States and in 1850, California joined the Union. The City of Los Angeles was incorporated on April 4, 1850 and at that time had a population of 1,610. Ten years later the population had grown to 4,385 (while San Francisco had 56,800 people). In 1876 Los Angeles was connected by rail with the rest of the U.S. In 1880 Los Angeles had 11,183 people. In 1892 E.L. Doheny drilled a hole in the ground and struck oil. H. Gaylord Wilshire filed a subdivision plat on Dec. 21, 1895 called the Wilshire Tract (from Parview to Benton Way) with a 120-foot-wide street running east to west down the center named “Wilshire Boulevard.”
At the turn of the century LA’s population had reached 102,479.
The ranchos of the 1800’s that later become well known were San Vicente y Santa Monica, San Jose de Buenos Aires (now Westwood Village/ Hills and UCLA), Rodeo de las Aguas (now Beverly Hills).
The engineering of the LA aqueduct to bring water to Los Angeles began in 1907 and in the same year, the final half of The Count of Monte Cristo was filmed on the beach in Santa Monica – California’s first movie. Sunkist growers’ cooperative began promoting the sale of California oranges to a Midwestern market in 1908, the world’s first airline began service from San Pedro to Catalina Island in 1918, and in 1920 Donald Douglas opened his first aircraft factory.
Westwood’s early history date back to 1769, when explorer Gasper de Portola camped out with his group at a site near the present-day UCLA campus. Don Maximo Alanis, a soldier in the Spanish Army and early Los Angeles settler, became the first property owner in 1820. Alanis raised horses and cattle on 4,438 acres he called Rancho San Jose de Buenos Aires. In 1884, Alanis’ Rancho was passed along to several owners, including John Wolfskill, who in 1919 sold it to Arthur Letts, founder of the Broadway and Bullock’s department stores. Letts willed the ranch to his daughter who subsequently married into the Janss family.
The Westwood subdivision began in April of 1922 after the Janss Brothers (Janss Investment Corporation) learned that Westwood/Los Angeles had been selected as the location to which UCLA (The Campus of the University of California At Los Angeles –originally the Los Angeles State Normal School) would be moving from the original Vermont Ave. location. In 1929 the campus was moved to the Westwood Hills site, which was purchased and presented to the University by the cities of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Venice.
Janss Investment Corp sold their first lots in the Pico/Sepulveda area and the first homes were built in 1923. Their original homes sold in the $2,300 price range and were designed predominantly as Spanish style homes. The tracts gradually moved east and north and reached the Village area in the late 1920’s.
In 1924 the City of Los Angeles announced a Major Traffic Street Plan. 10th Street was predicted to be “…one of the greatest central thoroughfares of Los Angeles…” The transformation of 10th Street from a Downtown route and a 40-foot-wide residential street to the west to a 100 foot right of way bridging major gaps along the way, was finally accomplished by 1938. To commemorate LA’s hosting of the 1932 Olympics (the 10th Olympics), 10th Street was renamed Olympic Blvd.
The neighborhood changed dramatically after Olympic Blvd. was carved through Westwood splitting the neighborhood into two sections. It is said that residents south of Olympic Blvd, feeling cut off from Westwood Hills, “clamored for their own identify by the late ‘30’s.” A longtime resident, Bob Hindall, recounted “We thought it was time to have our own community and separate ourselves from Westwood.” Pioneer real estate broker Bill Heyler is credited with naming the area Rancho Park. Rancho Park is roughly situated between Pico and Olympic Boulevards and ending at Fox Studios to the east. The western border is considered to be Sepulveda Blvd.
A sense of community can be seen in the many longtime Rancho Park/ Pico Blvd. merchants who have served and continue to serve the community. John O’Groat’s restaurant has lines out the door on weekend mornings and offers menu items from the beloved and defunct “Little Bit of Scotland” restaurant on Westwood. Anawalt Lumber, still owned by members of the founding family, has been in business since 1924. Rancho Pharmacy, which opened in 1929 hosts a local post office substation in the back. The Heyler Company now at the corner of Parnell and Pico was founded in 1927. Third generation operator of the Apple Pan, recently sold the restaurant to a long-time customer who promises to continue its operation just the way it is and has been since 1948. California’s first drive-in movie theater opened at the corner of Pico and Westwood Blvds. in 1935, moved to Bundy and Olympic in the 1940’s (the Olympic Drive-In) and was replaced by the Pickwood Theater and Bowling Area which remained until replaced by the Westside Pavilion. F & S Fabrics opened their West LA location on Pico in 1954 and Billingsley’s just west of the 405 has been in operation since 1946.
