Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles

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Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles
Neighborhood of Los Angeles
Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles is located in San Fernando Valley
Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles
Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles
Location within Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley
Coordinates: 34°07′02″N 118°22′31″W / 34.117275°N 118.375281°W / 34.117275; -118.375281
Country  United States of America
State  California
County Los Angeles
City Los Angeles
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)

Laurel Canyon is a neighborhood and canyon located in the Hollywood Hills region of the Santa Monica Mountains, in the Hollywood Hills West district of Los Angeles, California.


Laurel Canyon is focused on its central thoroughfare, Laurel Canyon Boulevard. However, unlike other nearby canyon neighborhoods, Laurel Canyon has houses lining one side of the main street most of the way up to Mulholland Drive. There are many side roads that branch off the main canyon, but most are not through streets, reinforcing the self-contained nature of the neighborhood. Some of the main side streets are Mount Olympus, Kirkwood, Wonderland Avenue, Willow Glen, and Lookout Mountain Avenue. The zip code for a portion of the neighborhood is 90046.[1]

Laurel Canyon Boulevard is an important North-South route between: West Hollywood, Hollywood, and Central Los Angeles; and Studio City and the eastern San Fernando Valley. The canyon's division between the two regions is defined by Mulholland Drive.

In early 2005, the first section of the road on the Hollywood side was partially washed away in a heavy rainstorm, and traffic was redirected to a normally quiet residential side street.[citation needed]



The Laurel Canyon area was inhabited by the Tongva people, a regional tribe of the indigenous peoples of California, for thousands of years.[citation needed] A spring-fed stream flowed year-round providing water.

The reliable water attracted colonial Spanish ranchers who started sheep grazing on the hillsides in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. After the Mexican-American War and U.S. statehood, the area was settled by Americans interested in water rights.

Lookout Mountain[edit]

Trolleybuses passing each other in Laurel Canyon Drive. The bus on the right is coasting with trolley poles down[2][3][4][better source needed][5][6][7]

Travel up the canyon was at first made on foot or by mule. Built in 1907, an 82-mile dirt road, later named Laurel Canyon Boulevard ran up the canyon where it divided at what is now Lookout Mountain Road. The left road went up to the summit of Lookout Mountain and the other went to the top of the Santa Monica Mountains and down to the San Fernando Valley.

In 1908, the Lookout Mountain Park and Water company was formed to purchase 280 acres on Lookout Mountain, just west of Laurel Canyon, subdivided and marketed as mountain vacation properties. On Aug. 14, 1908, Los Angeles Times announced the newly formed Lookout Mountain Park Land and Water Co. would build Lookout Mountain Inn at the summit of Lookout Mountain and Sunset Plaza roads, and Lookout Mountain Park, Bungalow Land at Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Lookout Mountain Avenue and Wonderland Park.[8] Two years later, the company widened the winding dirt road to the top of Lookout Mountain where they built the Lookout Mountain Inn.[9][10]

In 1912, Charles Mann, a real estate developer and Richard Shoemaker, an engineer,[11] built a trackless electric trolley bus line which ran between the Laurel Canyon Pacific Electric Shuttle stop at the foot of Laurel Canyon at Sunset Boulevard,[12][13] up Laurel Canyon Road from Sunset Boulevard to the Tavern at the base of Lookout Mountain Road, a road house serving visitors. The car had two trolley poles, one to a positive overhead wire and one to a ground overhead wire, and was able to sway to either side of the street, only using power uphill. The trolley was actually a 1912 Oldsmobile with an electric motor and 10-passenger capacity.[14] The overhead wires came down and the service was replaced by Stanley Steamers about 1915. Until 1918, the trackless trolley traveled up and down Laurel Canyon to meet the half hour schedule to Los Angeles. It was insufficiently patronized and discontinued when Pacific Electric stopped running streetcars between Gardner Junction and Laurel Canyon Boulevard, and demand failed to support it.[15][16]

On October 26, 1918, a fire, fanned by strong Santa Ana winds, burned about 200 acres and totally destroyed Lookout Mountain Inn at the summit of Lookout Mountain Avenue and Sunset Plaza Drive.[17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25] Another major fire occurred in July 1959, destroying some 38 homes. [26]

As the roads were improved access was possible by automobile.[27][28][29][30][31][32]

Now a vacant lot, the corner of Lookout Mountain Avenue and Laurel Canyon Blvd (2401 Laurel Canyon Blvd)[33] is where the Tavern, a famous 1915 "Log Cabin" mansion stood, with its 80-foot living room, floor to ceiling fireplace, bowling alley and indoor sunken swimming pool.[34] It was once occupied by silent film star Tom Mix[35] but spent years on the rental market. In 1968 it was rented by Frank Zappa who turned it into a recording studio and celebrity hangout.[36][37] However, Zappa moved out after six months. The house burned to the ground on Halloween 1981.

