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Beverly Hills, California

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Beverly Hills, California
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Beverly Hills, California

Beverly Hills is a city located in Los Angeles County, California, U.S.A., which is bordered on the north by the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains, on the east by the City of West Hollywood and the Fairfax District of the City of Los Angeles, on the south by Los Angeles and on the west by Westwood Village and Century City, which are neighborhoods of Los Angeles and not separate incorporated cities.

Contents

History

Early years

The area that would one day become Beverly Hills was fertile because of the streams that met there in the rainy months as the waters cascaded down from the canyons that became known as Coldwater and Benedict, creating a cienega (or swamp) at the location of present day Sunset Boulevard and Beverly Drive. The foothill site had flocks of geese and ducks, bands of wild horses and herds of antelope. Native American inhabitants, the Tongva (who the Spanish named the Gabrielino) tribe, considered it a holy site and named it "The Gathering of the Waters," which in the Spanish language is "El Rodeo de las Aguas."

The Spanish arrived in the area on August 3, 1769 as the land expedition of Gaspar de Portolá, the first governor of the province of California, some Franciscan priests and a cavalcade of leather-jacket soldiers and horses, traveled over the Indian trail, which would one day be Wilshire Boulevard, across the plain toward the foothills gouged with deep canyons, and made camp in the cool of the sycamore trees at the present site of La Cienega Park, near the large swamp. On September 27, 1821, New Spain became Mexico and the province of California quietly changed flags.

Also in the 1820s, a retired Spanish soldier, who was by now an invalid on a pension, Vicente Ferrer Valdez, and his wife, Maria Rita Valdez de Villa, went to live on the 4,500 acre (18 km²) Rancho El Rodeo de las Aguas. Rita did not care for the name, however, and chose to call it San Antonio. The Valdez adobe home was built near what is the present day intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Alpine Drive. Numerous vaqueros (or cowboys) were employed to tend the cattle and horses. Valdez died in 1828, leaving Rita a widow with eleven children.

In 1831, the alcalde (mayor) of the pueblo (town) of Los Angeles, Vicente Sanchez, granted to Rita, jointly with Luciano Valdez (her kinsman), a tract of land styled San Antonio. She began having trouble with Luciano Valdez, however, and decided the rancho was not big enough for the both of them. In 1834, she testified before the Los Angeles City Council that Luciano built his house within 70 feet (21 m) of hers, obstructing the view; ran her cattle off the only watering hole on the rancho, which sent them wandering over the neighbor's property, kept her from planting and dared her to complain. When she did complain, Rita found the man of bad temper, a user of indecent language and generally intolerable. The council agreed and ordered him to vacate the premises. In 1840, the land grant was confirmed by the governor of California, Juan Bautista Alvarado. By 1844, Rita had built a second home, this one on Main Street in Los Angeles, which is where she kept her title papers and grant. Before the Americans commanded by Commodore Stocton entered the city in 1846, she, her children, and other Californios, fled. When she returned, she found her papers had been stolen.

The Territory of California was admitted as a state on September 9, 1850. The United States Board of Land Commissioners later confirmed her title. But before that happened, Rita tired of Indian raids on her livestock and sold the rancho in 1854 to Benjamin D. Wilson and Henry Hancock. Hancock sold out to William Workman, who planned to grow wheat. But after one successful season, the drought of 1863-1864 put a temporary end to farming in the area. The legendary waters dried up, crops withered and cattle died.

A brief oil boom brought a flourish of interest in the land in 1865 when the Pioneer Oil Company bought the rights to drill wells. But the wildcatting ended when the land proved as dry underneath as on top. Then newcomers arrived and herds of sheep appeared on the land, with portions being sold. James Whitworth bought a 125 acre (0.5 km²) parcel between what became Robertson and La Cienega Boulevards, north of what became Pico Boulevard, and Edison A. Benedict built a home in 1868 at the mouth of the canyon that bears his name. Benedict and his son, Pierce, bought adjoining land, planted walnut trees, beans and other vegetables and raised bees.

