6 open houses to check out this weekend around Pasadena

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Keller Williams

Asking prices range from $899K to $1.895 million

Welcome to another edition of our weekly series rounding up open houses to check out over the weekend, because who doesn’t love a little real estate gawking? This week’s installment shines the spotlight on six listings in Altadena and Pasadena.

 Keller Williams

Where: 1261 Sunny Oaks Circle, Altadena, 91001
When: 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, September 21

Living up to its street name, this 1950s three-bedroom a little south of Altadena’s Rubio Canyon is surrounded by beautiful oaks, yet is still nice and bright inside. The 1,622-square-foot home also features hardwood floors, a brick fireplace, an updated kitchen, and French doors. It’s listed with Jason and Laura Berns of Keller Williams at an asking price of $899,000.

 Keller Williams

Where: 1218 N. Chester Ave., Pasadena 91104
When: 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, September 22

Asking $999,000, this 1922 Colonial Craftsman is located in Pasadena’s historic Bungalow Heaven. Measuring 1,811 square feet, it’s got three bedrooms, two bathrooms, wood floors, picture rail moldings, a porch swing, and an ample lot with redwood and citrus trees. Jason and Laura Berns of Keller Williams share the listing.


Where: 1963 Sierra Madre Villa Ave., Pasadena 91107
When: 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, September 22

This handsome 1966 post and beam home sits on over half an acre within the unincorporated Kinneloa Ranch area in the foothills north of Pasadena, once owned by Abbott Kinney. Along with four bedrooms and three baths, the 2,402-square-foot modern has sliding glass walls, multiple redwood decks, a guest kitchenette, and a detached bonus space. It’s listed with Jennifer Cahill and Courtney Smith of Compass at an asking price of $1.199 million.

 Keller Williams

Where: 1890 Homewood Dr., Altadena, 91001
When: 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, September 21

This midcentury ranch a couple blocks south of Eaton Canyon may not be the most stylish of residences, but it sure seems lots of fun. Along with a big swimming pool and spa, it’s got a tree house with a zip line, a chicken coop, a raised bed organic garden, and a wisteria-shaded courtyard with waterfall and koi pond. The three-bedroom, two-bath home is listed with Meredith McKenzie of Keller Williams at an asking price of $1.199 million.

 Keller Williams

Where: 1301 Morada Place, Altadena 91001
When: 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, September 21 and Sunday, September 22

Occupying a .28-acre lot not far from the venerable Fox’s restaurant, this compound property consists of a 2,724-square-foot main house with six bedrooms and three bathrooms plus a separate 900-square-foot studio that, in the words of the listing, “has been reinvented in the Contemporary Craftsman style by noted architect Jane Carroll of Ojai.” Asking price is $1.595 million, and Cariy Hernandez of Keller Williams has the listing.

 Coldwell Banker

Where: 360 California Terrace, Pasadena 91105
When: 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, September 21

Pasadena architect John Pugsley drew up this snazzy four-bedroom residence near the Lower Arroyo Seco in 1959, and it’s still looking minty-fresh and modern six decades later. Built around a courtyard, the 2,428-square-foot home features carved wood doors, copious walls of glass, Saltillo tile floors, and a swimming pool with spa. It’s listed with Robin Stever of Coldwell Banker at an asking price of $1.895 million.


Maroon 5 guitarist selling restored midcentury modern for $3.8M

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An open living area with glossy white floors is decorated with a blue velvet sofa, rounded green leather chairs, and a white marble-topped coffee table atop a red and blue Persian rug. The kitchen is visible in the background.

A pool, walls of glass, and views of Downtown LA

The band members of Maroon 5 sure know how to pick ’em. They’ve racked up several impressive midcentury modern residences, including this glossy steel number in Los Feliz, appropriately named The Steel House. Lead guitarist James Valentine purchased the home in 2006, paying $2.2 million, and he’s now ready to part with it.

It’s come a long way in 13 years. About a year after scooping up the property at 2300 North Edgemont, Valentine enlisted Mark Haddawy, who restores architectural homes, to undo changes made in the ’90s that strayed from its original 1960 condition.

