Introduction and Inventory

What was in its beginnings part of the southernmost platting within the boundaries of Los Angeles as it was incorporated on April 4, 1850, "Adams Street" appeared on maps as early as 1857, if not before, running through a bucolic agricultural plain a long carriage ride from the pueblo. It was one of several roads honoring U.S. presidents running southeast to northwest south of the downtown plaza toward which the city's expanding population moved in force after the establishment of the University of Southern California near Agricultural Park in 1880. Eventually divided into East Adams Street and West Adams Street with a directional demarcation at Main as per city practice, the 7.8-mile-long roadway was by the mid 1920s officially designated a boulevard, having become the signature thoroughfare of the original "West Los Angeles" as the city expanded beyond Hoover Street; pre-freeway traffic engineers had by then included it among the drags marked as major automobile and truck routes as the city expanded toward the Pacific. (Among other streets upgraded to boulevard status were 10th, which became Olympic Boulevard; Pico; 16th Street, which became Venice; Washington; and Jefferson.)

Pepper trees lined picturesque Adams Street from its early days as an agricultural road; parts would

Developing contemporaneously in the 1890s with the much-better-known "West Adams" was a district referred to as "South Los Angeles," a main thoroughfare of which was East Adams Street. A mile-and-a-quarter stretch of Victorian cottages, interspersed with a number of larger residences, went up along Adams from Main Street toward its eastern terminus at Long Beach Avenue, with perhaps hundreds if not thousands of additional houses to the north, toward downtown, and in neighborhoods extending far to the south. East Adams Boulevard remains the residential backbone of a vast area of Victorian housing, still, fascinatingly, intact and unheralded. With that district building up with mostly small-scale houses suiting the needs of employees of firms in the industrial zone at the Los Angeles River at its eastern end, and with West Adams and its University District staked out by the rich, the advent of the automobile and thus demands for better paving spurred high-end development miles west along Adams Street. Real estate speculation along its entire length was especially intense between 1890 and 1910.

The transition from a rural to a suburban southwest Los Angeles depended, of course, on water supplies for a dense population that would not be able to rely on the windmill-driven private wells found on farms and larger suburban properties into the 20th century. 

While incorporated into a developing West Adams streetscape in an attractive way after evolving
from primitive earthen ditches, zanjas became notorious for collecting detritus, becoming
maintenance-intensive hazards in which mosquitoes would breed and, as would
happen from time to time, children and small animals would drown. The
newer cement conduits running along the south side of Adams
Street west from Figueroa to Hoover survived into the
20th century before being filled and replaced
with more sanitary enclosed mains.

Over the course of 40 years from the early 1880s larger dwellings, many very grand indeed, were built all the way out along Adams from Main Street toward Culver City. The accepted stretches of Adams District fashion moved rapidly along the Adams corridor toward Figueroa and beyond, the largest houses coming to be built in two sections of what became the fashionable linear West Adams District, one between Main and Hoover, the other centered around Arlington Avenue. The heyday of residential West Adams Boulevard came after virtually all traces of the agricultural beginnings of the district had disappeared.  By 1914 it was clear to real estate investors that the most expensive West Adams neighborhoods in particular—seemingly in place forever and immutable—could face stiff competition as new subdivisions along the Wilshire Boulevard corridor began to open in rapid succession, including Windsor Square and Fremont Place. Though still considered too far for comfortable commuting in the automobiles of the day, Beverly Hills, where lot sales had begun eight years before, was incorporated in 1914. Significantly, given that its membership was then largely still living in West Adams near its former location, the Los Angeles Country Club had opened at its current location on the far side of Beverly Hills in 1911.

On August 6, 1916, the Los Angeles Times ran a feature on the recent efforts of 38 of the richest property owners along Adams Street—including William May Garland, Isidore Dockweiler, Randolph H. Miner, and Edward Doheny—to upgrade it to what they envisioned as an actual divided boulevard well before "West Adams Street" became "West Adams Boulevard" officially. Financed by these householders and not by the city, the first 15-foot-wide medians were installed between Figueroa and Hoover streets in 1914, with owners between Figueroa and Grand Avenue soon adopting the scheme. On May 15, 1914, the public works department of the city council classified Adams for engineering purposes as a boulevard, if not yet in name, and gave its approval for a program that was to cost the city nothing except perhaps for additional future upkeep. Contracted for by Edward Doheny himself, bronze lamp standards of a six-round-globe variety that was retro even for 1916 were in place westward from Figueroa by that summer and would soon be placed along the stretch toward Grand; they were said to be duplicates of electroliers found along Chicago's glamorous Michigan Avenue. In 1917 the street would be further raised in stature by a shade-tree program extending from Hoover toward the Palms district, annexed to the city in May 1915. Interestingly, these trees would be replacing expired or cleared peppers that had lined Adams for decades from its early rural days, in some places forming a near canopy over the road.

