Zip Codes: 90004, 90005, 90010, 90020, 90036
Within the Greater Wilshire Hancock Park area there are three fairly well defined neighborhoods: Hancock Park, Larchmont Village, and Windsor Square. The area is attests to Los Angeles’ sprawling degrees of history, character, affluence and charm. Hancock Park and Larchmont have remained stylish without being hipster, quaint without being too cutesy and affluent without pretention. With a negligible border between them, Hancock Park and Larchmont Village embody the perfect balance of culture, cuisine, architecture and the community ambience. Before there was such a thing as the ‘west side,’ Hancock Park was home to the Hollywood elite—and it still packs a serious celebrity punch. Bordering Hollywood and K-town, this exclusive neighborhood hosts some of the most impressive mansions in L.A. and its sprawling green lawns and quiet streets make for the perfect lazy Sunday drive. Let’s go explore.
LOCATION AND HISTORY
Hancock Park is located in the eastern portion of the original Rancho La Brea area and was purchased by Major Henry Hancock in 1863. By the early 1900’s the growth along Wilshire Boulevard was mirroring the economic prosperity of Los Angeles as a whole. As a result, an area that was once dirt roads and oils fields blossomed into a concentration of grandly designed commercial buildings surrounded by developments of stately and luxurious homes.
The residential sub-division of Hancock Park was developed by Major Hancock’s son, G. Allan Hancock, in the 1920s. Outstanding architects of the era designed the palatial two-story, single-family residences in various Period Revival styles (including Tudor Revival, English Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival and American Colonial Revival) for influential members of Los Angeles society. You will notice that the vast majority of the residences are set back 50 feet from the street, as insisted upon by G. Allan Hancock, and include side driveways generally leading though a porte cochere to a rear garage.
With quick access to studios, including Paramount which is a stone's throw away across Melrose Avenue, the community's history as a home to stars and other employees of the industry is as old as the neighborhood itself. Keystone Cops chases were filmed on Larchmont Boulevard. The 1936 Three Stooges film False Alarms used both Third Street and Larchmont Boulevard. Today many of the local homes are used to film commercials and movies. The 1983 film War Games utilized a home at Lucerne and Second Street as a major backdrop and set. Past prominent Hancock Park residents have included millionaire Howard Hughes, entertainers Mae West and Nat King Cole, Broadway Department Store magnate Arthur Letts, Jr., and architect William Pereira.
Freeways and Public Transportation
The center of Hancock Park is roughly equidistant to the 101 Freeway to the east and the 10 Freeway to the South. For Metro riders, the Purple line has its final stop at Wilshire and Western.
Within the Greater Wilshire Hancock Park are a few distinct neighborhoods – Hancock Park, Larchmont Village, and Windsor Square. Depending on the source that you check the boundaries for these areas may vary, but they are approximately bounded as noted below.
Nestled between Melrose Ave to the north, Wilshire Blvd to the south, La Brea Avenue to the west and Van Ness to the east lays the historic neighborhood of Hancock Park. With sprawling tree-lined rows of imposing historic family homes the suburban strip is a stones-throw away from the buzzing Larchmont Village and Windsor Square.
Located to the south of Hollywood and east of Hancock Park, Larchmont Village lies tucked into the heart of Los Angeles' urban quilt. Although the neighborhood lies wholly within Windsor Square, and serves as Windsor Square's "main street," it is commonly thought of as a distinct district. Serenely detached from the surrounding hustle, it has, for the most part, escaped the attention of the larger world. Remarkably, too, it has held back time, retaining the scale and feel of the small town of Larchmont, N.Y., for which it was named in the early 1920s.
Larchmont Village itself is centered on Larchmont Boulevard between Beverly Boulevard and 3rd Street and its businesses depend heavily on foot traffic; Dawson's Bookshop celebrated its centennial last year while Chevalier's Books provides individual recommendations. There are also restaurants, specialty clothing boutiques, coffee shops, a juice store, a video store, bagel shops, spas, an ice cream store, a pet store, a major newsstand, a confectionary that specializes in Belgian chocolates and Landis, a general store that dates back to the 1920s.
The English flavor is very much alive and the street names reflect this with Irving, Windsor and Plymouth. The original "Square" ran from Wilshire Boulevard to Third Street, and from Plymouth Blvd. to Irving Blvd and was later expanded to the north, east, and west. Today, Windsor Square runs from Wilshire to Beverly Boulevards, and from Arden Boulevard to Van Ness Avenue. This is inclusive of the one-block strip of Larchmont Village, between First Street and Beverly Boulevard.