“You could tell it was a great house,” says Haddawy. But original elements, including the beamed ceilings had been covered up. “The idea was that the steel decking on the outside was to pass through the inside,” he says, but a previous owner “had dry-walled the whole inside of the house.”

Haddawy revealed the beams, stripped away slate flooring and installed terrazzo, and totally overhauled the kitchen and bathrooms. Without much, if any, original documentation to work on, he says “it took some imagination to try to create something that made sense.”

Sited on 0.29 acres directly below the Griffith Observatory, the 2,092-square-foot home wraps partially around a comma-shaped pool and is surrounded by verdant landscaping. Walls of glass offer views of that pool and greenery, along with the Downtown LA skyline. The home holds three bedrooms and two bathrooms, including a master suite with royal blue carpet, floating cabinets in Robin egg blue, and a built-in, sunken bathtub.

The home is on the market for $3.785 million and is listed with Juan Longfellow and Louise Leach of Deasy Penner Podley and Alex Barad of Nourmand and Associates.

An open living area with glossy white floors is decorated with a blue velvet sofa, rounded green leather chairs, and a white marble-topped coffee table atop a red and blue Persian rug. The kitchen is visible in the background.
A restoration peeled back drywall that had covered up steel beams that run throughout the inside of the home.
The entire home is bathed in natural light.
The built-in, sunken tub.
In the kitchen and bathrooms, sleek cabinets are a shade of Robin egg blue.
A bedroom with royal blue carpeting and a simple bed dressed in white linens. One of the walls is entirely glass and looks out over a pool.
The home is almost totally clad in walls of glass.
The home appears to hover over an oak tree that’s growing at an angle.

Little Sierra Madre cottage has chalet charm for $689K

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A sunny room with a wall of windows and high beamed ceilings. Beamed ceilings and loads of windows in the living room. | Photos by Pierre Galant, courtesy of Deasy Penner Podley

In a serene setting

Way up in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, this Sierra Madre cottage is close to hiking trails and far from the action and crowds of city life.

The 960-square-foot house in Little Santa Anita Canyon was built in 1949. It features “Swiss chalet”-style details, like the high pitched ceilings, the exposed ceiling beams, and the wavy decorative wooden details. The rock fireplace is another reminder that the mountains are nearby.

Its two bedrooms are ample and sunlit, and out of every window, there’s a view of mature trees or glimpses of the mountains or both.

Behind the house, a rambling, terraced backyard with a seating area stretches across the nearly 7,000 square foot lot. The trailhead for Mt. Wilson is about a mile away.

The house last sold in 2016 for $628,000. 674 Alta Vista Drive is for sale now for $689,000 with Vanessa Withers of Deasy Penner Podley.

A photo of the large fireplace, which has a rock mantle and hearth. Ceiling beams and a diamond-paned window are visible in the room.
The rock-covered fireplace is a reminder that, yes, you are basically in the mountains.
The dining room has hardwood floors and a table set up in front of a row of windows. Outside the windows you can see large trees.
Trees and mountain views are outside every window.
A room with high ceilings and a four-poster bed set up in the middle of the room. There are windows on either side of the bed and wooden furniture.
One of the house’s two bedrooms.
The kitchen has white counters and dark cabinets. There is a bar with hooks on it for hanging pots and pans as well as open shelves.
The U-shaped kitchen has good counter space and storage.
An outdoor area with many terraces cut into the dirt. Some areas of dirt have been planted, others have not. A large tree grows over the top portion of the photo.
The backyard is terraced and features a few tall trees.

Silver Lake’s Tokio Florist, for sale for $3.8M, climbing toward landmark status

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A pole sign that says “Tokio Florist” in the foreground of an overgrown yard of trees. And fence blocks off the driveway to the parking lot and thee rest of the property.The Tokio Florist as seen from Hyperion. | Via Cultural Heritage Commission

The Sakais were among the Japanese-Americans who once dominated the California flower industry

The shuttered Tokio Florist on Hyperion Avenue—one of the last remaining markers of LA’s “once-abundant flower growing industry”—is a big step closer to becoming a city landmark.

