Westwood Village, Los Angeles
Westwood Village is the main shopping and commercial center of the Westwood district in the City of Los Angeles, California. It is located north of Wilshire Boulevard, east of Gayley Avenue, south of Le Conte Avenue, and west of Hilgard Avenue.
Westwood Village was created by the Janss Investment Company, run by Harold and Edwin Janss and their father, Peter, in the late 1920s as an autonomous shopping district and headquarters of the Janss Company. Its boom was complemented by the boom of UCLA (which selected the Westwood Hills as its new home in 1919), developed as a shopping district not just for the residents of Westwood but also for the university. Opening in 1929, the original design was considered one of the most well planned and beautifully laid out of commercial areas in the nation. Harold Janss had hired major architects and instructed them to follow a Mediterranean theme, with clay tile roofs, decorative Spanish tile, paseos, patios and courtyards. Buildings located at strategic points, including theaters, used towers to serve as beacons for drivers on Wilshire Boulevard. Janss picked the first slate of businesses and determined their location in the neighborhood; the area opened with 34 businesses, despite the Great Depression, had 452 in 1939.
The architectural style met a turning point in 1970, when a 24-story office building now known as Oppenheimer Tower was built in the neighborhood and the design of new buildings soon became a mishmash of styles. The Oppenheimer Tower was used for the primary location in the 1978 episode of Emergency!, The Steel Inferno. The neighborhood's popularity continued to rise, with commercial rents peaking in 1988. The area then suffered a major setback in the late 1980s, when gangs began to frequent the neighborhood and bother visitors; the problems culminated in January 1988 when a gang shootout resulted in the death of a 27-year-old bystander. The neighborhood's well known bookstores and some movie cinemas began closing with the advent of large chain stores, Amazon.com and multiplex theaters.
Today, Westwood Village houses many small and large shops and restaurants. Though some of the restaurants are independently owned, most of the Westwood's establishments are now chain stores. Historically, independent merchants have blamed poor sales on lack of parking; a city-owned garage, on Broxton Ave, provides two hours of free parking for patrons entering before 6 pm, and $3 flat rate parking from 6 pm to close (typically midnight on weeknights and 3 am on weekends). Parking is still cited as a problem.
Westwood is also the home of the Hammer Museum.
A number of notable buildings remain from the early years of Westwood Village, including:
The Fox Theater (or Village Theater) features a landmark 170-foot (52 m) white Spanish Revival/Moderne tower and Churrigueresque stucco decorations. The theater looms over the Broxton and Weyburn Avenues intersection. Built in 1931 this cinema later became famous for the many movie premieres held there.
The Janss Dome (Janss Investment Company Building) the first building to be built in Westwood Village in 1929, is another village landmark with its dome on an octagonal base, portico and large arched windows. The Dome is situated at the three-way intersection of Westwood Boulevard, Broxton and Kinross Avenues.
Ralphs Market Building, also built in 1929, is a red tile-roofed Spanish Colonial Revival building featuring a rotunda with a pediment over the entrance and arcaded wings, at 1142–1154 Westwood Boulevard.
These four buildings have all been declared Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments. Another village landmark is Holmby Hall (1929), a Spanish Colonial Revival building featuring a clock tower which was damaged by fire around 2003, located at the corner of Weyburn Avenue and Westwood Boulevard.
- Martha Groves, Seeking shoppers in Westwood Village, Los Angeles Times, May 6, 2008, Accessed May 6, 2008.
- ArchitectDB - Structure Detail. Digital.lib.washington.edu. Retrieved on 2013-08-25.