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Los Feliz

Los Feliz, Steve

LOS FELIZ is an affluent hillside neighborhood in the central region of Los Angeles, leaning upon the eastern Hollywood and northern Silver Lake borders. It encompasses part of the Santa Monica Mountains, flanked on the north by Griffith Park and the east by Atwater Village. Noted for its expensive historic homes and celebrity inhabitants, Los Feliz is steeped in Hollywood history. It encompasses several smaller but distinct areas, including the Los Feliz Hills and Los Feliz Estates (north of Los Feliz Blvd.), Laughlin Park, Los Feliz Village, Los Feliz Square, Los Feliz Knolls, and Franklin Hills.The neighborhood is named after its colonial Spanish-Mexican land grantee, José Vicente Feliz, and, along with present-day Griffith Park, makes up the original Rancho Los Feliz land concession.

The area north of Los Feliz Boulevard below Griffith Park is commonly referred to as the Los Feliz Hills. The “Hills” contain multi-million-dollar homes and have been known for the large share of their inhabitants being involved in the creative pursuits. With an annual household income well over $200,000 the hills are one of the wealthiest areas of Los Angeles.

Originally known as Rancho Los Feliz, the area was granted to Corporal José Vicente Feliz prior to California becoming a state. An adobe house built by his heirs in the 1830s still stands on Crystal Springs Drive in Griffith Park, named for mining and real estate magnate, Griffith J. Griffiths.

A prominent figure in the area’s history, Griffith purchased a major portion of the Rancho and afterward donated most of it to the city of Los Angeles for use as a park. Griffith Park, today, is one largest urban parks in the country and five times the size of New York’s Central Park. Other sections of the rancho were later developed and became the communities of Los Feliz and Silver Lake. These communities progressively grew into today’s neighborhoods heavily populated with architecturally significant homes and distinct structures by famed architects Frank Lloyd Wright, his son Lloyd Wright, Richard Neutra, John Lautner, R.M. Schindler, Raphael Soriano, and more.

Mickey Mouse was “born” in Los Feliz. Walt Disney drew his first image of the now-legendary character in the garage of his uncle’s house located on Kingswell Avenue between Vermont Avenue and Rodney Drive. Disney’s first animation studio was also located on Kingswell just down the street from his uncle’s house and east of Vermont Avenue. A few short years later, a second, larger Disney studio (now a Gelson’s supermarket) was located at the corner of Griffith Park Boulevard and Hyperion Avenue.

Today, Los Feliz is home to two major studios currently in operation. Prospect Studios first opened for business in 1915 and sits quietly tucked away into it’s neighborhood such that many people are unaware it sits in their own backyard. This Disney-owned ABC studio and transmission center serves as a home for several long-running television productions including General Hospital and Grey’s Anatomy. Prospect served as the West Coast headquarters for ABC for over 50 years before moving to Burbank. Other classic television shows produced here were The Lawrence Welk Show, Mr. Belvedere, Welcome Back Kotter, Barney Miller, Benson and Soap. Established in 1912 as the Lubin Manufacturing Company producing educational films, the KCET Studios on Sunset Boulevard, today, is the longest continuously-producing studio in Hollywood. Succeeding owners included Essanay Film Company, Monogram Pictures, Allied Artists, and ColorVision. Since 1970 it had been the home of public television station KCET but has recently been sold to the Church of Scientology. Dozens of classic films were shot here including early Charlie Chan movies, Hurricane (starring Dorothy Lamour), the camp classic Johnny Guitar, The Babe Ruth Story, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and El Cid. The facility was designated historic by the city of Los Angeles in 1978.

One of the City’s most scenic streets is Los Feliz Boulevard where it runs from the north end of Western Avenue to Riverside Drive skirting the southern foot of Griffith Park. It’s a spacious boulevard with very large parkways in front of some of the City’s stately old homes.

A distinct portion of the boulevard’s charm is due to the Deodar Cedar street trees that flank this primary Los Feliz thoroughfare. Initial planting of these impressive evergreens began in the 1940’s and today, they are listed on the City’s Historic Cultural Monument list.