In a 4-0 vote, the cultural heritage commission moved today to declare the half-acre Silver Lake property, along with the 1911-built Tudor- and Craftsman-style house that sits on it, the sign that advertises the florist, and the garden that grows on the site, as a historic-cultural monument.

Catherine Gudis, an associate professor of history at UC Riverside, who prepared the landmark application, told commissioners that the property offered a rare chance to “highlight obscured history” of Japanese-Americans in Los Angeles, a demographic that produced 65 percent of flowers grown in California after World War II and through the 1970s.

It’s a marker that might not be around forever. The family has put the site up for sale, asking $3.98 million, and there is the “potential threat of development” that comes with the change of ownership, said Kristen Hayashi of the Little Tokyo Historical Society.

An up-close photo of the eaves and roofline of the home, with a large mature tree growing up around it.
A photo of the Tudor-Craftsman house, built in 1911.

The historical society nominated the site for monument status. Hayashi told commissioners that Yuki Sakai opened the Tokio Florist on Los Feliz Boulevard just before the Great Depression. They were one of several Japanese-American flower businesses on Los Feliz, and many Japanese-Americans lived in the area between East Hollywood and Silver Lake at the time.

Japanese-Americans dominated the flower industry for decades, though for many of those decades they could not legally own land or businesses, or rent in certain areas because of the state’s Alien Land Law and housing covenants that excluded non-whites.

During World War II, the Sakais were sent to the internment camp at Manzanar near Death Valley. Through an arrangement with a neighbor, they were able to maintain their rented land on Los Feliz. Once the family returned, “it took years before they could reopen,” Hayashi said.

In 1960, the Tokio Florist moved to the Hyperion property. Yumi Sakai, the daughter of the shop’s founder, and her husband, Frank Kozama, transformed the site, building a Japanese garden are the house that featured meandering paths, bridges, and water features around the property that not only delighted customers but ensured access to fresh flowers, Hayashi said.

The business closed in 2006, when the Kozawas retired. The Tudor-Craftsman on the site—the longtime home of Sumi Sakai, Yumi Sakai Kozawa, and Frank Kozawa—was built by the Althouse brothers in West Adams and moved to the Hyperion location in 1929.

The house remains in “remarkably” good condition, said commissioner Richard Barron, who had toured the site, but the gardens have been largely untended for years and have fallen in disrepair, he said. Nevertheless, the commission voted to name the entire half-acre property a historic-cultural monument.

LA gearing up to spend $336M to build 2,998 apartments for homeless residents

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These 50 affordable studio apartments for seniors at 11010 Santa Monica Boulevard in West LA are in line for $7 million in HHH funding. | Via Department of City Planning

“Let’s get these going,” councilmember says

Los Angeles lawmakers are queuing up $335.8 million to help build nearly 3,000 affordable apartments across the city for homeless Angelenos—including contested plans for the first homeless housing in the northwest San Fernando Valley.

The money will come from Measure HHH, a $1.2 billion bond that voters approved in 2016 to build 10,000 units of permanent supportive housing.

The Los Angeles City Council’s homelessness and poverty committee voted Wednesday evening to commit the money to developers of 38 affordable projects, with a combined 2,998 units. The vast majority will be permanent supportive housing, meaning they will come with on-site services.

The “criticism and frustration” that it’s taking a while to build Measure HHH housing is warranted, said Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who chairs the committee.

“Let’s get these going,” he said.

Developers will use letters of funding commitments from the city to cobble together financing from other lenders, and plans for individual projects will still have to be approved by city officials.

Some of the buildings will come with special amenities, including, in one case, an on-site health clinic, and in another, a market.

Of the supportive housing units, 975 would be built as part of the city’s “Housing Innovation Challenge,” a competition that challenged developers to come up with “unique” and “alternative” ways to build affordable housing more cheaply and quickly.

