Westwood is a community in western Los Angeles, California, not to be confused with Westwood, California. Westwood is best known as the home of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The northeastern portions of the district are often thought of as a distinctly different neighborhood, Little Holmby. Westwood was carved from the old Wolfskill Farm, a 3,000-plus-acre tract that was purchased in 1919 by wealthy retailer Arthur Letts. Letts' son-in-law, Harold Janss, was vice president of Janss Investment Co., which developed the area and started advertising new homes in 1922.
Because there is a census-designated place (CDP) in Northern
California's Lassen County named Westwood, California, the United States Postal
Service has declared that all mail addressed to the Westwood district of Los
Angeles must be labeled "Los Angeles, CA" instead of "Westwood,
The area's notorious traffic has led to calls for the extension of the Wilshire leg of the Los Angeles Metro's Red Line subway to Westwood from its current endpoint at Western Avenue in Koreatown.
Westwood is also home to the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, the last resting place of many of Hollywood's biggest stars including Marilyn Monroe. A museum named for and endowed by activist and philanthropist Armand Hammer, longtime head of Occidental Petroleum (which maintains its headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard), has become one of Los Angeles' trendiest cultural attractions since UCLA assumed its management in the 1990s. The Hammer, as it is commonly known, is particularly notable for its collection of Impressionist art and cutting-edge modern art exhibitions.
Westwood Village was built by the Janss family and wildly successful from its earliest stages, the Westwood Village shopping district successfully retained its cozy village atmosphere even as the San Diego Freeway came through the area in the 1950s and high-rise office towers went up around it in the following decades. However, much of this construction was planned around the never-built Beverly Hills Freeway; in combination with a severe parking shortage at UCLA, high-density development in Westwood has created some of the worst traffic congestion in Los Angeles.
Many local observers contend that Westwood Village's heyday was between the 1960s and the mid-1980s, when some of the streets were so crowded with pedestrians that they were closed to vehicular traffic. The murder of innocent bystander Karen Toshima, during a gun battle between rival gangs on January 30, 1988, gained nationwide notoriety and led to the widespread impression that even affluent Westwood was not immune to the crime wave then ravaging Los Angeles. It would take more than a decade for this perception to fade.
Housing and Demographics
Many of the area's permanent residents are of European and Iranian ancestry and generally affluent, living in high-rise apartment buildings and, in Little Holmby, some of the most luxurious single-family houses in Los Angeles. An NPR report in fact recently put the Iranian population of nearby Beverly Hills as high as 20% of the total population.
Because of consistently high demand and the district's proximity to so many Westside attractions and businesses, rental housing in Westwood is very expensive relative to most areas of Los Angeles. For all but the wealthiest UCLA students, living off-campus in a Westwood apartment necessitates sharing a room. As a result, many UCLA students live 5 miles south of campus in Culver City and the Los Angeles districts of Mar Vista and Palms, both in private housing and in large UCLA-owned apartment complexes. Significant numbers of UCLA students also live in the San Fernando Valley, but heavy traffic congestion through the Sepulveda Pass and Beverly Glen can wreak havoc on commutes between the Valley and Westwood. Businesses owned or operated by the Iranian community are clustered along Westwood Blvd., earning it the name 'Little Persia'.
Century City is a 176-acre neighborhood and business district in Los Angeles' Westside. Outside Downtown Los Angeles, Century City is one of the metropolitan area's most prominent employment centers and its skyscrapers form a distinctive skyline on the Westside. The district was developed on the former backlot of film studio 20th Century Fox, and its first building was opened in 1963. There are two private schools, but no public schools in the neighborhood. Important to the economy is the Westfield Century City shopping center, business towers, and Fox Studios.