Windsor Square is often mistakenly called ‘Hancock Park,’ even by long-time residents. But in fact, Hancok Park is immediately to the west. Windsor Square's homes have the same historic value as in Hancock Park, but most of the homes are built on bigger lots. With 1,100 homes, and it is one of the oldest, most well preserved neighborhoods in Los Angeles. It has broad lawns, mature trees and central location five miles west of downtown and is a garden oasis in the heart of Los Angeles.
The Marlborough School for Girls, just three streets over from Larchmont and on Rossmore Avenue, is one of the most prestigious all-girls schools in Los Angeles.
Dine, Hang Out, Shop and Stuff
One of the area's allures, for locals and outsiders alike, is the quaint Larchmont Village commercial strip. It's an urban melting pot with a diverse array of quintessential shops; bookstores, clothes boutiques, eateries, and coffee shops etc. Here are some worth checking out:
Larchmont’s Farmers Market
Admittedly there are Farmer’s Markets and then there is Larchmont Village’s European Style Farmer’s Market; a treat for all senses in every sense. Casablanca lilies, bonsai trees, organic Asian vegetables and homemade apple pies are among the treats for sale and your Sunday mornings will never be quite the same. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays, farmers, craft-people, bakers and dozens of other vendors fill the city parking lot on Larchmont Blvd. between Beverly and First streets. It’s a Sunday morning must.
Larchmont Village has it all except…there’s not a Whole Foods Market in sight! However Café Gratitude makes up for any whole hole. It always buzzing with health-conscious patrons tucking in and drinking up menu items named “I am Humble” and “I am Grateful” for example. This is definitely the place to say “I am Hungry” and you will be relieved in the best possible way. It is known as one of the best vegan hotspots in town and their facon (fake bacon) tastes like the real deal. Arrive with an open mind and be ready with your own personal affirmation of gratitude before ordering.
While you might love your nook there’s nothing that’s quite the substitute for some good ‘ol tight binding. Chevalier’s Books is quaint, original and charming with a vast selection in comparison to other smaller bookstores. Purchase your classics with some sentiment (and a bookmark) thrown in for free. If you want to support local then this is the shop to go to peruse and purchase from. Forget Borders (well, we’ve all forgotten about them already) and move over Amazon – Chevalier’s really do things by the book.
Perfect for an informal breakfast, a tasty lunch, or an elegant dinner, Café Parisien continues the great tradition of French comfort food with hearty family favorites, country-style sandwiches and quiches, and our house signature mussels. They also offer a carefully curated selection of beers, wines and aperitifs.
Landis Gifts and Stationary
This shop is a mecca for the stationary snob and you definitely will not be stationery as you are browsing their impressive selection. The staff is exceptionally knowledgeable and the service is as impeccable as it is timely; they can get invitations printed very expeditiously. They have plenty of charming lines that are cute and relaxed as well, plus blank papers, Moleskine notebooks, and cool Asian paper journals. Landis also sells the full Filofax line. You'll also find cool little gifts- great paperweights, keychains, small books- and the "general store" part has everthing. This is the type of store that gives Larchmont its "village" feel.
Salt & Straw and Jeni’s Ice Cream
It’s very, very hard to say which of these craft ice cream shops is better. But the good thing is, they’re on the same block! Have both and decide for yourself.
A neighborhood Italian restaurant where old-school melds with new-school Italian. Chef Steve Vernetti shares his passion for fresh, delicious Italian food made simply, with the best ingredients.
Morning Glory. Dawson Tate. Peace Maker. Aw Shoot. Goorin Bros has the coolest names ever for their hats. That’s because the hats themselves are super cool. They’ve got every style under the sun - and, which they protect you from.
Groundwork Coffee and Go Get Em Tiger
I like supporting the little guys - especially when they’re good. Groundwork and Go Get Em Tiger are both a fantastic joints to spend an hour or two, sipping good, hot coffee.
Lemonade is a favorite of mine because it checks off five boxes, with very high marks in each category: it’s fast, fresh, delicious, healthy, affordable.
PARKS AND RECREATION
Wilshire Country Club
It can be put(t) many ways, but this 18 hole regulation length course, founded in 1919, is a private golf club located in Hancock Park. This country club is a historical landmark in Hancock Park but it is for members-only so no drop-ins allowed. In that case you’d definitely need to join the club.
