In an effort to attain greater local control over issues, such as land use, rent stabilization and emergency services, the people of West Hollywood voted overwhelmingly to become Los Angeles County’s 84th city in 1984, currently hailing as one of the area’s youngest cities.
Since the designation of West Hollywood as a city, its unique identity has been transformed into a regionally, nationally and internationally recognized hub of culture, social progressiveness and economic influence.
Initially, the now flourishing community hailed as the home of the Gabrielino Indians. In 1828, the land was granted to Don Antonio Jose Rocha by Mexico as part of the Rancho La Brea land grant. In the following decades, settlers from the Midwest, East Coast and Europe located to the area, which soon began developing at a rapid pace by the late 1800s.
In 1898, Moses H. Sherman’s Pacific Railway Company sought to link Los Angeles with points to the east, and building its main rail yards, ‘Sherman Station,’ at the corner of San Vicente Boulevard and Melrose Avenue – now the site of the Pacific Design Center. With homes and shops encompassing the station, the area soon became known as the town of Sherman.
The town of Sherman became known as West Hollywood in the 1920s. Though the town was still unincorporated, and with little government oversight, it became a haven for decadence and elegance – speakeasy’s of the 20’s and supper clubs of the 30s, frequented nightly by the ‘who’s who’ of Hollywood, developed along bustling Sunset Boulevard.
Popular hot spots, such as the Mocombo, Trocadero and Ciros, began to fade by the 1960s, opening up the path to a new generation of nightlife. The Whiskey A Go-Go, the Troubadour and the Roxy revamped the Boulevard’s reputation as the place to be in Southern California. It became a period of freedom, exhibition and gambling. West Hollywood also became renowned for its progressive social environment, attracting a large gay and lesbian population, and later, Russian-speaking immigrants from Eastern Europe. Those who built homes in the area in the 1920s and 1930s stayed and become the heart of West Hollywood’s senior community.
By the early 1980s, an association of senior citizens and gays and lesbians joined together in support of incorporation. With a feared loss of rent control and a desire for greater local control, the coalition received what they demanded. West Hollywood – a city to be founded upon a commitment to excellence, respect for all people, service to the public, responsibility for the environment and support business development and corporate citizenship – incorporated in 1984.
Since its incorporation, West Hollywood has been characterized by unparalleled economic growth and developing, becoming a center for entertainment, culture and new media industries. Today, the city’s lively streets are lined with unique restaurants, shopping districts, elite hotels and popular nightclubs, bringing in tourists by the millions each year.
West Hollywood’s successful business community has contributed immensely to the dynamism of the community, allowing for the funding of major capital improvement projects, such as the Santa Monica Boulevard re-construction, the area’s new library and the maintenance of the highest level of municipal services. Building upon the city’s rich and unique heritage, its innovativeness and its commerce, West Hollywood moves towards a bright future of continued success.