Directly across the street, at 2400 Laurel Canyon Blvd., is site of the home, long-gone, that magician Harry Houdini may have rented around 1919. It was originally the Walker estate.[38][39]


Laurel Canyon found itself a nexus of counterculture activity and attitudes in the mid-late 1960s and early 1970's, becoming famous as home to many of L.A.'s rock musicians, such as Frank Zappa; Jim Morrison of The Doors; Carole King; The Byrds; Buffalo Springfield; Canned Heat; John Mayall; members of the band The Eagles; the band Love; Neil Young; and Micky Dolenz & Peter Tork of The Monkees. Tork's home was considered one of Laurel Canyon's biggest party houses with all-night, drug-fueled sleepovers, well attended by the hippest musicians and movie stars of the era.[40][41][42]

John Phillips of the Mamas & the Papas took inspiration from their home in Laurel Canyon for the song "Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon), released in 1967.

In 1968, John Mayall recorded and released Blues from Laurel Canyon based on his experiences on a vacation earlier that year.

Famed photographer Henry Diltz was also a resident and used the scenic Canyon backdrop for many of his historic photos of rock musicians casually socializing. Several of his photos became iconic representations of the 1960s & 1970's West Coast music scene and many others became famous album sleeve covers (such as CSN's debut album: Crosby, Stills & Nash - photographed in nearby West Hollywood).

Joni Mitchell, living in the home in the Canyon that was immortalized in the song, "Our House" (1970), written by her then-lover Graham Nash, would use the area and its denizens as inspiration for her third album, Ladies of the Canyon (1970). Crosby, Stills, and Nash are reputed to have first sung together in her living room.[43]

Musician J. Tillman has said that his output under the moniker Father John Misty was partly inspired by a relocation to and personal reinvention in Laurel Canyon. The song "I Went to the Store One Day," from his 2015 album I Love You, Honeybear, recounts the story of how Tillman met his wife, Emma, in the parking lot of the Laurel Canyon Country Store.[44][45]

On July 1, 1981, three members and one associate of the Wonderland Gang, so-called because they were based at 8763 Wonderland Avenue, died in the Wonderland murders (also known as the "Four on the Floor murders" or the "Laurel Canyon murders"). Salon reports: "The massacre took place just down the street from what was then the home of Jerry Brown, who was California’s governor at the time. And 8763 Wonderland Ave. itself is said to have been inhabited at one time by Paul Revere and the Raiders."[46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Verified Aug 16, 2015 at US Postal Service look-up site. See!input.action?resultMode=1&companyName=&address1=laurel+canyon&address2=&city=los+angeles&state=CA&urbanCode=&postalCode=&zip=
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  4. ^ de:Datei:Trackless Trolley 00018878.jpg
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  10. ^ Los Angeles Herald, Volume 37, Number 156, 6 March 1910 "Mrs. F. J. Talamantes, accompanied by her daughters, Mrs. M. D. O'Farrell and Miss Fay Talamantes, left yesterday for a two weeks' stay at Bungalow Inn, in Laurel canyon"
  11. ^
  12. ^ The Laurel Canyon Pacific Electric Shuttle ran fromthe foot of Laurel Canyon at Sunset Boulevard to Gardner Junction at Gardner Street and Sunset Boulevard, Beverly Hills line of the Pacific Electric Railway station. (1451 N Gardner St, West Hollywood, CA 90046,-118.3617229,16z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x80c2bedc10477be1:0x97c62b281862f15a!8m2!3d34.0977496!4d-118.3529789)
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  34. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-11-17. Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-08-26. Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  36. ^ Dowd, Vincent (28 September 2011). "Frank Zappa: the clean-living hellraiser". BBC News. Retrieved 6 September 2014.  Interview with Pauline Butcher, Zappa's live-in secretary.
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  43. ^ Sheila Weller, Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon—And the Journey of a Generation, Atria Books, 2008, ISBN 0743491475.
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  46. ^ Lemons, Stephen (June 9, 2000). "Return to Wonderland". Salon. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°7′2.19″N 118°22′31.01″W / 34.1172750°N 118.3752806°W / 34.1172750; -118.3752806