Greater Wilshire - Hancock Park residents are zoned to the following LAUSD schools:
· Van Ness Avenue Elementary
· Third Street Elementary
· Wilshire Crest Elementary
· Queen Anne Place Elementary
· Wilshire Park Elementary
· Vine Street Elementary
· Charles H. Kim Elementary
· John Burroughs Middle
· Hubert Howe Bancroft
· Joseph Le Conte
· Fairfax Senior High
· Los Angeles Senior High
· Helen Bernstein High
Weber House – 3923 W. 9th St. Lloyd Wright 1921
For fans of Lloyd Wright, the Weber House is of particular interest because it is his first realized building in Los Angeles. The modified Prairie style design, with art-glass windows with geometric patterns, is a modest 1900 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, plus a guest cottage. It was last sold in 2002.
Reynolds House - 200 Rimpau Blvd. John Woolf 1958
An architect who was noted for a style dubbed California Regency, John Woolf designed simple modern mansions that owed, in part, inspiration to French and Southern Neoclassical styles with plenty of Mansard roofs and Greco-Roman columns. A familiar style today, his homes, or ones that imitate his, can be found throughout L.A. The Reynolds house features a hallmark of his style, favored in a bygone era (though still impressive), the towering, arched front door.
Smith House - 2nd St & Hudson Ave Clarence J. Smale 1929-30
Art Deco is commonly found in large buildings - apartments, theaters, hotels, etc. It's rare to find an Art Deco single family residence. But the Smith House in Hancock Park is one and it's a beauty. This is Zig-Zag Moderne is extremely elegant and one can easily imagine Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers rehearsing a dance routine within its walls.
Gless House - Plymouth Blvd & 6th Street Arthur Heineman 1913
Much like the Weber House noted above, the lines of the Gless House and its use of art glass shows hints of Frank Lloyd Wright. The house was moved to its present location in the 1930's.
Beckman House - 357 N. Citrus Ave. Gregory Ain 1938
Ain once said "Architecture took a long time to get around to the small house". In an area that is known for palatial estates, the Beckman House is diminutive. But its smart, graceful lines still demand attention. A nice example of Ain’s early work in the International style, influenced by Neutra and Schindler. Not visible from the street is the home's pinwheel-shaped plan with seven rooms having access to outdoor living spaces. The home was reportedly given a sensitive restoration by its owners in the early 2000’s. It was built in 1938 for $9,250.
El Royale Apartments - 450 Rossmore Ave. William Douglas Lee 1929
The grandest of the apartment buildings that line Rossmore Ave, El Royale, has been an exclusive home the upper crust for decades. Actors including Clark Gable, Loretta Young, William Faulkner, Cameron Diaz, Ben Stiller, Judd Apatow, Uma Thurman, Jack Black, Ellen Page, and Josh Brolin have all lived at the El Royale. It’s sister structure, the Chateau Marmont, was also designed by Lee.
Eva K. Fudger House - 211 S. Muirfield Rd. Roland E. Coate 1926
This may be more aptly called the Howard Hughes House because shortly after the 30-room hacienda was completed, Mrs. Fudger, rented it and its furnishings to him - for the outrageous sum of $1,000 a month. And in 1929 he paid Mrs. Fudger an equally astronomical figure of $115,000 for the house and $35,000 for the furnishings.
Verbeck Mansion - 637 S. Lucerne Blvd. John C. Austin 1902
Oh the stories this home can tell. Originally built at Wilshire and Rampart Boulevards, it was moved (in 3 parts!) to its present location by the second owner in 1924. Subsequent to this it was used as a mission, a retirement home for nuns, and office space. In the 1980’s it was sold again and restored by the owners. And in 2017 given yet another overhaul with a modernizing of the interior.
Mauretania Apartments - 520 N. Rossmore Ave - J. Milton Black 1934
This is a super-cool example of Streamline Moderne architecture. And it’s history is pretty cool as well. The 10-unit apartment was built actor Jack Haley, better known as the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. It also was the summer home of John F. Kennedy in 1960 during the Democratic National Convention. T
Leistikow House - 554 S. Lorraine Blvd. Paul R. Williams 1923
Built during the first year of Williams’ practice, this brick English style home reflects the evolving aesthetic of wealthier buyers who were moving starting to move away from the popular Spanish style homes. The large, front-facing window that climbs along the stairwell is a lovely focal point of the home’s design.
Van Nuys House - 357 S. Lorraine Blvd. Frederick L. Roehrig 1898
Built by Isaac Newton Van Nuys (yes, the namesake of the neighborhood in the valley), its original location was in the Westlake neighborhood. In 1914 it was moved to its current location by his son, J. Benton Van Nuys. Built in the Queen Anne style, this 12,565 square foot home features hand-carved walls, leaded and stained-glass windows, a library, a ballroom, and a hidden bar room with separate entrance.