Brentwood is a district in western Los Angeles, California, United States; it should not be confused with the City of Brentwood located in the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California, or the Brentwood area of Victorville, California.
The Los Angeles district is located at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains, bounded by the San Diego Freeway on the east, Wilshire Boulevard on the south, the Santa Monica city limits on the southwest, the border of Topanga State Park on the west and Mulholland Drive along the ridgeline of the mountains on the north.
Newest Listings in Brentwood:
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Nearby neighborhoods and cities include Pacific Palisades on the west, Santa Monica on the south, West Los Angeles and Sawtelle on the southeast, Westwood on the east, Bel-Air on the northeast and Encino on the north.
Mail to the Brentwood district is addressed, Los Angeles, CA 90049 to avoid confusion with the municipality of the same name in Northern California.
The area that is now Brentwood was part of the Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica, a Spanish land-grant ranch sold off in pieces by the Sepulveda family after the Mexican-American War. Development began following the establishment of the large 600-acre (2.4 km2) Pacific Branch of the National Home for Disabled Soldiers and Sailors in the 1880s. A small community sprang up outside that facility’s west gate, taking on the name Westgate. Annexed by the City of Los Angeles on June 14, 1916, Westgate’s 127 km2 (49 mi2) included large parts of what is now the Pacific Palisades and a small portion of today’s Bel-Air. Westgate Avenue is one of the last reminders of the area’s former namesake. The Sunset Fields Golf Club, now the Brentwood Country Club, hosted the running part of the modern penatahlon event at the 1932 Summer Olympics.
Originally planted with soybeans and avocados, Brentwood is now one of the prominent districts of the Westside and among the wealthiest neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles. It has prosperous commercial districts along each of its major east-west thoroughfares, Wilshire Boulevard, San Vicente Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard.
Though there is no direct connection, the name Brentwood harks to Brentwood of Essex, England, a town on the outskirts of London dating back to Saxon times. Many local streets reflect this ersatz British heritage, including Barrington, Gorham, and Bristol.
Local traditions include the annual decoration of San Vicente Boulevard’s historic coral trees with holiday lights and a Maypole erected each year on the lawn of the Archer School for Girls, carrying on the tradition set by the Eastern Star Home that was previously housed there. (Classic film lovers are familiar with this building as the exterior establishing shot for the “Mar Vista Rest Home” that provides a key scene in the 1974 film Chinatown.) Inspired by the community of veterans resident at the former Soldiers and Sailors Home, now a United States Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Brentwood once regularly hosted a Memorial Day parade, complete with a string of classic cars and an elephant named Tiny; the tradition is now only sporadically practiced due to funding.
Brentwood received notoriety in 1994 when Nicole Brown Simpson, ex-wife of football legend O.J. Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman were found stabbed to death outside her Bundy Drive condominium. Simpson was arrested for the murders and later acquitted by a jury in a heavily-publicized trial.
1961 Brentwood-Bel Air fire
On November 6, 1961, a construction crew working in Sherman Oaks in the San Fernando Valley north of Brentwood on the far side of the Santa Monica Mountains noticed smoke and flames in a nearby pile of rubbish. Within minutes, Santa Ana winds gusting up to 60 mph (100 km/h) sent burning brush aloft and over the ridge into Brentwood.
More than 300 police officers helped evacuate 3,500 residents during the 12-hour fire, and more than 2,500 firefighters battled the blaze, pumping water from neighborhood swimming pools to douse flames. Pockets of the fire smoldered for several days. Even as firefighters battled what was to become the Bel-Air disaster, a separate fire had erupted simultaneously in Santa Ynez Canyon to the west, further straining local firefighting resources. That blaze was contained the next day after consuming nearly 10,000 acres (40 km2) and nine structures and burning to within a mile of the inferno raging in Bel-Air and Brentwood.
At least 200 firefighters were injured but no one was killed and 78 percent of the homes were saved. Still, the fires were the fifth worst conflagration in the nation’s history at the time, burning 16,090 acres (65 km2), destroying more than 484 homes and 190 other structures and causing an estimated $30 million in damage.
