Charming, with a fabled past

Times Staff Writer

The rumor persists that a scene from “The Wizard of Oz” was filmed on Shakespeare Bridge in Franklin Hills. Although by all accounts it was filmed at MGM’s Culver City studios, this whisper of mystique seems a perfect fit for a place that most certainly would never be mistaken for Kansas.

A bit of history

There’s an unspoken appreciation for the past in L.A.'s Los Feliz neighborhood of Franklin Hills, kept alive by landmarks such as the Shakespeare Bridge. Built in 1926 and also known as the Franklin Avenue Bridge, the Shakespeare name has taken over, attributed to its looks -- narrow, one lane each way, with white gothic arches visible from hills away. It is sensible yet charming, much like Franklin Hills itself.

Another project of the 1920s still very much alive today in Franklin Hills is the public stairway system, originally created to give residents access to trolley cars below. Today the steps are used by residents looking for a cardio workout or for pedestrian shortcuts.


Brothers Walt and Roy Disney had homes next door to each other on Lyric Avenue in the 1920s, allowing them to walk to work down the road at the first Disney Studios. As for the filming of “The Wizard of Oz,” there is skepticism all around, including from sources at MGM, Warner Bros., Turner Entertainment, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Conservancy, but no on-record, outright denial of the bridge’s use in the film. A little folklore fits in pretty nicely here.

What it’s about

Franklin Hills lies within the desirable Los Feliz ZIP Code of 90027. Homes high atop Franklin Avenue provide expansive views of the Hollywood lights and beyond.

Adjacent to Hollywood, and close to Burbank and downtown L.A., Franklin Hills is a convenient place to live. But for residents who regularly stroll the steep roads, it is obvious that convenience is not the reason they chose Franklin Hills to call home.

Insiders’ view

Diane Kerr grew up in the neighborhood in the 1960s. Her mother, a 65-year Franklin Hills resident, “wouldn’t live anywhere else.” Kerr describes the area as “kind of a secret” -- until about 10 or so years ago when neighboring Silver Lake became hip, she said.

Kerr herself has never lived more than two miles away from Franklin Hills and has watched the community change. There aren’t many kids in the neighborhood today, she notes, not like the days of her youth.

Twentysomething television director and documentary filmmaker (“To Touch the Soul”) Ryan Goble, a Franklin Hills resident, says he enjoys weekend jogging around his community and describes it as “quiet.”

Good news, bad news

Although crime isn’t a particular neighborhood concern, there have been several LAPD reports of theft from automobiles since the beginning of the year. Graffiti is another occasional problem. Franklin Hills has tackled the issue; City Councilman Tom LaBonge has declared it a “Graffiti Free Zone,” a move that brings more funds to clean up graffiti.

Housing stock

The homes in Franklin Hills are an eclectic mix, including Mission-style residences from the 1920s, very contemporary structures and much in between.

Included in the 13 homes currently on the market in Franklin Hills are a 1938 Southern Colonial with three bedrooms and two bathrooms for $1,219,000 and a contemporary Midcentury circa 1963, also with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, for $919,000.

Report card

Franklin Hills is part of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Franklin Avenue Elementary and Los Feliz Elementary scored 837 and 770, respectively, out of a possible 1,000 on the 2007 Academic Performance Index Growth Report.

Thomas Starr King Middle School scored 628; John Marshall Senior High scored 653.



Sources: Franklin Hills Residents Assn.,;; Paul A. Kellogg, Coldwell Banker,;