That same year, 1868, Dr. Edward A. Preuss purchased the ranch, less the 125 acres (0.5 km²) to Whitworth, from Wilson and Workman. He later sold half interest to Francis P.F. Temple to form a corporation for a subdivision. Pruess and Temple deeded their land to the corporation and the De Las Aguas Land Association was formed with headquarters in San Francisco. Nearly the whole ranch was divided into 75 acre (303,000 m²) farming lots with the center reserved for the "Town of Santa Maria," which was to be split into five acre (20,000 m²) lots to be sold at $10.00 each. The proposed main street of the town was Los Angeles Avenue, which is today Wilshire Boulevard. But another drought came and the dream of Dr. Preuss blew away with the dust as the land reverted to sheep ranching.

Henry Hammel and Charles Denker, owners of the United States Hotel in Los Angeles, then purchased the land. Lima beans was the only crop to flourish, along with the sheep, but their ultimate dream was to establish a subdivision called Morocco. During their ownership in the 1880s, there was a land boom and a stream train brought buyers from Los Angeles to Santa Monica, passing through the Hammel and Denker Ranch. A station named Morocco, with a town of the same name was shown on the map of 1888, but the station and the town existed only on paper. The land boom collapsed, taking their plans along with it.

Creation of Beverly Hills

In 1900, the land was purchased by the Amalgamated Oil Company. They drilled several wells, only to have their drill bits gather dust above and below ground. And by 1906, the property passed into the hands of the Rodeo Land and Water Company, with Burton E. Green as head of the development company.

Green and the new corporation hired a landscape architect, Wilbur D. Cook, who designed a town with large lots for homes and wide curving streets, to be lined with palm, eucalyptus, acacia and other variety of trees. Cook also created a three block long, eighty-feet wide greensward along the north side of Santa Monica Boulevard called Santa Monica Park. When trying to decide on a name for the town they were about to build, Burton Green happened to read a newspaper article that mentioned Beverly Farms, Massachusetts, and as he read, it struck him that Beverly was a pretty name. He suggested the name Beverly Hills to his associates and it was accepted.

The names of the streets, Crescent, Canon, Beverly, Rodeo, Camden, Bedford, Roxbury and Linden Drives, Carmelita, Elevado and Lomitas Avenues, and Burton Way, appeared on a map for the first time on January 23, 1907, when the subdivision of Beverly Hills was filed at the County Recorder's Office. On November 15, two lots on Crescent Drive were sold to Henry C. Clarke and he built a home. During 1910, after the financial panic of 1907-1908 had blown over, land sales were in full bloom and houses began to dot the landscape.

The Beverly Hills Hotel was built in 1912 and immediately became the center of social life in the area. Church was held in the hotel on Sunday; all formal social affairs were conducted in the grand ballroom; brides had to be married in the hotel; and the only motion picture theater was located there. Mrs. Margaret Anderson, well known in Los Angeles hotel circles, was brought in from the Hollywood Hotel as manager.

A streetcar line ran down the middle of Sunset Boulevard from Los Angeles through Hollywood. By late 1913, with a population of 550, there were fifty more residents than needed to incorporate.

On January 28, 1914, Beverly Hills was incorporated. 1915 saw the first land annexation to the city. Street lights and fire equipment were purchased and the tax rate was fixed at $1.00 for each $100.00 of assessed valuation.

Middle years

In 1919, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford bought land on Summit Drive and built Pickfair, the house that would remain Pickford's home after she and Fairbanks divorced and for the rest of her life. Other wealthy movie people followed them and settled in Beverly Hills. Will Rogers, a wisecracking political humorist, wrote of the land boom in 1923, "Lots are sold so quickly and often out here that they put through escrow made out to the 12th owner... They couldn't possibly make out a separate deed for each purchaser; besides, he wouldn't have time to read it in the 10 minutes' time he owned the land." The movie colony was well entrenched by 1928 when Harold Lloyd built his mansion in Benedict Canyon, followed by John Barrymore, Robert Montgomery and Miriam Hopkins. Thus, Beverly Hills became famous for being home to the rich and socially elite and for the large, stylish mansions of famous movie stars.