Anawalt Lumber, Pico and Sepulveda 1934
Another key arterial running through the community is Sepulveda Blvd, the city and county’s longest thoroughfare—stretching over 40 miles and named after Francisco Sepulveda who was one of the founding residents of the Pueblo de Los Angeles in 1781. Sepulveda became a successful cattle rancher who in 1839 was granted what is now Santa Monica by the king of Spain. His 30,260 acre spread, Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica extended from present-day Sepulveda Blvd. to the ocean. The Sepulveda corridor was traveled on horseback by de Portola in 1769 following Native American hunting trails. Four lane Sepulveda Blvd. opened in 1935 and was an invaluable route for those traveling north and south. In 1960 work began on the 405 Freeway through the pass – connecting the San Fernando Valley with the Westside and points south. Sepulveda is a designated freeway alternate route and one of the few through north/south running streets that can carry traffic to and from the Westside. Despite a fairly recent major widening project on the 405 freeway and the introduction of car pool lanes there, the need to establish a public transit link through the Sepulveda Pass has long been recognized. METRO is currently studying various modes and routes now.
National Boulevard & Military Avenue
National Boulevard was laid out in 1889 – a county road connecting Los Angeles and Santa Monica through the village of The Palms, which was platted in 1886. As part of the project, a “branch driveway” – Military Avenue – was plotted to the Soldier’s Home; it straddled two erstwhile ranchos, Rancho San Jose de Buenos Ayres, and Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica.
The Los Angeles Times raved, “[s]uch a view as exists along the route is not to be met with in many parts of the world” and “no spacious highway of Romagna or Europe can excel it in natural beauty.”
The road benefited landholders by better connecting them to Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Sentous Brothers gave 99,000 feet of right of way next to their slaughterhouse. Manual Higuera moved his house. “Mr. Durkee, who owns the old Gird dairy, now called the Bonita Meadows, gave $1000.” However, they had to fight John Wolfskill, owner of the Buenos Ayres ranch since 1884, for right of way. The County offered $800 for three acres; Wolfskill wanted $2000, so the County sought to condemn it. (Los Angeles Times, April 23, 1889).
Located on National Blvd. is the Westside’s Moreton Bay Fig Tree, a Los Angeles City Historic Cultural Monument (#18). Declared in 1963 and located at 11000 National Boulevard (at Military), the tree was planted in 1875 and is described as: the greatest of the Australian avenue trees.”
In the 1950’s, the Janss Development Company sold their Westwood property to Arnold Kirkeby, who was responsible for redevelopment of the Village which boomed as one of the City’s most successful commercial centers into the mid 1980’s.
The Janss legacy is deeply engraved throughout the community even today – in its sidewalks where one can see the company’s stamp, on campus in stately Janss Steps, in the Village where their company’s building stands as a landmark at the center of the Village, and in each of the homes that they built. Patricia Avenue, just west of Beverly Glen Blvd. is named after one of the Janss’ daughters and borders the western border of Rancho Park Golf Course.
Cheviot Hills (Source: https://www.cheviothillshistory.org/california-country-club-estates)
To the southeast of Rancho Park lies Cheviot Hills. Cheviot Hills is an amalgam of housing tracts big and small, named and unnamed, situated in hills formerly called the “Palms Hills,” for the earliest (1886) community in the area, “The Palms” (later, simply “Palms”). It covers parts of the Spanish and Mexican land grants, Rancho Rincón de Los Bueyes and Rancho La Ballona.
The hilltop portion of Castle Heights (1922) has been called part of both Cheviot Hills and Monte-Mar Vista. The most magnificent home in the neighborhood was in the Castle Heights section, where Harry H. Culver had a mansion on 3 acres with stables, tennis courts, and a pool across from the California Country Club he founded and overlooking his domain: Culver City. If Castle Heights initially included the biggest lots, building restrictions in Monte-Mar Vista (1924) made it the most exclusive: requiring home construction to cost at least $12,000. That led to several large houses by well-known architects, spread across combined lots. But when the Great Depression left many lots unsold in Monte-Mar Vista, the minimum was lowered, making its later housing stock indistinguishable from neighboring Cheviot Hills (1924) and Country Club Highlands (1923). To some extent, these first tracts retained their separate identities until at least the mid-1930s.
