West Los Angeles History
The district is bordered by Santa Monica on the west, Brentwood on the northwest, the unincorporated Sawtelle Veterans Administration grounds on the north, Westwood on the northeast, Rancho Park on the east and southeast, and Mar Vista on the south and southeast. Its generally accepted boundaries are the San Diego Freeway on the east, the Santa Monica Freeway on the south, the city limits of Santa Monica on the west, and Wilshire Boulevard on the north.
Its major thoroughfares are Olympic, Santa Monica, Pico, Wilshire, and Sawtelle Boulevards, Barrington and Bundy Drive.
After the area's colonization by the Spanish, most of what is now West Los Angeles became part of the Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica. With the arrival of Anglo settlers after the Mexican-American War, the original Californio landowners sold out, or were forced from their holdings, and by the beginning of the 20th century the area was mostly bean and wheat fields. Many Japanese immigrants settled in the district, establishing orchards and nurseries in the process. Some of these nurseries are still in business today, along the stretch of Sawtelle Boulevard between Olympic and Santa Monica Boulevards.
The core of what is now West Los Angeles, including the West Los Angeles government center at Santa Monica and Purdue, was incorporated as the City of Sawtelle. In the 1920s, West L.A. was annexed by the City of Los Angeles.
As with most parts of the Westside, West Los Angeles is an affluent neighborhood. Its central location has made it a locus of commercial development, with several high-rise office buildings along Olympic, Santa Monica, and Wilshire Boulevards. It also contains a large number of Japanese-owned businesses. A satellite congregation of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, one of the most prominent Reform Jewish congregations in Southern California, occupies the northeast corner of Olympic and Barrington.
Housing in West Los Angeles is a mixture of low-rise apartment buildings, mostly inhabited by young professionals and working-class families, and single-story tract house developments built between late 1920 and 1960. Two of Los Angeles's tallest residential towers are at the neighborhood's northern edge, at the intersection of Wilshire and Barrington. There is a trend toward greater density, as single-family houses get replaced by apartment buildings, or apartment buildings by taller ones, as building sites become available through demolition.