Historical Areas (HPOZs)
While many outsiders may view Los Angeles as an imposing megalopolis, it is truly a city of great neighborhoods. Just slightly off the beaten path, in communities throughout the city, are remarkably intact historic neighborhoods.
Recognizing the need to identify and protect neighborhoods with distinct architectural and cultural resources, the City has developed an expansive program of Historic Preservation Overlay Zones (HPOZs). HPOZs, commonly known as historic districts, provide for review of proposed exterior alterations and additions to historic properties within designated districts.
Following text adapted from descriptions prepared by the Los Angeles Conservancy.
At the turn of the 20th century the West Adams–Normandie area was one of Los Angeles’ most prestigious communities. Subdivided in 1902 by eminent Pasadena developer and builder George W. Stimson, the location attracted many socially prominent individuals seeking suburban ambiance adjacent to the downtown area. Percy H. Clark, one of the primary real estate developers of Beverly Hills, built many of the custom homes in the neighborhood, including his own residence on Van Buren Place. Overall, the architecture of the HPOZ represents the Arts and Crafts aesthetic of the early teens and features several large groupings of Shingle and Craftsman style residences. Van Buren Place Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is located in the heart of the HPOZ.
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Often called Los Angeles' first suburb, the hilltop residential area of Angelino Heights lies two miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, near the communities of Echo Park and Silver Lake. The area was planned as a respectable, genteel Victorian neighborhood for Los Angeles' late 19th century upper-middle class. The first designated HPOZ in the city, Angelino Heights contains some of the best remaining examples of Victorian-era architectural styles in Los Angeles, as well as later examples of Craftsman and Mission Revival styles. Located within the HPOZ, the 1300 block of Carroll Avenue is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and contains the highest concentration of 19th century Victorian homes in Los Angeles.
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The Balboa Highlands HPOZ, located in the community of Granada Hills in the North San Fernando Valley, is the first post-World War II neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley to achieve historic district status. Balboa Highlands was constructed from 1962-64 by developer Joseph Eichler, who built thousands of homes in Northern California. It is one of only three Eichler tracts in Southern California (the other two are located in the City of Orange and in Thousand Oaks), and the only Eichler development in Los Angeles County. Its homes were built around an atrium accessed through sliding-glass doors, blurring indoor and outdoor space. Designed by noted architects A. Quincy Jones, Frederick Emmons, and Claude Oakland, Balboa Highlands represents an outstanding example of Mid-Century Modern residential architecture.
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Banning Park HPOZ is located near the Port of Los Angeles in the Wilmington community. The area comprising the HPOZ was originally part of the estate of General Phineas Banning, the “father of Wilmington,” an early developer of the port of San Pedro and a railroad tycoon. In 1927, William Wrigley Jr., of chewing gum fame, purchased a portion of the estate, now known as Banning Park, and developed the area with residences to house employees of Wilmington businesses. The architectural cohesiveness of this neighborhood can be attributed to locally prominent architect Sid Spearin, who called the development the “Original Court of Nation” and based his residential designs on Period Revival styles including Spanish, Dutch, American Colonial and Tudor Revival.
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J. Harvey McCarthy developed Carthay Circle, originally called Carthay Center, between 1922 and 1944. He envisioned the neighborhood, named after a variation of his surname, as a complete community with a church, elementary school, hotel, theater, commercial center and a variety of housing opportunities. Captivated by California history, McCarthy named the streets in honor of prominent figures of the California Gold Rush. Carthay Circle was the first subdivision in Los Angeles to be planned with underground utilities, maintaining the streetscape free of the clutter of telephone poles and electric wires. The architecture of this primarily residential HPOZ is dominated by the Spanish Colonial Revival style, in keeping with its founder’s fascination with California history, although examples of the Tudor, French, and American Colonial Revival styles can also be found. Once home to the famed Carthay Circle Theater, site of such film premieres as Snow White and Gone with the Wind, the multicolor tiled circular dome atop the theater tower and the circular auditorium inspired the community to change the name from “Carthay Center” to “Carthay Circle.”