Tract 10440 (1929) apparently never had its own identity, maybe because 29 of its 49 lots were resubdivided into a 4½ acre lot (Tract 9976) to make way for Overland Avenue Elementary School. The homes did not blend in well enough to be included when the Cheviot Hills Homeowners’ Association formed in 1963 “to cope with problems created by the high rise urban development of nearby Century City” (i.e., traffic).
In 1938, the Dominguez family’s fortune and Walter Leimert’s development skill brought Cheviot Knolls to the area, Tract 11566.
California Country Club Estates covers the grounds of the former California Country Club. Culver City founder Harry Culver started the club. It’s “18-hole golf course opened in 1917 with Jack Stone and Hutt Martin as professionals.” (Golf Historical Society, “California Country Club, Culver City, California.”)
In 1917, a Culver City-based social group decided to establish their country club and golf course in the hills of Palms (Los Angeles), overlooking Culver City from the north, on what had been the John D. Hawes Ranch. Initially called the “Culver Country Club” and the “Culver City Country Club,” it would cover over 100 acres of Francisco Higuera‘s allotment of Rancho Rincón de los Bueyes.
On April 29, 1917, the Los Angeles Times reported that the “Culver City Country Club, an organization perfected during the past week, has leased 105 acres of land in the rolling hills just north of Culver City and plans to at once build a clubhouse and lay out a golf course.” “The club has obtained a twenty-year lease of the property secured …. Plans for the clubhouse, which will stand upon a high knoll commanding a sweeping vista of the city, the valley and the ocean, are now being drawn by A. S. Heineman.”
The club’s founders were well-known at the time – though Harry Culver is the only one whose name is usually attached with the club. That is understandable, since his name is attached to a nearby city.
On June 22, 1917, the aforementioned Los Angeles Trust & Savings Bank filed a “notice of non-responsibility for any improvement on the John D. Hawes Ranch, sometimes known as the Culver City Country Club.” Thus, work could go forward on the new club without any construction liens against the bank. (Southwest Builder and Contractor, June 30, 1917, p. 33.)
California Country Club Estates covers the grounds of the former California Country Club. Culver City founder Harry Culver started the club. It’s “18-hole golf course opened in 1917 with Jack Stone and Hutt Martin as professionals.” (Golf Historical Society, “California Country Club, Culver City, California.”)
The club would change hands at least a few times, and it changed names, too: Cheviot Hills Country Club (1941-1943); Rolling Hills Country Club (1944-1945); and California Country Club (1945-1951). It hosted business leaders, star entertainers, and the world’s best golfers.
In 1950, the club’s owners – actor/director Frank Borzage, actor/singer Fred MacMurray, Hollywood manager Bö Roos, and actor/filmmaker John Wayne – sold to hotelier Sanford D. “Sandy” Adler, who developed the California Country Club Estates neighborhood in its place. The California Country Club formally opened on March 12, 1921. Shortly after the opening dinner dance, was rumored the club would be sold for oil development. The May 7, 1921, LA Times reported:
An oil boom has struck Culver City, threatening to wipe the California Country Club out of existence in its present locality. According to a rumor which persisted in our local golf circles yesterday the club is said to have been offered the lumpy sum of $350,000 and 12 percent in royalties for permission to drill oil wells on the property. The links of the club are declared to be resting atop a huge bed of oil, ready to spout forth streams of dollar-making fluid.
Detail of the Beverly Hills Oil Field, showing its position relative to Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, and also showing the locations of the four active drilling islands. A fifth, inactive drilling island west of Beverly Hills High School is not shown.
By Antandrus at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15717673
Vestiges of the former oil boom can be seen in the community today. Hidden away in the heart of Rancho Park is an oil facility still in use. On the remaining open lot in Century City (entitled by JMB for either a residential or office project) is a capped oil well. Not far from there was a well on the grounds of Beverly Hills High School that recently ceased production.
