Week 154: Beverly Hills II

December 02, 2018

10,000 Steps a Day in L.A. #46: Beverly Hills II, Above and Below the Tracks, 5.5 miles

Dodging mountain trails slippery from last week's rains, Barbara and I hit the cement this week for some holiday cheer in the fanciful streets of Beverly Hills. BH's Mexican/American history began in 1838 as lima bean rancho El Rodeo de las Aguas, and changed hands several times until 1900 when Burton Green and his partners in the Amalgamated Oil Company, bought the land in hopes of discovering oil. They found water, and Beverly Hills—named after Beverly Farms in Massachusetts—was born. Plans for Rodeo Drive started in 1906, and in 1912 the now famous drive was a nice bridle path. Today's hike was a two-parter: the glorious mansions "above" the tracks, and then the fanciful shops and stores "below" the tracks. What tracks? Great trivia here: tracks for the Southern Pacific Railway used to run along the strip of land dividing Santa Monica Blvd and Little Santa Monica Blvd in Beverly Hills, hence, a dividing line between the mansions north of the tracks and the stores, shops, restaurants, and apartments south of the tracks. Barbara and I covered so much history on this hike that I'll let the photos guide the narrative. Beginning at the 100-yr. old First Presbyterian Church at SM & Rodeo, we headed west through the cactus gardens in Beverly Gardens Park along Santa Monica Blvd. At Wilshire, we stopped to study the sculpture of a Tongva Indian praying for rain on top of the historic Electric Fountain, circled by tiles depicting CA history. The fountain is across the street from the former location of Trader Vic's..."and his hair was perfect"...so you know we were singing as we headed into the BH flats. Blocks and blocks of mansions so big you could get lost in your own house, and each with a Rolls, Bentley, Mercedes, and/or Porsche, and a Range Rover in the drive. A delightful pause at the corner of Carmelita and Walden for a look at the "Witch's House" built by a Hollywood art director in 1921 and moved to BH in 1934, complete with moat pond. Our "above" the tracks goal—the "celebrity row" of houses on Roxbury at Lexington. Former home of Lucille Ball on the corner, Jack Benny's house next door (pictured), and Peter Falk's house next door to Jack. Impressive homes, impressive neighborhood, but we couldn't picture block parties. Back to Wilshire Boulevard for the fun Part Two—a holiday window-shopping extravaganza. Neiman's, Saks, and Barney's along Wilshire toward the Beverly Wilshire Hotel (1928), star of 1990's Pretty Woman. A buzz up Beverly Drive past Nate 'n Al's (1945); a hook around for a nod at BH's gorgeous, Italian Renaissance City Hall (1932); and a good laugh at the gas prices at the 76 station at the corner of Crescent and Little Santa Monica. A stroll through the "faux-Euro" shopping alley at Two Rodeo Drive, a stop at Tiffany for a pic of the Tiffany Blue tree, then the grand finale—window shopping the motherlode of designer stores on Rodeo Drive dating back to 1967 when Fred Hyman opened Giorgio Beverly Hills. Chanel is my favorite. Did I say Grand Finale? Not quite true. Following our hike out at Vasquez Rocks in September, Barbara and I got to talking with Chris Shoemaker at the Starbucks we stopped at for mochas. Little did we know that "Chris Shoemaker" is just a disguise. We met him again today at the Paley Center, this time in his true persona. Don't break his cover. Ho ho ho. 

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