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Country Club Park
With a large number of buildings dating to the earliest phases of Los Angeles’ development, Country Club Park is an intact residential district with distinct visual character. Constructed adjacent to the streetcar line that stretched along Pico Street (now Boulevard), the area was originally located at the western edge of the City and housed some of Los Angeles’ most prominent citizens. As the area matured in the 1920s boom years, vacant lots were fi lled by homes constructed in the latest architectural styles: Craftsman, Tudor Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, Colonial Revival and Mediterranean Revival. Despite some infi ll that occurred in the years following World War II, the area remains mostly intact. In addition to a large number of buildings dating to the fi rst three decades of the twentieth century, the area retains other visual features that tie it to that era of residential development in Los Angeles. Mature street trees line the avenues, and broad lawns and landscaped parking strips front the residences in parts of the neighborhood.
Gregory Ain Mar Vista Tract
Gregory Ain Mar Vista Tract, also known as Mar Vista Housing, is located in the western portion of the City of Los Angeles and consists of 52 parcels designed by architect Gregory Ain in the Modern style. Built in 1948, this one-story single family residential development was shaped by the Fair Housing Administration’s desire to promote home ownership among modest-income families and the need to accommodate the growing number of defense/aircraft industry employees. Ain’s design of the Mar Vista tract achieved individuality through his ingenious placement of standard architectural elements, variations in setback and entrance location, as well as the imaginative integration of building and landscape design. Landscape architect Garrett Eckbo used a large number of planting materials from varying climates to create a park-like atmosphere along the streets, opening up space between houses to allow for more spatial social interaction, as opposed to creating boundaries and fences. These unique design elements allowed the Advance Development Agency to market Mar Vista Housing as “Modernique” to exemplify the development’s modern and unique design features. The Mar Vista Tract is the City’s first post-World War II HPOZ.
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Hancock Park, located in the eastern portion of the original Rancho La Brea area, was purchased by Major Henry Hancock in 1863. The residential subdivision 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, Mediterranean Revival, Monterey Revival, and American Colonial Revival) for influential members of Los Angeles society. 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. 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.
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Harvard Heights HPOZ is predominantly characterized by two-story Craftsman-style residences built from 1902 to 1908. The large and somewhat grand scale of architecture is due to a land covenant that stipulated that houses built within the tract cost more than $2,500, a substantial sum at the turn of the century. The location of the only existing Greene and Greene designed house in the city of Los Angeles, the neighborhood also features the work of the famous Heineman brothers as well as notable West Adams architect Frank Tyler. The HPOZ boundaries include modest commercial buildings located along the edges of the neighborhood.
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The Highland Park-Garvanza HPOZ is located northeast of downtown Los Angeles, in the Arroyo Seco. Local institutions, including Occidental College and Judson Studios, and personalities such as Charles Lummis, founder of the California Landmarks Club, heavily influenced the development of this scenic community. The largest of the city’s HPOZs, Highland Park-Garvanza encompasses approximately 4,000 structures (including over fifty Los Angeles City Historic-Cultural Monuments) and was the first HPOZ to include commercial buildings. The architecture of Highland Park-Garvanza encompasses nearly every style popular from the 1880s through the 1940s – Queen Anne, Shingle, Craftsman, Mission Revival and Tudor Revival. The influence of the Arts and Crafts movement, which flourished in the Highland Park area, is particularly evidenced by the wealth of Craftsman-style residences.
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Hollywood Grove is a small neighborhood comprised of Turn-of-the-20th-Century houses in the foothills of the Hollywood Hills. The neighborhood, a collection of Craftsman and American Colonial Revival bungalows (with noticeable number of Period Revival houses as well), stands out as a strong indication of what a typical residential subdivision once looked like in the Hollywood community. Wide front yards with lush landscaping, front porches that embrace the sun, and views of rolling mountains and the ubiquitous Hollywood Sign make this former avocado grove an indelible part of Los Angeles’ history. (Hollywood Grove Survey Map forthcoming).
