Of all the charming properties around, few can match the historic appeal found in homes in Whitley Heights Los Angeles, the original go-to “neighborhood of the stars.” The developer, Hobart J. Whitley, was called the “Father of Hollywood.” He dispatched his architect to Italy to do a study of Mediterranean architecture. Upon returning, he recreated the sumptuous red-roofed classicist villas of Florence and Milan in the Hollywood Hills on the lower portion of the Cahuenga Pass. Many of the streets in Whitley Heights don’t have sidewalks, while steep street-level staircases ascend to the ornate mansions and funky bungalows like stairways to Heaven.
Whitley Heights opened with great fanfare in 1920 and quickly became home-base for celbrities like Marlene Dietrich, Janet Gaynor, Judy Garland, Carole Lombard, Carmen Miranda, Charlie Chaplin, Maurice Chevalier, Rudolph Valentino, Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, and many others.
Since then, Whitley Heights, affectionately known as “The Hill” to its residents, has stood up to everything. It withstood being bisected by Highway 101, as well as numerous attempts at redevelopment. In 1982 the entire residential neighborhood was designated as a state historic district. In 2004 it became the only neighborhood in Hollywood to be designated a national historic place.
Today’s residents of the 168 Whitley Heights homes are a spirited bunch. In 1985, an effort was launched by the residents, with the cooperation of the Public Works Committee of the City Council, to install gates and make Whitley Heights a private enclave, closed off to public traffic. However, the effort was halted in 1992 by court order after a much-publicized lawsuit filed by a group called Citizens Against Gated Enclaves.
Naturally, a Mediterranean home in a historic neighborhood of Hollywood pushes into the millions of dollars, but Whitley Heights actually has a broad price spectrum with a median list price just north of $1 million. Not bad for a piece of Old Hollywood.