This installment of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Blog concerns Wilshire Park. Vote here to vote in the Neighborhoods of Los Angeles Blog Poll (NLABP) and/or here for the Los Angeles County Community Blog Poll (LACCBP). To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.
The bulk of the neighborhood is made up of a variety of architectural styles including American Craftsman, California Bungalow, Colonial Revival, Dutch Colonial, Mediterranean, Spanish Colonial and Victorian-Craftsman Transitional styles. The first home built in the neighborhood was in 1908 and most of the rest were built between the ‘10s and ‘30s. A number are listed as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmarks.
Although a few Wilshire Park residents have accepted the realities of California and thus xeriscaped their lawns, many of the homeowners attempted to transplant the appearance of where they’d come from to the area and a large number of the homes still feature rose gardens and lush, green lawns. If not for the palm trees, the large magnolias and oaks, the sycamore-shaded neighborhood could pass for somewhere in the Middle West.
Doris Eaton Helen Lee Worthing Mildred Harris
Much of the neighborhood looks much as it must’ve in the silent film era, when it was home to many stars. Doris Eaton, Helen Lee Worthing, and Mildred Harris all lived there. In 1925, a chase scene in the Buster Keaton film, Seven Chances, took place at Olympic and Bronson.
Situated three miles south of downtown Hollywood and five miles west of downtown Los Angeles, the Mid-Wilshire area was in a prime position in the 1930s and it was at the peak of its association with the film industry, leading to the area being known as “The Upper East Side of the West Coast.” The Ambassador Hotel, the Brown Derby, the Cocoanut Grove club, Perino’s and the Wiltern Theater were/are attractions which no doubt contributed to the association.
Harry James Louise Tobin Joseph L. Mankiewicz Jules Dassin
In the pre-war era, the neighborhood was also home to bandleader Harry James and his wife, singer Louise Tobin, lived there as well as violinist Jan Rubini and screenwriter Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Following World War II, the southland population largely moved to the suburbs. In the 1940s and ’50s, though most of the Hollywood crowd had moved away from the city center, Wilshire Park was still home to several notables. Don McLaughlin, star of old time radio program Counterspy lived on Norton Avenue. Screenwriter/director Jules Dassin lived on Bronson.
In the 1960s, The Douglas Family house in My Three Sons was shot there (837 5th Ave). More recently, the neighborhood was a shooting location in Crossing Over.
Eric Brightwell is a writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities; however, job offers must pay more than slave wages and involve neither listicles nor television personalities. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in Amoeblog, diaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His art has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, theArchitecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art Museum, and 1650 Gallery. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. Brightwell has been featured as subject in the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, and Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.