Westwood, Los Angeles, California
Westwood, or Westwood Village, is a district in western Los Angeles, California. It is bounded by Brentwood on the west, Bel-Air on the north, Century City on the east, West Los Angeles on the southeast, and unincorporated Sawtelle on the south and southwest. Major thoroughfares are Wilshire, Westwood, and Sunset Boulevards. The San Diego Freeway runs just outside the southwestern boundary of the district.
Developed by the Janss family in the 1920s, it is best known as the home of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). A center of movie-going in West Los Angeles and the site of many movie premieres, Westwood is home to several vintage theaters, including the Pacific Crest, the Fox Village and the Bruin. The district is also home to the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, the last resting place of many of Hollywood's biggest stars. The area's permanent residents are generally quite affluent, living in high-rise apartment buildings and some of the more luxurious single-family houses in Los Angeles. The single-family homes tend to be north and northeast of UCLA.
The winding two-mile section of Wilshire Boulevard to the southeast of the Village is dominated by residential high-rises; it is traditionally known as the Golden Mile or the Wilshire Corridor. High-rise condominium penthouses in the corridor routinely sell for amounts in excess of $20 million.
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. Even with the opening of numerous municipal parking structures in the 1990s and 2000s, finding a parking spot in Westwood is still a notoriously difficult task, and parking and traffic issues dominate local planning debates.
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, 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. Some residents hold to a conspiracy theory that Westwood's '90s doldrums were a consquence of local developers intentionally depressing local businesses in hopes forcing them to sell out so that they could overtake whole blocks and implement plans for large mixed-used complexes.
Today, while Westwood is again regarded as one of the safest neighborhoods in the city, its retail sector has been slow to recover in the face of increased competition from Century City, the newly revitalized Culver City and mid-city attractions like The Grove.
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