There are few more storied neighborhoods in the world than the Hollywood Hills. It’s hard to turnaround without knocking over a landmark – or coming across a home that hasn’t witnessed its share of Hollywood history.
“This is where the Doors used to do acid in the 60’s”
“This was Houdini’s mansion – and across the street is where he housed his mistresses; and he tunneled a passage under the road to be able to pass between the properties”.
“Liberace spent $500,000 to have the power lines buried along this road so as not to obstruct his view of the city”
As eclectic as it is historically, so it is architecturally. Starting from the Craftsman era of the 20’s and 30’s – through the trophy landmark properties of the Mid-century masters up to the modern masterpieces of steel & glass and infinity pools – the hills have something for everyone. The lots are typically nestled pretty closely together and there is no shortage of million dollar views that are botched by power lines dropping right through your sightline (Liberace couldn’t save us all). But there is a reason that a homes can fetch upwards of $2500-$3000 a sq. foot – or more – in this part of town.
Crime in the Hollywood Hills
The nature and ubiquity of crime in the Hollywood Hills is typically misrepresented (and overblown) in film and television. Car chases and explosions are extremely rare. The crime stats for the Hollywood Hills show your standard fare of car burglaries and theft, but nothing you can’t find in neighboring cities. Of course the super-heros down on Hollywood Boulevard help. And if you haven’t seen this documentary, you should check it out – Confessions of a Superhero.
Schools in the Hollywood Hills
- Immaculate Heart is an all-girls middle and high school just at the foothill on Franklin Avenue (this is considered Los Feliz – but it sits at the bottom of the Los Feliz foothills). They bill themselves as a Catholic college preparatory school, and have a self-reported near perfect track record with college admissions.
- The Oaks School is a small, private elementary school also located in the flats on Franklin Ave. The school was founded in 1985 by Hollywood parents unsatisfied with their children’s neighborhood options.
- Valley View Elementary will save you the drive down the hill. Located on Woodrow Wilson Drive, this LAUSD outfit is the highest rated in the neighborhood.
- Wonderland Elementary is one of the most sought after public schools in Los Angeles and serves the Laurel Canyon community. Known and beloved for highly involved staff and students, Wonderland is a cornerstone in the Hollywood Hills.
Parks & Amenities
One of the paradoxes of the Hollywood Hills: it doesn’t really exist. You never tell anyone from LA that you live in the Hollywood Hills – you tell someone from Michigan on a plane (that’s never been to LA) that you live in the Hollywood Hills. You tell people from LA that you live in Laurel Canyon, or Runyon Canyon or the Bird Streets. The ‘Hollywood’ part is a bit of a mirage – the more you focus on the expanse of it, the more it shimmers and disappears.
So if you try and unpack it, here are some of its nooks and niches…
- Laurel Canyon (a hippie conclave from the 60’s which is now a mix of those same hippies and the younger power brokers of Hollywood – agents, managers, writers, actors, etc). Every once in a while a stock trader will make it into Laurel Canyon, but that’s usually by proxy of a Hollywood type. Laurel Canyon is, figuratively, the most central canyon in town; thus part of it’s appeal (and curse) it its proximity to the center of town. You can drop down from the canyon and be in Hollywood, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood or the Sunset Strip – all in 5 minutes. That being said, it’s one of the most highly traveled thoroughfares in the city – and so getting in and out of there, can be a pain in the a#$. It’s a route that most saavy locals work to avoid during large parts of the day (or at least from 8-10am and 3-7pm). The homes in Laurel Canyon are a smattering of styles quality. a $2,000,000 home can sit next to a dilapidated tear down for $500,000.
- Mulholland Drive (immortalized in countless films) is the scenic route that divides the city of LA from it’s nemesis, the Valley. It’s a gorgeous and windy route that connects the many canyons across the city. It’s sprinkled with scenic pit-stops and awe-inspiring city scapes; and while it’s views are incomparable – it’s efficacy as a through road is limited by the tour buses crawling through the pass as visitors snap pictures of the city. Sunset Plaza, the luxury arm of the Sunset Strip. You can find high end eateries, an amalgamation of designers, and probably spot a few celebrities lunching outside.