Among the six finalists are plans for an affordable bungalow court in South LA and the conversion of three existing “blighted or underutilized” non-residential sites, such as a church, into studios.

The full City Council needs to sign off on the funding commitments—and if it does, there will be no Measure HHH money left, according to Yolanda Chavez, assistant city administrative officer. The total number of HHH-funded units in the pipeline would stand at 8,625; 6,858 are supportive.

But it’s possible the City Council will reject funding for at least one of the projects. Newly-elected councilmember John Lee has pressed for a delay in the approval of $8.3 million to build 64 studio apartments with on-site services on Topanga Boulevard in Chatsworth. He wants more time to gather community feedback on the proposal. The homelessness and poverty committee denied his request.

At the same time, however, it’s giving Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who represents portions of South LA, a four-week delay in consideration of funding for two of four projects proposed in his district.

If two of the four move forward, Harris-Dawson said his district will have “in excess of 600” approved permanent supportive units. The Topanga apartments in Chatsworth are the first Measure HHH project pitched in Lee’s 12th district.

Harris-Dawson said it would be “absolutely insulting” for his request to be conflated with Lee’s.

Last year, City Councilmembers pledged to build at least 222 units of permanent supportive housing in each of their 15 districts over the next three years. (Lee, who was elected in August to fill a seat vacated by Mitch Englander, was not on the council at the time).

“We have a huge crisis, we need to build everywhere,” said Councilmember David Ryu.

No one, except a staffer from Lee’s office, spoke against the Topanga apartments at Wednesday’s committee meeting.

“If not that, what? If not there, where? If not now, when?” asked The Congregational Church of Chatsworth Rev. Bill Freeman. “Chatsworth, as I understand, doesn’t have any housing for the homeless, and it certainly needs it. I hope it’s just the first of many for Chatsworth.”


Stately 1930s French Normandy Revival seeking $2.1M in Windsor Square

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Jack Bremen

The home has three bedrooms, two and a half baths, and Mills Act tax benefits

Built in 1936, this French Normandy Revival in Windsor Square appears to be aging as gracefully as Catherine Deneuve. Located at 500 South Norton Avenue at West 5th Street, the well-preserved residence is a contributor to the neighborhood historic preservation zone, and comes with Mills Act tax benefits.

The three-bedroom, two and a half bath home’s got lots of other attractive qualities, such as hardwood floors, high ceilings, graceful moldings, French doors and windows, period light fixtures, built-in vanities, a working fireplace, and lovely original tile.

On a 5,505-square-foot lot with detached two-car garage, the property is listed with Jeremy Kaiser and Alyse Livingston of PLG Estates at an asking price of $2.095 million. Open houses are scheduled for 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday and 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

 Jack Bremen
The living room is lined with multiple sets of French doors and windows.
 Jack Bremen
Elaborate plaster moldings and an antique chandelier add refined elegance to the formal dining room.
 Jack Bremen
Vintage and modern elements blend seamlessly in the spacious kitchen.
 Jack Bremen
Bedrooms feature hardwood floors and ample built-in storage.
 Jack Bremen
The bathrooms boast period tile and fixtures.
 Joel Danto
The home sits on a 5,505-square-foot lot with a grassy backyard.

Inside Charli XCX’s Tudor-inspired Hollywoodland home

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The double-height living room’s floor-to-ceiling windows are decorated with paper chains left over from a Christmas party. | Photos by Tim Hirschmann, courtesy of Architectural Digest

“I love that it’s a little creepy and weird,” she tells Architectural Digest

Pop star and songwriter Charli XCX certainly picked a humdinger of a home when she relocated to Los Angeles: a Tudor-inspired residence in Hollywoodland, the housing development that’s the reason why the Hollywood sign exists.

The English singer, who wrote and was featured in Icona Pop’s 2013 hit “I Love It,” purchased the property in 2015.

“I love the dark wood. I love that it’s a little creepy and weird. It just felt really right for me,” she tells Architectural Digest, which got a tour of the place. Charli decorated the house, which was built in 1927, herself, largely from antique stores and estate sales, in a style AD calls “charmingly mismatched.”

