Whitley Heights

in Hollywood

For a taste of Old Hollywood, wander the narrow, winding streets of Whitley Heights, a residential preservation zone bordered by Franklin Ave to the south, Highland Ave to the west, and split in two by the 101 freeway to the north and east. Peppered with beautiful Moorish, Renaissance and Italianate-style villas, this was the city's first 'Beverly Hills,' a salubrious estate designed by architect AS Barnes in the early 1900s and inspired by Mediterranean villages.

The neighborhood's proximity to silent-era movie studios made it popular with the day's stars. Among its silver-screen residents was heartthrob Valentino, whose home on Wedgewood Pl was demolished to make way for the 101 freeway. Acclaimed actor Marie Dressler lived at 6809 Iris Circle, while Jean Harlow reputedly called 2015 Whitley Ave home. Watsonia Tce is an especially beautiful street in the neighborhood, framed by lush gardens and houses that wouldn't look out of place in Italy. Of particular note is Villa Vallombrosa at number 2074, a Venetian-inspired mansion designed by architect Nathan Coleman and home (at different stages) to screenwriter Ben Hecht, Hollywood fashion designer Gilbert Adrian and composer Leonard Bernstein. Close by, number 2058 was Gloria Swanson's base while filming Sunset Boulevard.