The population in 1920 was 672; in 1924, it was 5,000; by 1930, it was 17,429. The issuance of building permits in 1918 totaled $35,200; in 1919, $304,900; in 1921, $787,729; 1922, $1,838,994.

In early 1920, the Beverly Hills Speedway, a 1.25 mile wood oval track with turns banked 35 degrees, which was built at a cost of $500,000 on the south side of Wilshire Boulevard between Beverly Drive on the east and Lasky Drive on the west in Beverly Hills, was opened. Joe Boyer ran his race car 110 mph during the exhibition run. The races drew huge crowds and radio broadcasts were on a par with today's Indianapolis 500. There were also some aviation shows, another national craze. The speedway was closed in 1924 and the site was later subdivided for housing and businesses.

In 1923, annexation to the City of Los Angeles was proposed, but received opposition. Residents Mary Pickford, Will Rogers and others mobilized local voters against the plan. Those for annexation argued that Los Angeles would provide an adequate supply of better quality water for growth. Workers left bottles of sulfur-smelling water on the doorsteps of every home in Beverly Hills with a label that read: "Warning. Drink sparingly of this water as it has laxative qualities." Despite the campaign tactics, annexation was defeated 507 to 337. The following year, the city voted $400,000 in bonds to purchase the water system from the Beverly Hills Utilities Company and drill additional wells.

This fight for an independent city was arguably the first union of show business and politics in the United States. When Will Rogers became involved in local city government the community received international advertising. In 1925, long before Ronald Reagan became governor or Clint Eastwood became mayor of Carmel, Rogers was given the title "Honorary Mayor of Beverly Hills," which was the first and only time anyone has been so honored. That same year, the citizens of the city voted a $100,000 bond issue to purchase with Los Angeles, Santa Monica and Venice 385 acres (1.6 km²) for the building of UCLA. There were ninety-six miles (154 km) of paved streets in the city limits by 1927. In 1928, the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard between El Camino and Rodeo Drives, part of the old Beverly Hills Speedway, was completed. That same year, Greystone Mansion was completed by Edward L. Doheny, Jr., the only son and heir of wealthy oil man Edward L. Doheny. And in 1930, horses were banned in the City of Beverly Hills.

Fountain with colored lights at intersection of Wilshire Blvd. and Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills, California

Beverly Hills continued to grow. Promotional materials from the period touted the young metropolis as the "center of the next million." Fortunately, human-scale public improvements helped soften the effects of growth. In the early 1930s, Santa Monica Park was renamed Beverly Gardens and was extended to span the entire two mile length of Santa Monica Boulevard through the city. At its Santa Monica and Wilshire corner, the Electric Fountain, a constant symphony of form and color at night, was installed, with a small sculpture at the top of a Tongva kneeling in prayer, homage to the heritage of Beverly Hills as a wellspring of fertility and abundance.

The following year, 1932, a new Italian Renaissance-style City Hall was opened. By 1933, however, the Depression hit Beverly Hills. The city and school board cut salaries to save funds. In February, some 161 parcels of land were advertised for sale for delinquent lighting assessments. The Chamber of Commerce established an employment bureau and the mayor requested a branch welfare office from the County of Los Angeles.

Despite these problems, in April 1934 there was a huge celebration over the dedication of the city's new United States Post Office. The civic festival that followed was called Beverly Hills on Parade. By 1937, the city had weathered the storm of the Depression and was riding the crest of a wave of retail sales that reached more than $20,000,000 and bank deposits topped the $25,000,000 figure. Property values of that year showed a 30% increase over the previous year and new buildings were being opened regularly.

In the years after World War II, energies were again turned toward the building of the city; businesses and residential areas began to flourish.

Modern Beverly Hills

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Rodeo Drive

By the 1950s, few vacant lots remained and developers cropped whole mountains to ease the housing shortage. The Trousdale Estates area was eventually annexed and an expensive housing development began to take shape in the hills above the city. Beverly Hills continued to develop as one of the most glamorous places in the world to live, eat, play and, especially, shop. The Golden Triangle, with Rodeo Drive at its center, was built and marketed to the rest of the world as the shopping destination of a lifetime. Many other fine hotels opened, attracting visitors from all over the world.

