GE 66: Seeing Sunset, Learning Los Angeles 1 BEVERLY HILLSFor a profile of the Beverly Hills today, see the Los Angeles Times’ Mapping L.A. project at . Primary Author: Janice L. Reiff BUSNOTES: As you ride through Beverly Hills, you will notice that the trip is probably faster than through other areas. You may also have the sense that there is relatively little to see from the bus. Several factors may help to account for both impressions. First, bus traffic is relatively light through Beverly Hills. Although people who work in Beverly Hills may be likely to use public transportation, those who live there are less likely to do so. As a result, stops are relatively infrequent compared to areas, especially further east. Second, Sunset Boulevard passes through the least commercial and near the most expensive residential parts of the city. That fact, combined with the mature foliage and a strong desire for privacy on the part of many home owners, means that you are as likely to see fences, walls, and other barriers as you are to see the homes behind them. SUNSETNOTES: It is important to consider Sunset’s place among the east-west traffic arteries in Beverly Hills as you consider the city’s evolution and what you see as you pass through. Santa Monica Boulevard had served as the roadbed for the trains running from downtown to Santa Monica in the 1870s. The street that would become Wilshire Boulevard was already targeted as Santa Maria’s main street even though it was then called Los Angeles Street. By the time the Rodeo Land and Water Company started thinking about the roads for its new town, Gaylord Wilshire had already laid out his own elite subdivision nearer downtown and had donated land for a broad thoroughfare westward along the route used by the Tongva and Spanish explorers. It was to bear his name and railroads and commercial and industrial trucking were to be prohibited. As Los Angeles grew out from the center, Wilshire became its grand boulevard and would become Beverly Hill’s as well. Sunset emerged in the first decades of the 20thcentury to service the large homes and wealthy residents and visitors in the most exclusive part of the emerging community of Beverly Hills. Sunset Boulevard had already become the industrial street in the Hollywoods as movie studios clustered along it. In Beverly Hills, it became the path for the elites of the industry who lived in Beverly Hills to get to their jobs nearby. Until the mid-1920s, it stopped at the city’s western edge. For most of its first two decades, it was as much a site of recreation as it was for transport. It was cut wide enough to have first a bridle path and then a bike path in its median. Commercial and industrial activities were banned. In short, it was truly a boulevard in the grandest sense of the word. Even after Beverly Boulevard was graded and surfaced to the Pacific Palisades and when the entire route of Sunset was improved from downtown to the ocean in the New Deal, commuting patterns were such that it maintained its distinctive character.