The vibrant palette and the eclectic art collection (which the performer is working to grow) give the otherwise monochrome house a youthful pizzazz.

“I just like the house to feel busy,” she tells AD. “I like that this house has just seen a lot of stories and fun things happen.”

For the full house tour and all the photos, head to Architectural Digest.

The reading nook.
A white piano against a white wall with most of the space occupied by framed art. To the left of the piano is an example of the house’s eclectic brick work.
The in-house music studio.
An outdoor space with a fire pit, brick paving, and slim trees.
The outdoor space is capped off with a pink cow—a leftover from live Charli XCX shows.

Case Study architect Edward Killingsworth’s Long Beach home for sale for $3.3M

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Available for the first time since being built in 1961

A designer of four of the 24 homes built for Arts and Architecture’s Case Study House program, Edward Killingsworth first came to the attention of the magazine’s editor, John Entenza, after Entenza drove past a 743-square-foot residence and office in Los Alamitos that Killingsworth had designed for his in-laws in 1950.

In 1961, the architect designed another home, this one for his own family, with that “stop the car” quality. Were the arresting residence not located within the gated confines of Long Beach’s exclusive Virginia Country Club, it may very well have incited a few pile-ups over the years. Now the Killingsworth House has come up for sale for the first time ever, predictably inciting a bidding war.

Sited on a .7-acre lot overlooking the country club’s golf course, the home presents an impressive facade, with a pair of oversize iron lanterns fit for a medieval castle adorning the walls at its entry. There’s even a modernist nod to a moat in the form of an elongated water feature that splits the red brick path leading to the house.

Suitably fortified against uninvited intrusion, the elegant sanctuary freely welcomes nature and light in with endless expanses of glass, slotted-wood atrium ceilings, and multiple skylights. Other architectural elements include 12-foot ceilings, a “floating” fireplace, sliding room dividers, wood-paneled walls, brick floors, and custom built-ins.

Listed with Crosby Doe and Gordon Newsom for an asking price of $3.3 million, the architecturally significant property has just gone under contract; backup offers, however, are still being considered.

Direct sunlight is tempered by the slotted-wood ceiling in the home’s atrium.
Features include 12-foot ceilings, a floating fireplace, and wood-paneled walls.
A modernist twist on the moat.
Ample expanses of glass erase boundaries between indoors and out.

Affordable, permanent supportive housing development slated for Mar Vista

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A street view of the project site. It is occupied by  one-story concrete building and there are trees on the sidewalk in front of the building.The site at 12901 West Venice Boulevard where permanent supportive housing is proposed. | Google Maps

The housing would be aimed at the homeless and people with disabilities

The Los Angeles City Council voted today to put out a call for developers to build permanent supportive housing on Venice Boulevard in Mar Vista.

The property at Venice Boulevard and Beethoven Street is now home to the offices of the Disability Community Resource Center, a nonprofit that works to promote independence for people with disabilities and has been at the location since 1983. The nonprofit is a partial owner of the property, along with the city, so it will have an active role in the development process as it moves forward.

The call for developers would seek to find someone to build a project that includes permanent supportive housing for the homeless, and a new headquarters and office space for the Disability Community Rights Center, says Councilmember Mike Bonin, whose district includes the property.

“The property… presents a unique opportunity to provide affordable housing and services for people who are homeless and/or disabled,” says Bonin. A report from the city’s administrative officer says the property could potentially hold as many as 38 units.

People with disabilities are particularly vulnerable in the city’s housing crisis because affordable housing is not usually accessible housing, says TJ Hill, the executive director of the Disability Community Resource Center. Housing that takes Section 8 vouchers is also not often wheelchair-accessible, he says.

The federal government has sued the city of Los Angeles for not providing enough affordable housing for people with mobility-related disabilities, a problem it has not fully addressed, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The same population is “extremely vulnerable” when homeless, Hill says, noting that the life expectancy of someone with serious disability who becomes homeless is about one year.