The city's image has been enhanced by being featured in television shows and movies set in Beverly Hills, among them The Jack Benny Program (1950 to 1954), The Beverly Hillbillies (1962 to 1971), Beverly Hills Cop (1984), The Beverly Hillbillies (1993) and Beverly Hills 90210 (1990 to 2000).

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2 Rodeo and its Spanish Steps is at the heart of the exclusive shopping district on Rodeo Drive.

90210 is an actual ZIP Code in Beverly Hills, and the show made it arguably the most famous ZIP Code in the world. Ironically, most of 90210 actually lies within the city limits of Los Angeles; however, the U.S. Postal Service considers all addresses in that ZIP Code to be Beverly Hills addresses. Real estate agents designate these adjoining areas "Beverly Hills Post Office". Despite its reputation, it is not the wealthiest Zip Code in the nation or even the state (the wealthiest Zip Code in California is 94027, generally located in Atherton, California).

The Via Rodeo, the first new street in Beverly Hills in seventy-six years, was completed in 1990. The Spanish cobblestone street leads to 2 Rodeo, the most exclusive "mini-mall" in the world. In 1992, the Beverly Hills Civic Center was opened. Designed by architect Charles Moore, it links the new public library, fire and police departments with the historic City Hall.

While the city derives its unique personality from being favored by show business people; and it is true that many actors, writers, directors and producers live in the city and take part in civic life; many professionals, doctors and lawyers, have homes and offices in the city also. The dominant politics is overwhelmingly liberal Democratic, and the city has a strong Jewish community. The Beverly Hills Unified School District, with its four elementary schools and the Beverly Hills High School, boasts particularly high academic achievement.

The world famous City of Beverly Hills is synonymous with wealth, status and celebrity. And its mystique as a place of abundance and beauty continues to grow as it has since the days of the Tongva.

Geography

Beverly Hills is located at 34°4'23" North, 118°23'58" West (34.073109, -118.399460)Template:GR.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 14.7 km² (5.7 mi²). 14.7 km² (5.7 mi²) of it is land and none of it is covered by water.

Main thoroughfares include Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica Boulevard, and Sunset Boulevard. Shopping streets include Beverly Drive and Rodeo Drive. Coldwater Canyon Drive is the main road through Beverly Hills into the San Fernando Valley.

Demographics

As of the censusTemplate:GR of 2000, there are 33,784 people, 15,035 households, and 8,269 families residing in the city. The population density is 2,300.5/km² (5,954.0/mi²). There are 15,856 housing units at an average density of 1,079.7/km² (2,794.4/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 85.06% White, 1.77% Black or African American, 0.13% Native American, 7.05% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.50% from other races, and 4.46% from two or more races. 4.63% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There are 15,035 households out of which 24.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.8% are married couples living together, 8.1% have a female householder with no husband present, and 45.0% are non-families. 38.2% of all households are made up of individuals and 11.3% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.24 and the average family size is 3.02.

In the city the population is spread out with 20.0% under the age of 18, 6.3% from 18 to 24, 29.3% from 25 to 44, 26.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.6% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 41 years. For every 100 females there are 83.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 79.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city is $70,945, which is typical for an upper-middle class suburb. Yet, the median price for a owner-occupied house exceeds $1,000,000. This is because of an unusually large proportion of renters in the city. There are so many renters in Beverly Hills that homeowners are not the majority. Renter-occupied housing units comprise 56.6 percent of the city's housing stock and the median household income for renter-occupied housing units is $48,179, which is just slightly above average.

The median household incomes for owner-occupied housing units is $125,707.

The median income for a family is $102,611. Males have a median income of $72,004 versus $46,217 for females. The per capita income for the city is $65,507. 9.1% of the population and 7.9% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 9.5% of those under the age of 18 and 7.9% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.

Landmarks and interesting spots

External links

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