Ambassador Addition – Cheviot Hills area added to City of Los Angeles
The transition from agricultural to residential use of today’s Cheviot Hills area happened around the time the City of Los Angeles annexing much of the former Rancho Rincón de los Bueyes through the May 16, 1923, “Ambassador Addition.” On October 10, 1922, the City Council rejected the first annexation petition (along with Laurel Canyon’s) because “the petitions did not include the districts’ sharing in the carrying charges of the recently approved $12,000,000 sewer bond issue.” On March 20, 1923, electors in the new territory chose to join Los Angeles, and the City Council annexed it the next day.
1939 WPA MAP which shows the extent of development at the time. Note the train tracks at the bottom (purple) that were later decommissioned and whose route eventually became the route of today’s EXPOSITION Light Rail Line. The large open area in the lower center area of the map is/was the California Country Club/California Country Club Estates area now part of Cheviot Hills.
The Cheviot Hills Garden Club History reported that, in 1940-1941, “Plans were under way to organize the Cheviot Hills Country Club to take over the California Country Club which had gone under financially.” The September 28, 1941, Los Angeles Times reported that the name had changed (from California to Cheviot Hills) but there were still problems:
A group is attempting to bring in sufficient new members to keep the club, known for many years as the California Country Club, going on a sound basis. Hurst’s resignation, as wells as that of the entire board of directors, becomes effective Oct. 1.
The United States entered World War II just over a month later, so the membership drive could not have gone well. Plus Hurst, “an early member, past president and an honorary life member of the California Country Club,” would die a couple of years later. He “was stricken at a Mexico City golf club where he had played the previous day.” (LA Times, Nov. 14, 1943.) Edward R. Hurst (1880-1943) was a local realtor – the primary seller of the Cheviot Hills and Cheviot Knolls tracts. “He became associated [in 1929] with Harold G. Neff, with whom he developed the Cheviot Hills residential section, of which he was an early resident.” He left a widow, Nora, at 10327 Cheviot Drive. (Ibid.)
In June 1943, the public Cheviot Hills Country Club “folded” due to “financial difficulties.” (LA Times, Feb. 6, 1944.) In February 6, 1944, the Los Angeles Times covered the club’s reopening as the Rolling Hills Country Club. The club hosted frequent community events. The course remained open into 1951.
The October 28, 1950, Los Angeles Times, predicted the club’s sale to Sanford Adler for subdivision. The October 31, 1950, Los Angeles Times, reported the sale and revived the idea that a hotel would be built:
Sale of the California Country Club for approximately $1,000,000 was announced yesterday. The club, a 107-acre property at 2929 Club Drive between the MGM and 20th Century-Fox studios, is one of the oldest golf courses in Southern California.
It was bought by Sanford Adler and Associates, owners of the Del Mar Hotel and other holdings. The Beverly Management Corp., represented the sellers, Frank Borzage, John Wayne, Bo Roos and Fred MacMurray. The announcement said the present clubhouse will be rebuilt into a resort hotel, retaining the golf course and its fixtures, after present war restriction on amusement building is lifted.
The Los Angeles Historic Resources (SurveyLA), in its section on the “California Country Club Planning District,” calls the California Country Club Planning District a “good example of a residential subdivision from the mid- 20th century”:
The topography ranges widely from generally flat to mildly hilly, and many of the front yards slope down toward the street. One- to three-foot retaining walls clad with stone or brick are common. The street pattern is a mixture of curvilinear and orthogonal forms that create irregularly shaped blocks and impart a quiet residential character to the area. Consisting of approximately 138 acres, the approximately 475 district parcels range from rectangular to irregular in shape and are generally somewhat larger than those in the surrounding tracts. Traditional custom Ranch-style houses are typical of the neighborhood, many with wood board-and-batten siding, exposed rafter tails, brackets, and dovecotes. However, many individual residences have been altered with an additional story and non-original stone or stucco cladding. The wide streets, large lots, sidewalks, and setbacks give the neighborhood an open, spacious feel. Attached garages and driveways dominate the front elevations throughout the district. Original features of the tract include streetlights with cast iron posts and mass plantings of mature street trees, such as ficus and palms, which line various streets. The period of significance is 1952 to 1955.
