A Little Bit Of Country In The Big City
One of the cultural epicenters on the West Coast, located for the most part in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains, Brentwood also has a bit of a country feel, with its streets that meander over the hills past bountiful shrubs and trees. Brentwood as we know it today got its start in the early 1900s when the Westgate streetcar line was built in what is now the coral tree median along San Vicente Boulevard. This allowed new residents easy access to Santa Monica and downtown Los Angeles. The subdivisions Westgate and Brentwood Park were under construction in 1905 and 1906, respectively, and other tracts soon followed. Known in its day for its insistence on unpaved roads, and its unique ovals and circles in its streets, Brentwood residents voted in 1916 to be annexed by the city of Los Angeles in order to obtain municipal services. As part of the deal, L.A. took charge of the streets, paving and curbing them and removing eight of the existing ovals and circles, leaving four ovals and four circles.
As World War I began, most of lower Brentwood had been laid out. Spanish Colonial Revival, English Tudor, and French Country-style architecture were popular. After the war, tastes had changed and most new homes were Craftsman style. Upper Brentwood, with its spectacular views of the city and ocean, was mostly developed after World War II.
Situated immediately west of the San Diego Freeway, Brentwood’s boundaries are the Getty Center and Mt. St. Mary’s college to the north, Topanga State Park on the west, and the Brentwood Country Club (a focal point for the community for decades) on the south. The community is split in two by Sunset Boulevard. Brentwood’s major commercial street, San Vicente, serves as a kind of border in terms of housing types — below San Vicente is mostly apartments; above, mostly single-family homes.
Who Lives Here?
Many upper-level professionals call Brentwood home, and it is also chockfull of people who work in the entertainment industry. The community is popular with families. “We have a lot of entertainment-industry people who started their careers and their married lives in communities further east, such as in Los Feliz and Silverlake,” says a local Realtor. “Once they get further in their careers and start having children, they migrate here. When you come to Brentwood, you’re not just buying an estate, you’re buying a lifestyle — an all-American lifestyle with the right social address, high-quality schools, easy access to shopping, services, and to the beach.” Adds another local Realtor, “We have Barrington Park for kids’ leagues and beautiful canyons for hiking and biking. Our main thoroughfare, San Vicente, is a popular and safe place to jog.”
Among many other celebrities who once lived or are currently living in Brentwood: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, Jim Carrey, Harrison Ford, Rob Reiner, Marilyn Monroe, and Shirley Temple.
Shopping and Dining
San Vicente Boulevard is home to many exclusive shops and good restaurants. Of special note is the Brentwood Country Mart (San Vicente at 26th Street), a big red barn-like structure housing shops and restaurants. This local landmark was established in 1948 and maintains its rustic charm. “It also functions as an informal community center,” says a local Realtor.
Brentwood neighborhoods include Brentwood Park (the most expensive), Brentwood Flats, Brentwood Circle, Brentwood Glen, Brentwood Country Estates, Mountaingate, Mandeville Canyon, Upper Mandeville Canyon, and Bundy Canyon.