I enjoyed learning about where 3940dxer
lives, so I thought I might entertain myself, and you too I hope, by showing you where I live.
After often being too cold in Hermosa Beach where I grew up and too warm in Hollywood where I lived later, I finally found somewhere just right, Rancho San Jose de Buenos Ayres, just one square league in size, does have exceedingly "good air". It was granted to Jose Maximo Alanis in 1843 by Governor Micheltorena. Maximo sold it to Benjamin "Don Benito" Wilson in 1858 who used it for cattle grazing. Wilson, in turn, sold it to John Wolfskill in 1884 and it became the Wolfskill Ranch (not to be confused with the William Wolfskill Ranch on Alameda).
The little map below shows the Rancho, improved with a "Casa y Corral" in the 1840s (Maximo Atlantis described the house as "somewhat ruined " in 1851):
This map shows the rancho in relationship to the other ranchos and to the rest of Los Angeles:
During the time Wolfskill owned the rancho, the Los Angeles and Pacific Railway (it started as the LA Ostrich Farm Railway), which had a 30'-wide right-of-way over the land, together with the Los Angeles and Santa Monica Land and Water Company, platted 800 lots for a town they called "Sunset" apparently without Wolfskill's permission. Wolfskill took the pair of them to court in 1891 and recovered his land (which he actually never used much). The narrow gauge Balloon Route tracks went in in 1895, upgraded in 1911 to regular gauge and run by Pacific Electric. There were originally three stops in what would become Westwood Hills: Buenos Ayres, High Bridge and Wolfskill (there actually was a railway bridge over Beverly Glen. It was removed in the 1990s).
(larger, zoomable version)
Rancho San Jose de Buenos Ayres remained intact until John Wolfskill's death in 1913, the last of the ranchos to do so. In 1919 the Wolfskill heirs sold much of the rancho to Englishman Arthur Letts, of The Broadway and Bullock's fame. A huge $2 million investment. He planned to subdivide and develop the northern portion into estates, but died without being able to realize his vision. The view below, from about the time of the Letts purchase, shows the land with the Wolfskill ranch house center left (I'm unclear as to whether or not this is on the same site as the casa shown on the 1840s map), facing the P.E. tracks which run parallel with the site of the as-yet unbuilt Santa Monica Blvd. Several springs form streams which gather and pass under a bridge over Pico Blvd. at lower left. The line of trees, left of center, is Brown's Canyon Road (now Beverly Glen). An oil well is at lower right:
Harold Janss of Janss Investment Company, Arthur Letts son-in-law, was more interested in middle-class homes, as opposed to estates. He started with the southern part of the parcel, diverted the springs into underground pipes, filled in the streams and platted 1,000 home and business lots in a development he named Westwood Hills. "Janss Investment Company" was stamped repeatedly in the wet concrete of the sidewalks. It was known as a "country district". Many families bought three house lots, particularly south of the P.E. tracks, where they were cheaper, using the extra space to grow vegetables and raise chickens and rabbits. Some wealthier homeowners added a tennis court to one extra lot and a swimming pool to the other. Homes had fireplaces for heat and backyard incinerators for trash. With rising land prices after WWII, most of these extra lots were sold off for new houses. One can still notice the pattern in the ages of the homes.
The circa 1924 photo below (taken from a slightly different angle from the one above) shows the new development reaching from Wilshire on the north to Pico on the south and from Westwood Blvd on the west to Fox Hills Drive on the east, with a further small section running SW from Patricia and Pico. Model homes were built, the usual CC&R's were added, including, as well as the racial ones, the restriction of architecture styles to English, Spanish or Mediterranean, and lots offered for sale as early as 1922. Westwood Village, very large home lots and UCLA will be developed in 1928-29 north of Wilshire. UCLA chose the site, of the seventeen considered, because of the climate. It's an undeniable draw. It can be as much as 20 degrees cooler than Beverly Hills on very hot days, while the ocean fog rarely reaches us.
The large empty parcel, upper left, within the platted area is the Wolfskill ranch house, on the P.E. route, at the T-junction with Overland Ave, standing alone on twenty-five plus acres. The Harold Lloyd Motion Picture Company's Westwood studio ranch occupied this site a bit after this photo was taken. The northern portion was sold off to build the Saint Paul the Apostle RC church and school circa 1930 and Richard Neutra's Emerson Jr High School in 1938. Lloyd's declining fortunes caused him to sell the rest to the LDS church in 1937. The church finally built the LDS temple there in 1956.
The area immediately to the east of Fox Hills Drive, once Tom Mix' ranch, will become the the present home of 20th Century Fox Studios, stretching from Pico on the south, where it forms a T-junction with Motor Ave. to Santa Monica Blvd on the north. The northern half of the studio will become Century City in the early 1960s. The Los Angeles Country Club (which is also visible in the first photo), at its third home since 1911, is north of the future home of Fox Studios. Rancho Country Club, taking up the the lower quarter of the photo will become Rancho Park Recreation Center and Cheviot Hills Park, to the west of Motor Ave, and Hillcrest Country Club to the east. Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Oil Field are on the right margin:
Harold Lloyd Motion Picture Company back lot, Overland and Santa Monica, ca 1928:
Three men, presumably from Janss Investment, stand near the P.E. tracks as they point out the route of a "New 50 Foot Blvd" (Big and Little Santa Monica Blvds will run on both sides of, and parallel to, the tracks). The billboard is a Janss advertisement for Westwood, "Now Open". Big plans:
The P.E. Red Car stop at Santa Monica and Westwood Blvds, 1941, looking west:
(the Pontiac dealership on the left is now a Cost Plus)
ucla libary - digital collection
Olympic Blvd was the last street to be added to Westwood Hills. It was put through in the 1930s. Big and little Santa Monica Boulevards, the Red Cars long gone, were combined into one huge street in the 2000s.
The second home I owned in Westwood Hills (both houses were south of Santa Monica Blvd, one built in '24, the other in '27; I still live in an apartment here) was built on a slope overlooking one of the former streams, now a street. It used to flood above the curbs in heavy rains (and apparently, judging by the way the homes are sited, much higher in the years before storm drains were installed). One of our young neighbors used to surf the length of our long block during these rains. A memorable sight. The name of the street is Fairburn, Scots for "beautiful stream". The huge flood in 1993 (I think it was) completely overwhelmed the storm drains and turned the avenue into a raging torrent, flooding our garage. (My Jetta was filled with water to seat-level. When it dried out, it started right up, so I can't really complain.) Water and gravity really are one of the killer combinations as Angelenos are forever finding out.
The End. This went on much
longer than I anticipated.
(I tried to get this right, but please correct any inaccuracies if you have the time or inclination. There's so much that went on in south SJdeBA, one (at least this one) can get confused, plus conflicting and/or erroneous data on the net trips one up. If anyone knows any more about Harold Lloyd's time here, pls let me know. Thx)