Survey LA explains the area’s architectural significance:
The California Country Club Planning District is a good example of the work of a merchant builder of mid-century era residential properties in West Los Angeles. It is associated with Los Angeles merchant builder Sanford D. Adler. Adler was active in Florida and also developed a small tract called Northridge Living Conditioned Homes in the San Fernando Valley designed by modernist architectural firm Palmer & Krisel. His organization owned the Del Mar Hotel as well as other holdings. In 1951, Adler subdivided an approximately 100-acre portion of the California Country Club golf course, which had been developed by Harry Culver. The new California Country Club Estates consisted of 410 Ranch-style single-family residences, which were initially sold from 1952 to 1955. Around the same time, the California Country Club Homes Association (still in operation today) was created. Appealing to individuals with middle class incomes who worked in the entertainment industry, the California Country Club Estates development – then valued at $15,000,000 – was sold out by 1955.
Ads by the Hillcrest Construction Co. for the tract depicted a Ranch-style house with a low-pitched roof, decorative shutters, and a garage projecting toward the front of the property. The typically 2,000-square-foot houses priced at $29,250 featured “Hillcrest’s famous warm modern construction.”
Many of the houses have been enlarged with the addition of a second story, and the original wood and brick cladding has sometimes been replaced by stone, stucco, or clapboard. These alterations impact the overall integrity of the neighborhood, and therefore it does not appear to be eligible for listing as a historic district. However, many of the houses retain the original wood board-and-batten siding, exposed rafter beams, porch brackets, diamond-pane windows, and dovecotes. The spacious feel of the 1950s-era development oriented toward the automobile with its wide streets and prominent garages and driveways is retained. Moreover, original features of the tract such as streetlights with cast iron posts and mature street trees remain. Therefore, the district may warrant special consideration in the local planning process.
Cheviot: Hillcrest View Estates
Sanford Adler followed the success of his California Country Club Estates development with the 68-lot (immodestly named) “Sanford Adler’s Hillcrest View Estates” (Tract 19015, filed October 22, 1953). This tract is a re-subdivision of the José de Arnaz ranch on Rancho Rincón de los Bueyes.
The Los Angeles Times often ran articles on the development on the same day as it carried advertisements promoting it in “Cheviot Hills,” in the “Cheviot Hills area,” and “adjacent to Hillcrest Country Club.” The articles said that all 410 homes in California Country Club Estates had already been sold.
As golf course properties were converted to housing, a community grew up and around the hills that now comprise Cheviot Hills and dipped into Rancho Park. The City of Los Angeles developed the Cheviot Hills Recreation Center which is the regional park for the area and lies between Fox studios and Century City and Rancho Park and Cheviot Hills. The Hillcrest Country Club lies east of the Cheviot Recreation Center and also features a club house and golf course. The Hillcrest Country Club, was founded in 1920 by leaders of the Jewish community in response to the fact that Jews were not permitted to join the other country clubs in the City.
Author Frank Rose described the prestige of Hillcrest as follows:
|“||…Hillcrest Country Club was as close to invisible as 142 acres (0.57 km2) on the south side of Beverly Hills could be. No sign, just a number on the stone entrance gates: 10000 Pico Boulevard…Ever since the Depression, this had been the preserve of Hollywood’s elite. All the great moguls had belonged to Hillcrest—Louis B. Mayer and the Warner brothers and Harry Cohn of Columbia and Adolph Zukor of Paramount.[|
Along Pico Boulevard today a sense of community can be seen and felt in the many longtime merchants who have served and continue to serve the community. John O’Groat’s restaurant has lines out the door on weekend mornings and offers menu items including those from the beloved and defunct “Little Bit of Scotland” restaurant on Westwood. Anawalt Lumber, still owned by members of the founding family, has been in business since 1924. Rancho Pharmacy, which opened in 1929 hosts a local post office substation in the back. The Heyler Company now at the corner of Parnell and Pico was founded in 1927. California’s first drive-in movie theater opened at the corner of Pico and Westwood Blvds. in 1935, moved to Bundy and Olympic in the 1940’s (the Olympic Drive-In) and was replaced by the Pickwood Theater and Bowling Area which remained until replaced by the Westside Pavilion. F & S Fabrics opened their West LA location on Pico in 1954 and Billingsley’s just west of the 405 has been in operation since 1946. The third-generation operator of the Apple Pan, recently sold the restaurant to a long-time customer who promises to continue its operation just the way it is and has been since 1948. (The Apple Pan family, however, will retain ownership of the property.)
According to Wikipedia, the land of Century City belonged to cowboy actor Tom Mix (1880-1940), who used it as a ranch. It later became a backlot of 20th Century Fox, which is still headquartered on Pico there. The area is named for the 20th Century Fox’s Century Property.
