April 20, 2024

Delving into the Rich History of Beverly Hills Real Estate

3 min read
beverly hills realestate

Beverly Hills real estate is renowned as one of the most luxurious and sought-after in the world. High-net-worth individuals always make a point to invest in a property here, from international A-list actors to royalty. And while the Beverly Hills of the 21st century is just as grand, what makes the city and its housing market all the more interesting is its rich history. 

EARLY BEGINNINGS

Before Beverly Hills, there was only a Tongva settlement. In a region that was hot and semi-arid, this Native American tribe came to live in the area because it had water. This gave rise to what they called their home: the gathering of the waters.

Their peace was eventually broken by the arrival of the Europeans. The Spaniard Gaspar de Portolá and his troops were the first to arrive in 1769. Unfortunately, they brought then-unknown diseases with them, which contributed to the Tongva population’s decline. By 1838, the 4,500-acre Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas was granted to Maria Rita Valdez Villa, an African-Mexican woman and widow of a Spanish soldier. She ultimately decided to sell the ranch in 1854 to Henry Hancock and Benjamin Wilson. By the time of the sale, however, most of the water that gathered in the area had been used or dried up.

Another sale passed the ranch onto the hands of Edward Preuss. He transformed the cattle ranch into a lima bean farm. Eventually, the ranch became the property of the Amalgamated Oil Company. Burton E. Green, one of the investors, renamed the area as Beverly Hills along with his wife.

THE GOLDEN AGE

By the 20th century, the Amalgamated Oil Company refashioned itself as the Rodeo Land and Water Company. They didn’t think Beverly Hills was suited for agriculture, so they decided to divide the land into parcels for sale. Charles A. Canfield, another investor, was reported to have said, “Make the best subdivision that man can make, regardless of the cost.” 

And so they did. The company hired Wilbur Cook to design Beverly Hills’ streets. Horticulturalists were called in to make the area green with local fauna. The entire development was divided into three sections: the hilltops, which were reserved for the wealthy’s luxury estates; the north of the tracks, which was designed to attract middle-class buyers; and the south of the tracks, where urban blocks were less restricted.

The first home in Beverly Hills was sold in 1907. In order to boost the area’s popularity, Green ordered the construction of the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel in 1911; it was finished just a year after. This project, along with a well-planned marketing campaign, succeeded. By 1914, Beverly Hills’ population had grown enough for it to qualify as an incorporated city. Even better, Hollywood couple Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks purchased 1143 Summit Drive, which is now known as the legendary Pickfair estate in 1918. It wasn’t long before more stars, directors, and producers invested in their own piece of Beverly Hills real estate.

Other notable real estate development– residential and commercial– during this period of Beverly Hills history include:

  • The Greystone Mansion (Built in 1928. Architect: Gordon Kaufmann)
  • Beverly Wilshire Hotel (Built in 1928. Original architects: Walker & Eisen. 1940s renovation: Paul R. Williams)
  • Beverly Hills City Hall (Built in 1932. Architects: William J. Gage, Harry G. Koerner)

CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS & MODERNIZATION

Up until the 1940s, Beverly Hills real estate had strict covenants that disabled businessmen and African-Americans to buy homes in the city. These covenants were declared unenforceable by the US Supreme Court in 1948, which made the population more diverse.

Post-war attitudes also brought a shift to housing needs and architectural preferences. Apartment buildings were created, as well as court homes and other multi-family dwellings. Modern architects such as Harold Levitt and A. Quincy Jones made their own contributions to the city landscape, creating an impressive collection of mid-century modern homes and buildings. Some of their work can still be seen in Trousdale Estates.

Beverly Hills also further developed its cultural and commercial spaces, including Rodeo Drive, the Paley Center for Media, and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Today, Beverly Hills real estate remains as glamorous as ever, recording consistent high appreciation rates. If you’re looking for a real estate investment that will stand the test of time, this is the best place to purchase. 

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