Often referred to by locals as “The Bungalows,” the Jefferson Park neighborhood is perhaps one of the City’s finest examples of both an early street car suburb, and the proliferation of the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 1900s, in the form of simple, yet elegant, single-story bungalows for the growing middle class. Fanciful eaves, intricate wood work, turrets, stone, masonry and shingle are displayed in ways that defy the modest scale of these houses and make the many streets of this vast district instantly charming. A significant number of Jefferson Park houses were built using prefabricated kits or plan books produced by the likes of Sears and Pacific Ready-Cut Homes. In addition to its celebrated architecture, Jefferson Park has long embodied the ethnic and cultural diversity for which Los Angeles is known. Upon the elimination of racially restrictive covenants in the 1940s Jefferson Park found instant favor with African American and Japanese American families and while the neighborhood demographics today are substantially more diverse, many of the business and institutions along Adams and Jefferson Boulevards and Western Avenue, within the HPOZ, reflect the contributions of these predominant communities.
Lafayette Square was the last and greatest of banker George L. Crenshaw’s ten residential developments in the city of Los Angeles. Since Crenshaw wanted this development to have a European flair it was designed as an elegant residential park centered on St. Charles Place, a broad palm-lined avenue with a landscaped median. Early residents of Lafayette Square included the founder of Pepperdine University, George Pepperdine, actors W.C. Fields and Fatty Arbuckle, art collector Norton Simon, boxer Joe Louis, and the Crenshaw family. Houses in Lafayette Square reflect residential styles popular during the 1910s and 1920s such as Craftsman, Italianate, Spanish Colonial Revival, and American Colonial Revival. Several houses, such as architect Paul Williams’ own home, were designed in the Modern style, exemplifying an important trend in Los Angeles’ architectural development.
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Lincoln Heights, subdivided in 1873, is one of Los Angeles’ first residential suburbs. Lincoln Heights was originally named “East Los Angeles” and is located northeast of downtown. To ensure the success of this early community, water pipes were installed at a considerable expense by Dr. John Strolher Griffin, William H. Workman, and John Gates Downey. In 1876, Griffin and Downey established one of the city’s first streetcar lines to connect the East Los Angeles subdivision with downtown. Houses in Lincoln Heights vary in architecture and include examples of Victorian-era, Arts and Crafts, and Period Revival styles. The majority of residences were not architect-designed, but builder/contractor or homeowner constructed, and housed working- and middle-class families.
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Melrose Hill HPOZ is a small gem of a neighborhood that illustrates why Los Angeles is known as “the bungalow capital of the world.” The modest single-family homes of this tree-shaded community were built between 1911 and 1926, at the height of the popularity of the California bungalow. Nearly half of its 45 residences were designed and constructed by the Briggs Company, whose president, Sidney L. Briggs, was the principal motivator for the subdivision and development of the area.
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Miracle Mile North
Miracle Mile North HPOZ primarily consists of single-family residences which are uniform in scale, massing and setbacks. The majority of the one-story houses were built from 1924 to 1941 and reflect the Period Revival architectural styles of the time. While more than half the homes represent the Spanish Colonial Revival style, Tudor and American Colonial Revival styles can also be found. Prominent architects Paul Williams and Morgan, Walls and Clements and contractor Spyros Ponty (of South Carthay fame) designed houses for the neighborhood. Though small, the HPOZ features two City Historic–Cultural Monuments.
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Pico-Union HPOZ is located in central Los Angeles. Prior to the turn of the century, single-family residences in the area featured a broad range of architectural styles including late 19th century Victorian-era cottages, early 20th century Craftsman and Mission Revival bungalows and larger homes in Period Revival or Classical styles. Many of the houses were designed by known architects and builders of the period such as Frank Tyler, Hunt and Burns, Stiles O. Clements, and Elmer Grey. Today, Pico-Union is a neighborhood of great ethnic and socioeconomic diversity with a mixture of single-family and multi-family housing. Alvarado Terrace Historic District and Bonnie Brae Historic District, both listed in the National Register of Historic Places, are located within the HPOZ.
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South Carthay HPOZ is located on the site of the former vegetable fields for Ralph’s Market. Residential development in the area began during the early 1930s. Almost half of the single-family dwellings in South Carthay were designed and built by Greek developer Spyros George Ponty, who built homes throughout Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. Ponty and other contractors constructed homes in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. The characteristic use of low-pitched red tile roofs, arched doors and windows, and smooth stucco exterior finishes provides visual continuity and cohesiveness to the neighborhood. South Carthay residences are exceptional for their quality construction, skilled craftsmanship, decorative detailing, and individuality — no two homes are exactly alike.