In 1956, Fox President,Spyros Skouras (1893-1971),and his nephew Edmond Herrscher, an attorney sometimes known as “the father of Century City”, decided to repurpose the land for real estate development. The following year, in 1957, they commissioned a master-plan development from Welton Becket Associates.
However, in 1961, after Fox suffered a string of expensive flops,(including the very expensive Cleopatra), the film studio sold about 180 acres (0.73 km2) to developer William Zeckendorf and Aluminum Co. of America, also known as Alcoa, for US$300 million (US$2.4 billion in 2014’s money).
The new owners conceived Century City as “a city within a city”. In1963, the first building, Gateway West Building, was completed. The next year, in 1964, Minoru Yamasaki designed the Century Plaza Hotel and five years later, in 1969, architects Anthony J. Lumsden and César Pelli designed the Century City Medical Plaza.
Designed by Welton Beckett, the project, one of LA City Planning Director Calvin Hamilton’s 20 city centers, was developed and owned by Alcoa Aluminum. As originally planned, Century City was designed to consist of half residential and half office/commercial buildings.
The one time beanfields, barley fields and lemon groves of Rancho Park were replaced by golf courses, Fox studios, a vibrant local business community, and, in the 1960’s the development of Century City on the former backlot of Fox studios.
Development, governed by the Century City North and Century City South Specific Plans was designed to be governed by car trips assigned to the various properties – in part a reflection of the land locked nature of this commercial center.
As part of the region’s transportation plan, the Beverly Hills Freeway (California State Route 2) was to have passed in front of the Century City Mall but that freeway never came to be. CALTRANS and the City of Los Angeles received a Federal Multi-Modal Transportation grant to reconfigure Santa Monica Blvd. from Century City going west to the 405 Freeway. That multi-year construction project (one of the largest Los Angeles public works projects at the time) created new frontage roads, streamlined the main roadway, removed the remains of a former railroad line separating “big” and “little” Santa Monica Blvds. and incorporated a bike lane. Exclusive bus lanes were introduced in the Century City area. Westfield Corporation completed a major renovation and expansion of their Century City Mall which doubled the retail space and replaced one of the two Century City original “Gateway” office buildings on Santa Monica Blvd.
This view is looking east on Santa Monica Blvd. toward Century City which is on the right /south. The railway tracks, since removed appear to the left of the boulevard. Beverly Glen traversed under the tracks. As part of the multi-modal transportation project, the center median
billboards were removed
The iconic Century Plaza Hotel, not long ago proposed for demolition and site redevelopment, has been saved and underwent renovation and partial conversion to residential units. Behind it are two newly constructed office buildings. Across the street on Constellation Blvd. east of Avenue of the Stars will be the location of the METRO Purple Line Subway stop. A new office development is moving forward at northeast corner of Constellation and Avenue of the Stars.
In recent geological mapping, it was discovered that the Santa Monica Earthquake fault runs along Santa Monica Blvd. on the northern border of Century City
Where is West Los Angeles?
If one were to look closely at the official Los Angeles County Map from 1888 and entered “according to Act of Congress” you would see that the southwest corner is labelled “West L.A.” In fact, until 1896, the city’s western edge was where the present-day Hoover Street is located.
Forty years later, in 1928, the Los Angeles Times reported that West Los Angeles denoted a far larger area miles west: the “territory lying between Mulholland High Way on the north, National Boulevard and Venice Boulevard on the south and between Fairfax Avenue and the Pacific Ocean.” (It’s West Los Angeles Now, Vast Territory Adopts New Name After Survey, and Choice Gets Approval of Whole Area’s Leaders, Los Angeles Times, October 1, 1928.)
West Los Angeles has grown to become a vibrant engine for the LA Metropolitan region with world class educational, medical, business and entertainment industry hubs. It is a diverse collection of residents and communities, each with its own unique history and characteristics.
History prepared by Barbara Broide as presented to LA City Planning Dept. staff as part of the WNC Land Use Committee’s briefing for the Planning staff assigned to working on the revisions to the WLA Community Plan. A tour of the area was also included as part of the orientation to the planners. Unfortunately, all of the planners that were originally assigned to the WLA Community Plan are no longer staffing the plan.
Material related to Cheviot Hills area history was adapted or copied from: www.cheviothillshistory.org