- The Bird Streets, the avian enclave recently made famous by its increasingly famous residents (and increasingly opulent homes and prices). The bird streets host some of the city’s newest and most extravagant homes. In this neighborhood, fixers typically start around $5,000,000 and finished homes – well sited are selling for over $10,000,000.
- Outpost Estates, established in 1853 as one of the first neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Bits of the original, Hollywood-sign-esque Outpost sign can be found strewn alongside the Runyon Canyon hiking trail. All new developments had to be approved by a council and some of LA’s greatest designs can be found in the tree covered neighborhood.
- Nichols Canyon, home to countless natural and man-made waterfalls and a year round creek that attracts all walks of wildlife. Nichols canyon is well known to locals as one of LA’s best areas to cycle and hike and has a long history of cults, criminals, and fine art that you can only find in Los Angeles.
- Runyon Canyon A 160 acre park from which one can experience an extraordinary sunset, and the view of Los Angeles is excellent for hiking, and jogging on some of the best trails in the city. The park offers free outdoor daily yoga class as well.
- Bronson Canyon is a part of Griffith Park, and contains picnic tables, hiking trail, Hollywood sign, tunnel/cave and parking. It is famous filming location, especially for westerns and science fiction films.
Restaurants in Hollywood are covered ad-nauseam and doors sometimes shutter before they’re open. It’s a rare part of the world where a hamburger on the same block can run from $2 to $20. We won’t assume the role of Zagat, so here’s a modest list of our favorite restaurants in the area.
Pace is nestled in Laurel Canyon and has an open but intimate dining room and a well known salmon entree served (and cooked) on a cedar plank. The Griddle Cafe is one of LA’s quintessential diners where there’s constantly heavy traffic in the form of a wait line and an occasional celebrity sighting. Fig & Olive is a POTUS favorite, hosting the Obamas in their upscaled Mediterranean eatery on two separate trips to Los Angeles. We’d also recommend the newly reimagined Murakami on Fairfax, a modern Japanese restaurant serving affordable sashimi and chirashi bowls.
Keep in mind, the Hollywood Hills, are intrinsically, residential – so all of the eateries and retail are outliers. You (rarely) walk from your house in Laurel Canyon to dinner – which means, by and large, the hills are high on the walkable score – in terms of accessing things – but they are close to everything LA has. So you can descend from the Bird Streets to Restaurant row on Sunset Plaza – and find almost anything you’d want in the world to eat.
Similarly, if you want to be a bit more incognito – or economical – you can always funnel out of the hills into the Valley – and find yourself amidst a cornucopia of other dining and diversions.
Entertainment & Nightlife
There are few options unavailable to Hollywood residents in terms of entertainment and nightlife. The world-renowned Hollywood Bowl is in your back yard. The Henry Fonda theater draws the same caliber of acts to a more intimate venue. The Hollywood Palladium down the road has been housing headliners for decades on end.
Bars, clubs, and restaurants are too many to name. Our favorites include the ever-rocking Piano Bar on Selma, the hidden hangout behind the craftsman-turned-speakeasy No Vacancy, and The Roger Room for their old-Hollywood decor and the city’s best cocktails. There’s a long list of honorable mentions – the Ford Theater, the pork phenoms at Animal – and you’ll probably have suggestions of your own before you make it through ours.
Again, something to keep in mind; the Hollywood Hills are near to all – but next to none… meaning, unless you live at the very base of the hills, you are not walking to nightlife. And if you are living at the base of the hills – you are living amidst the nightlife 24/7. All of the world – and all of the city comes to town for dinner, sightseeing, drinks – and to be there is invigorating and urban – be prepared. (Note – by urban, we mean LA urban – this is still a town where no ones walks).
If you’re considering buying or selling a house in Hollywood Hills (or more aptly – Laurel Canyon, Sunset Plaza or Beachwood Canyon), or just want to chat about the endless lore of the hills, contact the offices of Johnny Johnston at Compass Realty; (323)207.9521, Johnny@TheLAHome.com or click the button below!