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A neighborhood of modest one-story Period Revival styles houses built between 1916 and 1926, Spaulding Square was named after real estate speculator Albert Starr Spaulding who purchased and subdivided the land in 1914. Spaulding attracted buyers to the area using a “lecture and lunch” strategy whereby interested buyers received a free streetcar ride, a meal, and a talk on the endless possibilities of the area. Sales were also fueled by the rise of the film industry. The neighborhood location off Sunset Boulevard—fast becoming the major route between studios in Hollywood and stars’ homes in Beverly Hills—made it an appealing place for film technicians and up-and-coming actors to settle. Actress Lucille Ball and director Hugo Hass both lived in the area.
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The Stonehurst HPOZ is comprised of 92 homes in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, in the community of Sun Valley. Many of the structures were built between 1923 and 1925 by Dan Montelongo, a local artisan and stonemason, using stone selected from the nearby washes and foothills of the Tujunga Valley. The neighborhood boasts the highest concentration in Los Angeles of homes utilizing native river rock as a primary building material. Many of these homes were designed in a "Stonemason Vernacular" style that is a derivative of Craftsman architecture. Stonehurst homes are frequently small bungalows on large lots, often on horse-keeping or animal-keeping properties, giving this neighborhood a unique, rustic character among Los Angeles' historic districts.
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The development of University Park as a residential area was spurred by the founding of the nearby University of Southern California in 1880, and bolstered by the extension of the streetcar routes from downtown Los Angeles in 1891. Prominent citizens, lured by the large lots and suburban ambiance, migrated south from Bunker Hill to build large mansions alongside existing modest houses in the neighborhood. With residences built between 1885 and the 1920s, the HPOZ includes fine examples of the 19th century Queen Anne style as well as later Craftsman, Spanish Colonial Revival, and American Colonial Revival styles. University Park contains one of the highest concentrations of City Historic–Cultural Monuments of any HPOZ in Los Angeles. Two historic districts listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Twentieth Street and Saint James Park, as well as the National Register eligible Chester Place Historic District, are located within the boundaries of the HPOZ.
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Van Nuys HPOZ is located in the center of the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, and is the first Valley HPOZ. Van Nuys includes some of the earliest residential development in the Valley. The construction of single family residences began in 1911 and early architecture reflected the Craftsman and Colonial Revival styles. In the 1920s, the dominant local industry was poultry farming, which required land plots to be very deep to allow for the construction of chicken houses at the rear of the property. At this time, preferences in architectural styles shifted to Spanish Colonial Revival and English Revival. In the 1930s, preferences changed once again and Minimal Traditional became the prevailing architectural style. In the late 1930s to the 1950s, the California Ranch style dominated residential designs. Van Nuys HPOZ exemplifies the evolution of early residential architecture of the growing San Fernando Valley.
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Vinegar Hill, an early suburb of San Pedro, is a neighborhood of tree-lined streets and modest single-family houses built by successful San Pedro businessmen. It is rumored that Vinegar Hill is named for a local cottage industry of home-brewed sour wine. The neighborhood residences, built from 1886 through 1927, housed the area’s diverse immigrant population and include examples of Queen Anne, American Foursquare and Craftsman styles alongside later American Colonial and Spanish Colonial Revival styles.
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West Adams Terrace
Located in south Los Angeles, West Adams Terrace includes subdivisions with large and lavish homes originally designed for wealthy middle-class families as well as other tracts developed for the working class. The first significant wave of residential development in West Adams consisted of businessmen and their families, who wanted to move out of central Los Angeles, yet remain within easy commuting distance of downtown. Single family homes in the HPOZ range in size and style from modest Victorian-era cottages to early 20th century Craftsman and Mission Revival bungalows to larger Period Revival and Classical styles. Many of the houses were designed by recognized architects and builders including Frank Tyler, Hunt and Burns, Frank Meline, Paul R. Williams, and E.L. Petitfils.