“Those are things we’re trying to rectify with this project,” says Hill.

The call for developers could go out as soon as next month, a spokesperson for Bonin says.


How LA neighborhoods got their names

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Young people sitting in yellow metal chairs dine on a sidewalk lined with trees. In the background, a vintage theater with green neon sign that reads in cursive print Los Feliz.Rancho Los Feliz, or the “happy farm,” prospered for decades before it was developed. | Liz Kuball

From Los Feliz to Compton, the origin stories of 13 neighborhoods

In the compact recorded history of Los Angeles, a surprising number of neighborhoods, developments, and village names have come and gone. Glen Creason, historian, author, and map librarian at the city’s Central Library, names a few of his favorites: Dusky Glen, Senorita, Bangle, Klondike Park, Montezuma, Poppy Fields, Cape of Good Hope, Devil’s Gate, Funston, and Barnes City. These monikers didn’t survive the wild west Los Angeles real estate frenzy of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but many of the neighborhoods we know and live in today were named during that heady time.

With so many developments and subdivisions springing up over the past 150 years, names came about in a variety of ways. “They allowed the citizens of Glendale to vote for the name of their city,” Creason says. “It was decided in a narrow margin that Glendale would beat out Indianapolis.”

Many communities took their names from aristocratic or literary roots. According to Janet Atkinson, author of the highly informative Los Angeles County Historical Directory, the town of Chatsworth was named by Spencer Compton, the Duke of Devonshire, for his family estate of Chatsworth. Hawthorne was named after the revered American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, while Montrose, inspired by Sir Walter Scott’s A Legend of Montrose, was the winning entry in a naming contest.

Other names had more plebian origins. According to Atkinson, Glendora was named for the glen behind founder George D. Whitcomb’s house and his wife, Leadora. Baldwin Hills and Village were both named after the infamous landowner and racetrack owner Elias “Lucky” Baldwin, who had once owned the development’s land. Still others derived from Spanish and Mexican ranchos, and a precious few from the native Californians who lived in the area for centuries.

To Creason, these names illustrate the “total melting pot aspect of LA.” They also illustrate “the see-saw between the Spanish roots and the carpetbagger and developer squelching of other cultures,” Creason says. “The other kind of sad truth is that much of the naming of things was done by those with money and not those who lived in certain places.”


Yup, your guess was right. Tarzana is indeed named after Tarzan, the legendary (and fictional) King of the Jungle. In 1919, author Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan, bought Mil Flores, a sprawling country estate in the mountains above Ventura Boulevard, from Los Angeles Times publisher Harrison Gray Otis. Always a master self-promoter, Burroughs renamed the estate Tarzana, and began to create a self-sustaining fairyland complete with a castle, golf course, riding trials, and a menagerie of farm animals. In 1922, Burroughs decided to subdivide 50 acres of his estate—using ads that read, “Tarzan of the Apes to Sell Lots in Tarzana.” In 1928, residents of Tarzana merged with the neighboring community of Runnymede. Thus the “City of Tarzana” was born.

Large homes in a variety of architectural styles, from colonial to Mediterranean, line a beachfront. Getty Images/iStockphoto
Manhattan Beach was named after Manhattan, New York.
Manhattan Beach

According to Atkinson, in 1900 a group of businessmen led by Frank S. Daugherty incorporated the Highland Beach Company. The company bought 20 acres of beachfront land that had once been part of the Rancho Sausal Redondo and developed a new community, which they called Shore Acres. Next door, a man named Stewart Miller, who also owned a portion of the old rancho, decided to name his new development after his former home: Manhattan, New York. Deciding to merge the two, community leaders tossed a coin to decide between Shore Acres and Manhattan. Manhattan won.

Echo Park

Around 1868, a reservoir for storing drinking water, known as Reservoir No. 4, was built by The Los Angeles Canal and Reservoir Company in the rural hills of what was then West Los Angeles. Historian Nathan Masters asserts that it had been constructed to lure potential developers, but the bustling suburb that investors hoped would spring up around it never came to fruition. Eventually, the owners donated the reservoir and some surrounding land to the city for a public park.

