That Westside college town

The street scene along Westwood Boulevard.
Special to The Times

The basics

Westwood was carved from the old Wolfskill Farm, a 3,000-plus-acre tract that was purchased in 1919 by wealthy retailer Arthur Letts. Letts’ son-in-law, Harold Janss, was vice president of Janss Investment Co., which developed the area and started advertising new homes in 1922.

Drawing card

The location combines access to UCLA with a range of housing, from 1930s estate-sized mansions and modern penthouses to simple single apartments. Bordered by Beverly Hills to the east, Brentwood to the west and Century City to the south, Westwood is convenient to employment, shopping and night life.

The UCLA campus, which opened its doors in 1929, is a feast for the eyes and the intellect. World renowned, with about 3,000 faculty members, the university offers about 180 majors to more than 37,000 students. Classic Mediterranean architecture is set among 419 acres of stunning gardens and vast lawns.

Hot spots

South of campus is Westwood Village, with classic Spanish Modern architecture. Landmarks such as Fox Theatre, built in 1931, remain today as a showcase of Hollywood’s heyday.

Within the Village are 10 movie theaters, the Armand Hammer Museum and Geffen Playhouse. Casual cuisine choices span the globe from Middle Eastern kebabs to New York pizza. Pricier options include Palomino Euro Bistro and, for French fare, Moustache Café.

Beyond the Village, the “Wilshire corridor” is lined with stunning high-rise condominiums and apartments, many surrounded by ribbons of flowers and landscaping. With views from the Pacific Ocean to downtown, and valet service around the clock, the units are some of the most posh and expensive in the country.

On the market

Westwood has 10,602 households. In late August, 27 single-family homes were for sale, ranging from $695,000 to $3.6 million. Of those, 19 were listed for more than $800,000. About 133 condominiums were available, including 43 units for more than $1 million. Prices ranged from $218,000 for a cozy one-bedroom on Veteran Avenue to $15.9 million for a 7,800-square-foot Wilshire penthouse.

Stock report

Homes and units for every taste ring the campus. Those built by Janss in the 1930s advertised: “Buy now at pre-university prices; choose your home before the big crowd comes in beautiful Westwood Hills.” Streets named for the English heritage of the founders, including Holmby, Comstock and Strathmore, feature grand estates built in the 1920s and ‘30s. Several apartments built in the era remain today, with some historic properties showcasing Spanish and Mediterranean architecture.

Good news, bad news

Development continues to change the face of the area. Zoning has been refined over the years to accommodate demand for the university and surrounding area. The Westwood Village shopping, business and entertainment district fell on hard times in the late 1980s. Today it is bustling anew with several retailers and restaurants, plus a farmers market on Thursday afternoons. Newly opened businesses include Whole Foods, Ralphs, Expo and Best Buy. The Santa Monica Boulevard transit and parkway renovation is in progress, promising increased access and new vitality.

Report card

Westwood public schools are part of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Scores on the 2002 Academic Performance Index ranged from 867 to 893 out of a possible 1,000 for the elementary schools, with Emerson Junior High scoring 584. University High scored 587.

Historical values

Single-family detached resales for the 90024 and 90025 ZIP codes:

Year...Median Price






*year to date

Sources: DataQuick Information Systems; ; Westwood/Holmby Hills Historical Society; U.S. Census Bureau; , , .