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Located just north of the Santa Monica Freeway in Historic West Adams, Western Heights HPOZ is an architecturally diverse enclave filled with custom built homes and modest commercial buildings dating from the turn of the 20th century. The residential streets are characterized by two and two-and-one-half story single family residences in architectural styles including Queen Anne, Craftsman, Tudor Revival, and Spanish Colonial Revival, designed by some of the most prominent architects of Los Angeles, such as Myron Hunt and Paul Williams. The commercial part of the HPOZ along Washington Boulevard features fine examples of the Streamline Moderne style as well as commercial adaptations of the Spanish Colonial Revival style. Much of the community’s architectural integrity remains intact despite the construction of the Santa Monica Freeway.
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Whitley Heights is located in Hollywood, east of the Hollywood Bowl, occupying an area of lush hilly terrain to the north of Franklin Avenue. H.W. Whitley, who also helped develop Reseda, Van Nuys, and Hollywood, considered Whitley Heights his “crowning achievement.” Employing architect A.S. Barnes, Whitley sent him to tour and study the architecture and landscaping of the Mediterranean. Barnes designed the majority of the residences in Whitley Heights from 1918 to 1928, and recreated the ambiance of a Mediterranean village. The beauty and seclusion of Whitley Heights’ architecture and terrain quickly made it the home of Hollywood’s elite: Rudolph Valentino, Tyrone Power, Gloria Swanson, Rosalind Russell, Judy Garland, and Marlene Dietrich all called it home. Unfortunately, the construction of the Hollywood Freeway divided the original layout of the neighborhood and destroyed many houses. However, the use of the Spanish Colonial Revival style in Whitley Heights led the way for the popularity of this architectural style throughout Los Angeles. Whitley Heights Historic District is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
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Located about five miles west of downtown Los Angeles, Wilshire Park is a neighborhood of 527 properties that has maintained a high degree of historic integrity: 74% of the neighborhood's homes are "contributing structures" to the HPOZ. Wilshire Park grew quickly after its first house appeared in 1907, spurred by the expansion of the downtown business district, new choices in methods of transportation, the development of Wilshire Boulevard, social change precipitated by war, and a speculative boom in the late 1910s and early 1920s. By 1926, there was a home on almost every lot. The houses vary in architectural styles, ranging from the early 20th century Craftsman, Prairie, and Mediterranean derivatives to Colonial Revival, Spanish Colonial Revival, and Los Angeles' largest collection of Dutch Colonial Revival. The Wilshire Park HPOZ also includes a range of housing types, from large two-story homes with expensive improvements to one-story bungalows.
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Windsor Square, located in central Los Angeles, was once part of Rancho La Brea on land that was subdivided for development in 1911. The Windsor Square Investment Company’s vision for development was a neighborhood of elegant homes, with lots of no less than 100 feet frontage and over 300 feet in width. Windsor Square was planned to be the most exclusive neighborhood in Southern California and the largest upper-class subdivision ever marketed in Los Angeles. Residences in Windsor Square represent various periods of development and a variety of architectural styles. Early residences feature examples of the Craftsman and Beaux Arts or Classical Revival styles while later residences reflect the popularity of Period Revival styles including Spanish Colonial, Mediterranean, Tudor, English, French, and American Colonial Revival styles. Contemporary and California Ranch styles are also represented in Windsor Square.
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Windsor Village is an intact residential district with distinct visual character. Originally ubdivided for residential development adjacent to the streetcar lines, early twentieth-century Windsor Village was sparsely populated with it mostly undeveloped compared to neighboring streets until the 1920s and 30s. At this time, with the automobile reigning as the primary mode of transportation in the City, Windsor Village’s adjacency to Wilshire Boulevard made it a fashionable location for single- and multiplefamily residential development. Windsor Village, which was in the pre-World War II era often associated by proximity to such upscale tracts as Windsor Square, found its own identity in the 1960s with the formation of Windsor Park (now Harold A. Henry Park) at the heart of the neighborhood. The continued commercialization of Crenshaw and Olympic Boulevard gave it natural boundaries, and the Windsor Village neighborhood name began to appear in the 1970s.