Brentwood, like nearby Santa Monica, has a temperate climate influenced by marine breezes off the Pacific Ocean. Residents frequently wake to a “marine layer,” a cover of clouds brought in at night which burns off by mid-morning. The topography is generally split into two characters, broadly divided by Sunset Boulevard: the area north of Sunset is defined by ridges and canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains; south of Sunset the area is relatively flat. The southern district features underground springs which bubble up into a small creek along “the Gully” near the Brentwood Country Club, and in the “Indian Springs” portion of the University High School campus, formerly the site of a Native American Tongva village.
San Vicente Boulevard is considered the “Main Street” of Brentwood and is divided by a wide median on which stand many large and attractively sculpted coral trees. This green belt replaced a derelict Pacific Electric trolley track, its trees evolving into a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. Brentwood boosters have adopted a coral tree silhouette as a de facto community logo. Intersecting Bundy Drive is lined with extremely tall Washingtonia robusta palms.
Brentwood features a number of residential subdistricts, some as small as a few blocks, others ranging over acres of hills:
- Brentwood Circle: Gated community east of Barrington and north of Sunset.
- Brentwood Country Estates: Gated community in Mandeville Canyon.
- Brentwood Flats
- Brentwood Glen: Part of Brentwood that is bounded by Sunset, the 405 Freeway and the Veterans Administration
- Brentwood Heights
- Brentwood Highlands
- Brentwood Hills: Home to Mount St. Mary’s College and the Getty Center.
- Brentwood Park: Notable for its layout, having been designed around several large traffic circles, a handful of which remain; the area between Sunset and San Vicente west of Kenter/Bundy.
- Brentwood Sunset: Gated community north of San Vicente Blvd.
- Brentwood Terrace: Southwest edge of Brentwood, bounded by San Vicente Blvd, Montana Ave, the Brentwood Country Club, and Santa Monica’s 26th Street. Walking distance to the Brentwood Country Mart.
- Bundy Canyon
- Crestwood Hills: Includes a cluster of architecturally significant mid-century modern residences; located in the northern part of Kenter Canyon.
- Kenter Canyon
- Mandeville Canyon: Westernmost part of Brentwood.
- Museum Heights: Contemporary condominiums, located off Sunset Blvd.
- South Brentwood: Between San Vicente and Wilshire Boulevards and the eastern boundary of Santa Monica.
- Sullivan Canyon: A small equestrian community north of Sunset, west of Mandeville Canyon Rd. and east of Pacific Palisades. Most properties are one-story ranch houses, and most houses have horse stables.
- Westgate: Directly to the east of Brentwood Park
- Westridge Hills
- Westridge Heights: Western portions of Mandeville Canyon
Major thoroughfares include Sunset, San Vicente and Wilshire Boulevards; Barrington and Montana Avenues; and Bundy Drive. Brentwood is also situated close to the Wilshire, Montana and Sunset exits of the 405 freeway.
Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus serves Brentwood with its 2, 3, 4, 11, 13, and 14 bus lines. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) buses serve Brentwood include the 20 and 720 lines on Wilshire Blvd. (the latter of which is L.A.’s most successful bus rapid transit line), and several lines along Sunset Blvd.
Once linked to Los Angeles by a Pacific Electric Railway track on San Vicente, Brentwood is now part of a dispute over the future of public transportation in Los Angeles. In a controversial move protested by business owners, but which substantially increased bus speed through the Westside, the Metro has reserved the outermost lane of Wilshire Boulevard through Brentwood in each direction as a bus-only lane during rush hour, in a possible precursor to the adoption of bus rapid transit service with a dedicated lane along the entire length of Wilshire.
The difficulty of getting into and out of Brentwood by any means but private automobile (aggravated by the Metro’s cancellation of several “nanny bus” lines connecting the district to poorer areas of Los Angeles) has led to widespread calls for an extension of the Wilshire Boulevard leg of the Metro Purple Line subway, which currently ends at Western Avenue in Koreatown, through Brentwood to Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica; a Brentwood stop would presumably be sited in the business district near Barrington Avenue. There has been little forward progress by local authorities on making this concept a reality.