According to legend (and the Los Angeles Times), in 1886, Englishman Joseph Henry Tomlinson, a prolific landscape architect in early Los Angeles, was tasked with transforming the public utility into a park. While working at the site one day, Tomlinson called out to his assistant, only to hear his voice echo back to him off the nearby hills. Tomlinson was charmed and named the former Reservoir No. 4 site Echo Park.


In the 1850s, early English-speaking pioneer Benjamin Wilson purchased the Huerta de Custe ranch, which had once been part of the sprawling Rancho San Antonio. According to Los Angeles County Historical Directory, the ranch would eventually become the towns of San Marino, South Pasadena, and Alhambra. The fanciful name of Alhambra was inspired by Wilson’s daughters Ruth and Marie, who were enthralled with Washington Irving’s historical romance Tales of the Alhambra. Wilson took the novel’s exotic Spanish theme and ran with it. “All the streets also took the names of characters in the novel,” Atkinson writes. “There were Granada, Boabdil, Vega and Almansor.”

Outpost Estates

In 1903, Harrison Gray Otis, publisher of the Los Angeles Times, was looking for a refuge from the bustling Times newsroom and the constant controversy that his brash union-busting, SoCal boostering activities caused. To this end, he purchased twelve acres of land around what is now Sycamore and Franklin Avenues. Nestled in the small country resort of Hollywood, the property already boasted a small adobe that had been built by Don Tomas Urquidez in 1855. Always a fan of militaristic phrases, Otis named his new vacation retreat “The Outpost,” and built himself a chalet and garden, which included a flagpole said to be the “tallest in the country.”

After Otis’s death, “The Outpost” went though different owners, including movie pioneer Jesse Lasky, before ending up the hands of Hollywood developer Charles E. Toberman in 1926. Toberman christened his new development “Outpost Estates,” and began to build upper-middle class homes in the Spanish, Mediterranean, and California modern styles. To promote the development, Toberman erected a large 30-foot high, red neon sign that advertised the “Outpost” neighborhood to all of Los Angeles for years.

A man in a gingham shirt, blue jeans, and cowboy hat rides a white horse on a residential street.AP Photo/Richard Vogel
Methodist settlers originally named Compton “Comptonville.”

In 1867, a wagon train, led by Griffith Dickenson Compton, arrived on a portion of rural land which had once been part of the 75,000-acre Rancho San Pedro. As historian Cecilia Rasmussen notes in the Los Angeles Times, the wagon train consisted of 30 idealistic Methodist settlers. The small community set about building a utopian temperance colony where clean living was encouraged and alcohol was not allowed. According to Atkinson, the new village was originally christened Gibsonville, but soon renamed Comptonville in honor of Griffith Dickenson Compton. By 1869, it was known simply as Compton.

Los Feliz

The story of Los Feliz is as old as the history of Los Angeles itself. Family patriarch Jose Vicente Feliz was a soldier from Sonora, and a member of the legendary Anza expedition. In 1781, he helped lead and guard the original settlers of the pueblo of Los Angeles. He was eventually named de facto mayor and credited as a firm and fair leader. In the 1790s, he was granted more than 6,000 acres of land (which includes Griffith Park, Los Feliz, and portions of what is today Silver Lake) on which to build a ranch. Called Rancho Los Feliz, or the “happy farm,” the estate prospered for decades. The storied Feliz family would not only give their name to the neighborhood that would flourish in the 1920s, they would also supply Los Angeles with some of its best legends and myths.

