West Hollywood, commonly referred to as WeHo, is a city in Los Angeles County, California. Incorporated in 1984, it is home to the Sunset Strip. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, its population was 34,399. It is considered one of the most prominent gay villages in the United States.
Most historical writings about West Hollywood began in the late-18th century with European colonization when the Portuguese explorer João Rodrigues Cabrilho arrived offshore and claimed the already inhabited region for Spain. Around 5,000 of the indigenous inhabitants from the Tongva Indian tribe canoed out to greet Juan Cabrillo.
The Spanish mission system changed the tribal name to "Gabrielinos", in reference to the Mission de San Gabriel. Early in 1770 Gaspar de Portola's Mexican expeditionary force stopped just south of the Santa Monica Mountains near what would become West Hollywood to draw pitch (brea in Spanish) from tar pits to waterproof their belongings and to say mass. The Gabrielinos are believed to have burned the pitch for fuel.
By 1780, what became the "Sunset Strip" was the major connecting road for El Pueblo de Los Angeles and all ranches westward to the Pacific Ocean. This land passed through the hands of various owners during the next one hundred years and it was called names such as "La Brea" and "Plummer" that are listed in historical records. Most of this area was part of the Rancho La Brea and eventually it came to be owned by the Henry Hancock family.
During the final decade years of the nineteenth century, the first large land development in what would later become West Hollywood—the town of "Sherman"—was established by Moses Sherman and his partners of the Los Angeles Pacific Railroad, an inter-urban railroad line which later became part of the Pacific Electric Railway system. Sherman became the location of the railroad's main shops, railroad yards, and "car barns". Many working-class employees of the railroad settled in this town. It was during this time that the city began to earn its reputation as a loosely regulated, liquor-friendly (during Prohibition) place for eccentric people wary of government interference.
Despite several annexation attempts, the town elected not to become part of the City of Los Angeles. In a controversial decision, in 1925 Sherman adopted "West Hollywood", "...a moniker pioneered earlier in the decade by the West Hollywood Realty Board" as its informal name, though it remained under the governance of Los Angeles County.
For many years, the area that is now the City of West Hollywood was an unincorporated area in the midst of Los Angeles.
Because gambling was illegal in the city of Los Angeles but still legal in Los Angeles County, the 1920s saw the proliferation of many casinos, night clubs, etc., along Sunset Boulevard (which starts in downtown Los Angeles and runs westward). These businesses were immune from the sometimes heavy-handed law-enforcement of the L.A. Police Department.
Some people connected with movie-making were attracted to this less-restricted area of the County, and a number of architecturally distinctive apartment buildings and apartment hotels were built. Many interior designers, decorators and "to the trade" furnishing showrooms located in West Hollywood date back to the middle of the century. Eventually the area and its extravagant nightclubs fell out of favor. However, the Sunset Strip and its restaurants, saloons, and nightclubs continued to be an attraction for out-of-town tourists.
During the late 1960s, the Sunset Strip was transformed again during the hippie movement which brought a thriving music publishing industry coupled with the now-famous "hippie" culture. Some young people from all over the country flocked to West Hollywood. The most recent migration to West Hollywood came about after the dissolution of the Soviet Union when thousands of Russian Jews immigrated to the city. A majority of the 5,000 to 6,000 Russian Jews settled in two major immigration waves, 1978–79 and 1988–92. Other than New York, West Hollywood's Russian-speaking community is the most concentrated single Russian-speaking region in United States.
In 1984, residents in West Hollywood organized to maintain rent control. When Los Angeles County began planning to discontinue rent controls, West Hollywood was a densely populated area of renters, many of whom would not be able to afford to keep up with the generally rapid raises in rent in the Los Angeles area. A tight coalition of seniors and renters swiftly voted to incorporate as the "City of West Hollywood". West Hollywood then immediately adopted one of the strongest rent control laws in the nation.
West Hollywood is bounded by the city of Beverly Hills on the west and on other sides by neighborhoods of the city of Los Angeles: Hollywood Hills on the north,Hollywood on the east, the Fairfax District on the southeast and Beverly Grove on the southwest. The city's irregular boundary is featured in its logo; it was largely formed from the unincorporated Los Angeles County area that had not become part of the surrounding cities.
West Hollywood benefits from a very dense, compact urban form with small lots, mixed land use, and a walkable street grid. According to Walkscore, a website that ranks cities based on walkability, West Hollywood is the most walkable city in California with a Walkscore of 89.
Commercial corridors include nightlife and dining focused on the Sunset Strip, along Santa Monica Boulevard and the Avenues of Art and Design along Robertson, Melrose, and Beverly Boulevard.
Residential neighborhoods in West Hollywood include the Norma Triangle, West Hollywood North, West Hollywood West, West Hollywood East and West Hollywood Heights all of which are only a few blocks long or wide. Major intersecting streets typically provide amenities within walking distance of adjacent neighborhoods.
Primary and secondary schools
West Hollywood is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Elementary schools that serve sections of West Hollywood include:
West Hollywood Elementary School K–6
Rosewood Avenue Elementary School K-6
Laurel Elementary School K-7
Melrose Elementary School K-5
Gardner Street Elementary School K-6
Most of West Hollywood is zoned to Bancroft Middle School. Some portions in the south are zoned to John Burroughs Middle School. Students living in the Los Angeles area known as Beverly Hills Post Office usually attend West Hollywood Elementary but then go to Emerson Middle School.
West Hollywood College Preparatory School (WHCP) K-12
The Center for Early Education
Pacific Hills School
All of West Hollywood is zoned to Fairfax High School; some areas are jointly zoned to Fairfax High School and Hollywood High School.
Alta Loma Road is home to the Sunset Marquis Hotel with its famous 45-person Whisky Bar and NightBird Recording Studios, an underground music production facility. Alta Loma Road was one of the main locations for the film Perfect.
The western stretch of Melrose Avenue, between Fairfax Avenue and Doheny Drive, is notable for its trendy clothing boutiques, interior design shops, restaurants and antique stores. The west end of Melrose Avenue, near the Pacific Design Center, is especially known for its exclusive furniture.
The area around Fountain Avenue, Harper Avenue and Havenhurst Drive contains a high concentration of landmark 1920s Spanish Revival and Art Deco apartment buildings by such noted architects as Leland Bryant. This historic district has been home to many celebrities and at one time the Sunset Tower at 8358 Sunset Boulevard was home to Frank Sinatra, Errol Flynn, the Gabor sisters, John Wayne and Howard Hughes.
Notable business and attractions in West Hollywood include: The Sunset StripHotels such as Andaz West Hollywood, Chamberlain West Hollywood Hotel, Mondrian, Montrose West Hollywood and the Standard. Music venues include: The Whisky a Go Go, The Troubadour, The Roxy Theatre and Viper Room.