According to the Los Angeles Almanac, the 2000 census-year population was just under 42,000, with a population density of about 2,700 people per square mile. The population is about 80 percent white, 9 percent Asian-American, 6 percent Hispanic or Latino, and 1 percent black.
In 2009, the Los Angeles Times’s “Mapping L.A.” project supplied these Brentwood statistics: population: 31,344; median household income: $112,927.
After English, the principal secondary household languages are Spanish and Persian, with Chinese, Japanese, Korean, German, French and Hebrew spoken at home in statistically significant numbers.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Brentwood’s (ZCTA 90049) median household income was $84,342; its median family income was $137,945; and its median per capita income was $75,965 in 1999.
Almost 70 percent of area residents over 25 have college degrees, nearly half that total graduate and professional education. As of the 2000 census, approximately 16 percent of the population over 25 had either a doctorate or a professional degree, 15 percent a master’s degree, 37 percent a bachelor’s degree, 15 percent some college education but no degree, 8 percent a high school diploma alone, and only 5 percent lacked a high school degree.
As of 2000, there were just over 22,000 housing units in Brentwood. Most Brentwood residents reside in single-family homes, though some multi-family homes can also be found. Large, modern apartment complexes and condominiums are found along some of district’s thoroughfares, many home to young professionals and students attending University of California Los Angeles, California State University Los Angeles, and University of Southern California.
The Barrington Recreation Center is located in Brentwood. The center has an indoor gymnasium without weights which may also be used as an auditorium; the building’s capacity is 250. The facility also has a lighted baseball diamond, an unlighted baseball diamond, lighted indoor basketball courts, lighted outdoor basketball courts, a children’s play area, a community room, a lighted American football field, picnic tables, a lighted soccer (football) field, lighted tennis courts, and lighted volleyball courts. The 1.5-acre (0.61 ha) Barrington Dog Park is on the grounds of the recreation center. Around 1978 Suzanne Eisler, a soccer enthusiast wrote a letter that helped persuade the Veterans Administration (VA) to lease 12 acres (4.9 ha) of its Brentwood complex so tht Barrington Park could receive an expansion. When the VA proposed a sale of the land, residents campaigned to block the sale so that Barrington Park would not be dismantled. From 1952 to 1968, researchers from the VA and the University of California, Los Angeles dumped biomedical waste from radiation experiments on a plot of land that now includes the Brentwood Dog Park and the athletic fields of the Brentwood School. In 2006 the federal government began testing the land that was the site of the burial.
Popular recreational spots include the Brentwood Country Mart, an early farmer’s market complex built in 1947 (and recently remodeled and expanded); the Brentwood Village, a small shopping district near the intersection of Sunset and Barrington; and more recently, Brentwood Green, a “village commons” created from the playground at Brentwood Science Magnet Elementary School. There is also a tented farmer’s market held each Sunday on a strip of Gretna Green Way between Brentwood Science Magnet and the Brentwood Country Club. The 2.7-mile (4.3 km)-long (4.3 km) boundary of the private Brentwood Country Club is a popular local jogging route. The internationally renowned Getty Museum is located in the hills high above Brentwood, near the 405 freeway and the Sepulveda Pass.
Economy and businesses
Brent-Air Pharmacy, run by the founding Lassoff family from its inception up until June 2007, has served Brentwood for more than 50 years. The drug store has been the scene of many famous scandals and, like its defunct West Hollywood cousin Schwab’s, is known as the pharmacy to the stars, where many now-notable actors and actresses worked as delivery boys or “candy counter” girls.
Vicente Foods is an independently owned and operated grocery market that has served Brentwood for decades.
A popular area for dining and coffee for local residents is located in Brentwood Village at the intersection of Barrington and Sunset. More than a dozen restaurants and coffee shops are located within a two-block stretch offering a wide variety of cuisine.
Dutton’s Brentwood Books, a local landmark called by Sunset magazine “the last of the truly independent bookstores,” closed its doors in April, 2008.
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