Some famous Los Feliz former and current residents include: Colin Ferrell, Demi Lovato, Zac Efron, Kristen Bell, Chris Pine, Eva Mendez, Mandy Moore, James Cameron, Joe Jonas, Patton Oswalt, Kirstie Alley, Joel McHale, Ali Landry, Kiefer Sutherland, Bijou Phillips, Alexander Skarsgard, Katey Sagal, Anthony Kiedis, Casey Affleck, Rebel Wilson, January Jones, Zachary Quinto, Megan Fox, Geena Davis, Terrence Howard, Leonardo DiCaprio, Katy Perry, Danny Masterson, Rihanna, Kristen Stewart, Owen Wilson, Madonna, Frank Darabont, Katherine Heigl, Robert Pattinson, Gwen Stefani, Courtney Love, Christina Ricci, Rose McGowan, Giovanni Ribisi, Adam Levine, Valerie Bertinelli, David Hyde Pierce, Sally Field, Will.i.am, Lily Tomlin, Bela Lugosi, Kate Walsh, Jon Cryer, Blair Underwood, Eddie Van Halen, Steven Soderbergh, Slash, Tony Hale, William J Saunders and many more.

The entirety of Los Feliz is comprised of a collection of neighborhoods each offering distinct lifestyles. LOS FELIZ VILLAGE is the southern section of Los Feliz and home to most of the commercial storefronts in the district. It is centered on the thoroughfares of Vermont and Hillhurst Avenues and spans from about Prospect Avenue to Los Feliz Boulevard. There are several coffee shops, restaurants, and small clothing and vintage stores located here.

People living in, or near, the heart of Los Feliz Village have a propensity to lean toward a younger profile with an urban sensibility. They enjoy a lifestyle that supplies for their every need within a short walk. With regard to housing, the Village has a varied mix of single-family homes and apartment buildings of all sizes. Most of the homes are teeming with character, built in the 1920’s and 30’s and are by and large classic California bungalows with period revival influences as well as Spanish style. Within Los Feliz, the Village is the neighborhood where more affordable housing is found and, thus, an ideal location for first-time home buyers.

Los Feliz Village Business Improvement District helps promote local businesses and has an annual street fair.

Situated in the hills east of the Village flats, South of Los Feliz Boulevard, with Hyperion Avenue at its eastern edge are the FRANKLIN HILLS. As with most hilly areas, streets wind and meander and many homes have panoramic views from downtown to the coast. Architecture styles are varied and include designs from many significant architects of the 20th century. A balanced blend of long-time residents share this neighborhood with the transplant-to-L.A. creative types who crave the benefits of a quiet, family neighborhood while keeping near to their artistic, hipster colleagues in Silver Lake and Los Feliz Village.

An enchanting point of entry into the hills is by way of Franklin Street, heading east from the Village, crossing the picturesque Shakespeare Bridge. Built in 1926 and named in honor of the playwright William Shakespeare, this concrete, Gothic style bridge was designated an L.A. Historic Cultural Monument in 1974. The bridge underwent a major seismic retrofit in 1998 with special care taken to preserve its original appearance. To the east of the bridge begins the Franklin Hills Public Stairway system. This series of 14 stairways date back to the 1920’s, purportedly built to provide hillside owners with access to trolley lines below. Today these stairways (the longest is 167 steps) provide residents and visitors a fun way to incorporate exercise with getting to know the neighborhood.

In 1998, Laura Meyers of Los Angeles Magazine described LAUGHLIN PARK as “The most seductive, exclusive neighborhood in Los Feliz”. Established in 1905 by builder and entrepreneur Homer Laughlin, it has become one of L.A.’s top five neighborhoods according to the publication. This private, gated community which is bounded by Los Feliz Boulevard, Cummings Drive, Franklin Avenue and Hobart Boulevard. The relatively small community is filled with homes that are both architecturally and historically significant. The who’s who of former residents drawn by its appeal include Charlie Chaplin, W.C. Fields, Basil Rathbone, and Cecil B. DeMille. Among its current residents are equally prominent figures in the contemporary film era.