A street view of a commercial district lined with low-slug shops and restaurants. Signs for businesses include Laurel Tavern and Japanese Restaurant. A center median is populated with mature trees and shrubs.Liz Kuball
Mack Sennett intended to build a true factory town when he developed Studio City.
Studio City

Mack Sennett was a true Hollywood renaissance man. The “King of Comedy” was not only an actor, director, producer, and studio mogul, he was also a real estate dynamo. Around 1926, he teamed up with a new real estate syndicate called the Central Motion Picture District Incorporated (which included investors like the actor Noah Beery and Paramount executive B.P. Schulberg) to develop over 500 acres of San Fernando Valley ranchland. Hoping to bring all “motion picture studios into a single district,” the syndicate struck a deal with Sennett to build a brand-new studio in the Valley. Hoping to create a true factory town, picturesque middle-class homes were planned to surround the studios. The name of this new endeavor? Studio City of course!

El Segundo

Around 1911, scouts for the Standard Oil Company discovered an old coastal melon patch in the South Bay. “The area they were looking for had to be adjacent to the seashore, where tankers could transport oil to all parts of the world,” Atkinson explains. Standard Oil snapped up the melon patch and named it El Segundo, meaning “the second” in Spanish. Some say that the name was inspired by a woman who enthusiastically stated, “El Segundo is second to none.” Others say the company chose this odd numerical name because it would be the home of the second oil refinery that Standard Oil constructed (the first was in Northern California). By 1912, a tent city of workers soon sprang up around the newly constructed refinery, and a community was born. El Segundo was officially incorporated in 1917.

Eagle Rock

Incorporated in 1911, this rustically hip neighborhood in Northeast Los Angeles was home to the Tongva Indians for generations. According to Atkinson, they named a towering large rock now at the north end of Figueroa Street the “The Bird” or the “Eagle Rock.” The rock was so named because of the wing-shaped shadow it cast over the valley below. For generations the rock was used as a landmark and a navigation tool by Native Californians, and later by Spanish and Mexican settlers.

Beverly Hills

According to the Beverly Hills Historical Society, this famed enclave of the rich and famous has gone by several names over the years. The Tongva people called it “the gathering of the waters,” while the Mexican government referred to it as El Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas.

In 1868, this rich, rolling land was purchased by Edward Preuss, who hoped to develop it into a German farming community that would be called Santa Maria. In the 1880s, different developers bought the land with plans to build a neighborhood called Morocco. None of these plans would come to fruition. In 1900, a group of oil industry veterans and businessmen, including Burton E. Green bought the land, hoping to strike oil. They didn’t, but they did strike water, so they decided on the next best thing: a real estate scheme. With plans to build an exclusive, luxury bedroom community, Green came up with the perfect name: Beverly Hills. It is said the name was inspired by the oceanfront community of Beverly Farms in Massachusetts.

Aerial view of palm trees and rooftops of buildings with various heights. In the foreground, radio towers and hills.  Liz Kuball
Some say Hollywood was named for the California holly that grew in the Cahuenga Hills.

In the 1880s, a cultured, elegant woman named Daeida Wilcox was grieving the loss of her little boy. Many Sundays, Daeida and her husband, Harvey, would take long, meditative carriage rides from their home near USC to the rural Cahuenga Valley. The couple so loved the fragrant, arid valley that they bought 120 acres around what is now Hollywood and Vine. They began planning a temperate vacation community for religious, artistic Midwesterners like themselves, who were eager to spend more time in the sun.

While we know Daedia decided to name the new subdivision Hollywood, there are different legends as to why. Some claim that during a train trip Daeida spoke with a woman who told her about her Illinois country estate named “Hollywood.” Others say it was named for the California holly that grew in the Cahuenga Hills. Its ring was undeniable, and in 1887 Harvey Wilcox printed the tract first map for the new community of Hollywood.


For centuries, the area we now know as Malibu was home to the seafaring Chumash. Near the edge of Malibu Canyon, the Chumash built a settlement known as Humaliwo (where “the surf sounds loudly”). Since the Santa Monica Mountains that ringed the coastland made it difficult to reach, the land was not taken by the Spanish until 1802. That year, the Spanish government named the area Rancho Topanga Malibu Sequit, a phonetic interpretation of the Chumash name Humaliwo. Over the years this was shortened to the Malibu Rancho, and finally Malibu, the private fiefdom of the legendary May Rindge.