Prominent architects Gordon Kaufman, Julia Morgan, Roland Coate, and most notably Lloyd Wright, who designed at least 5 homes within its periphery, designed many of the 60 luxurious homes here. Unlike communities, such as Whitley Heights, which were created with a specific architectural theme in mind, the residences in Laughlin Park are widely varied, including Mediterranean, French, Craftsman, Italian, Spanish, English Gothic, Modern and Traditional.

The LOS FELIZ ESTATES (known as “The Estates” by locals) is a relatively young tract of homes dating back to the mid 1960s. Distinctive among hillside communities in that its streets are straight and configured as single-loaded terraces, meaning the homes are placed on one side of the street only. This terraced hillside layout, combined with predominantly one-story homes, provides most of its residents with broad city views. Another benefit to the unique configuration is that it provides flat yards, which allowed for the easy installation of backyard swimming pools present in most of the homes. In keeping with the era of construction, home layouts typically include large kitchens, family rooms, and garages. The Los Feliz Estates has a homeowners’ association with dues which includes a 24-hour security patrol car, a factor in the very low crime rate enjoyed by the residents.

The area of Los Feliz that lies in the hills east of The Estates is commonly referred to as LOS FELIZ HILLS or simply “north of the Boulevard”. As with most other hillside communities, the streets here meander and twist providing a sense of quiet seclusion. However, contrary to many other hillside communities, a good portion of these streets are broad and flanked by sidewalks. At the junction of Vermont and Hillhurst Avenues is the Vermont parkway. This grand roadway, graced by massive overhanging trees that span the grassy median that bisects it, offers one of the most peaceful and picturesque streetscapes in southern California. The homes in the Los Feliz hills are predominately larger residences selling at the upper end of the area’s price range. Many of the homes deliver splendid views to their occupants and given the proximity to Griffith Park, which adjoins the neighborhood, there could hardly be a more ideal location for those with a fondness for hiking, golf, and the numerous outdoor activities that the park affords.

THE OAKS is a hilly and generously shaded area populated with beautiful homes and embodies a character that its residents appreciate sufficiently enough to keep them there for sometimes several decades. The strong civic pride of its residents is reflected in the very active, voluntary homeowners association which works to preserve the area’s beauty and order. Bordered by Griffith Park to the north, Foothill Drive on the south, Fern Dell Drive to the east, and Canyon Drive on the west, its name is derived from the winding streets named after various species of oak trees (e.g. Live Oak, Red Oak, Verde Oak, etc.). Another popular area among Hollywood’s elite, past and present, The Oaks offers a generous mix of homes in revival styles dating back to the 1920s, balanced by a collection of modern architectural treasures.

Typical of hillside neighborhoods, many homes afford dazzling views, while others rest privately into shaded pockets, creating a quiet retreat from the nearby city.

Lodged between The Oaks and Franklin Ave is HOLLYWOOD GROVE, the only area in Los Feliz registered as a Historical Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ). A relatively small HPOZ, its east-west borders are St. Andrews Place and Canyon Drive and consists of only 139 homes. The area, most notably along Canyon drive, contains a significant concentration of Craftsman style homes. American Colonial Revival, Mediterranean and Period Revival styles from the early 1900’s are also well represented. All stand out as a strong indication of what a typical residential subdivision once looked like in the Hollywood community. Wide, lushly landscaped yards, front porches that envelop the sun, and views of rolling mountains and the pervasive Hollywood Sign make this former avocado grove an everlasting slice of the history of Los Angeles.

Los Feliz area schools are as follows:

John Marshall Senior High School
3939 Tracy Street | 323-671-1400
9-12 | Los Angeles Unified School DistrictFranklin Avenue Elementary School
1910 North Commonwealth Avenue | 323-663-0320
K-6 | Los Angeles Unified School District

Los Feliz Elementary School
740 North New Hampshire Avenue | 323-663-0674
K-6 | Los Angeles Unified School District

Thomas Starr King Middle School
4201 Fountain Avenue | 323-644-6700
6-8 | Los Angeles Unified School DistrictOur Mother of Good Counsel Catholic School
4622 Ambrose Avenue | 323-664-2131
1-8 | CA Private Schools

Lycée International de Los Angeles, Los Feliz Campus
4155 Russell Avenue | 323-665-4526
K-12 | CA Private Schools

(The Immaculate Heart School is in close proximity to the community.)