There was little protest over their property assessments being raised, but the owners who self-financed the improvements could not yet have been aware that traffic planners would be pushing Adams Street as one of a number of major crosstown routes that would eventually drain West Adams and other districts close to downtown of a critical mass of well-heeled residents, not to mention affecting their quality of life along the old road. An upgraded Adams itself would lead to new subdivisions within its borders such as Lafayette Square, Wellington Square, and Victoria Park. But as more modern and reliable automobiles multiplied exponentially—promoted tirelessly by the Automobile Club of Southern California whose massive headquarters opened, not insignificantly, at the southwest corner of Adams and Figueroa in 1923—and as the population of Los Angeles began to more than double during the 1920s, the handwriting was on the wall even before the Great Depression cast its pall over West Adams once if not for all.

What was at first merely a line on a map was then a dirt roadway for several decades; it remained
largely unpaved until after medians and elaborate lighting appeared from 1914-16, legitimizing
 Adams Street's later upgrade to Boulevard with extravagant verdure and considerable charm.

When the major lateral arteries of Los Angeles were further widened and promoted in the city's Major Traffic Street Plan of 1924, resulting in Adams Street actually being re-signed as Adams Boulevard, it might have been hoped by some property owners that the nomenclature involved in the newest upgrade—intended to accommodate cars, not to enhance image, as their makeover of the prewar years was meant to—would further bolster the old grandeur and help slow the decline of the older of the various neighborhoods along its route, which were, ironically, at the peak of their leafy attractiveness. But as the housing stock aged and the population of the city exploded during the decade and householders cashed out and moved to newer precincts to the north and west, any such hopes attendant to the promotion of Street to Boulevard proved to be in vain, especially after Black Tuesday. A small residential section along the Adams corridor anchored by the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, including gated Berkeley Square, held on through the Depression, but Old Guard diehards were relatively few in number. What little was left of the withering, once-salubrious heart of the linear Adams district, centering on the intersection of the Boulevard and Figueroa Street, was destroyed once excavation for the Harbor Freeway began after the State Highway Commission announced that, as reported in the Times on June 24, 1950, the highway would "literally...make a bow to the University of Southern California.... The bend over to Flower St. [south from downtown] is being avoid interfering with plans for the future development and expansion of either the University of Southern California or the university housing facilities, including the fraternity and sorority row development along both sides of 28th St. and west of Figueroa." While rumors circulated as to the influence of telephone-operator-turned-papal-countess Estelle Doheny attempting to spare her Chester Place fiefdom, the key to the altered route was no doubt the university and the power of its fraternity alumni now spread throughout an establishment trying to balance progress with collegiate nostalgia. To that cohort, now living in newer suburbs such as Windsor Square, Hancock Park, on the Westside, and elsewhere, Adams Boulevard had long since become déclassé as a residential boulevard except in that, since the 1920s, its big residences had been repurposed as fraternities before the decision to consolidated them on the 28th Street row was made. 
With emphasis on the more contemporary meaning of the second word, so it seems, sic transit gloria Adams Boulevard.

An article appeared in the Los Angeles Times on June 13, 1914, describing impending upgrades
to Adams Street that included elaborately landscaped center medians and parkways, new
lighting, and other amenities from Grand Street toward the east, running west to
at least Hoover. The stretch above is west of Normandie Avenue, where
the Los Angeles Railway turns onto Adams from downtown. At
left can just be seen 2205 West Adams; at right, 2190.

ADAMS BOULEVARD: AN INVENTORY OF ITS HOUSES is a work in progress; we will be cataloging the residential street westward beginning on East Adams Boulevard, adding regularly to the images in our inventory below. Addresses in red are active links to completed histories.

1515 East Adams Boulevard

1339 East Adams Boulevard

1335 East Adams Boulevard

1331 East Adams Boulevard

1323 and 1325 East Adams Boulevard

1322 East Adams Boulevard

1321 East Adams Boulevard

1315 East Adams Boulevard

1266 East Adams Boulevard

1262 East Adams Boulevard

1255 East Adams Boulevard

1254 East Adams Boulevard

1234 East Adams Boulevard

1231 East Adams Boulevard

1227 East Adams Boulevard

1219 East Adams Boulevard

1206 East Adams Boulevard

1200 East Adams Boulevard

1163 East Adams Boulevard

1154 East Adams Boulevard

1152 East Adams Boulevard

1144 East Adams Boulevard

1143 East Adams Boulevard

1140 East Adams Boulevard

1139 East Adams Boulevard

1123 East Adams Boulevard

1120 East Adams Boulevard

1018 East Adams Boulevard

1017 East Adams Boulevard

1012 East Adams Boulevard

1008 East Adams Boulevard

931 East Adams Boulevard

916 East Adams Boulevard

912 East Adams Boulevard

907 East Adams Boulevard

903 East Adams Boulevard

848 East Adams Boulevard

844 East Adams Boulevard

837 East Adams Boulevard

834 East Adams Boulevard

827 East Adams Boulevard

824 East Adams Boulevard

818 East Adams Boulevard

814 East Adams Boulevard

808 East Adams Boulevard

807 East Adams Boulevard

800 East Adams Boulevard

755 East Adams Boulevard

752 East Adams Boulevard

751 East Adams Boulevard

747 East Adams Boulevard

741 East Adams Boulevard

740 East Adams Boulevard

737 East Adams Boulevard

711 East Adams Boulevard

705 East Adams Street

665 East Adams Boulevard

660 East Adams Boulevard

630 East Adams Boulevard

626 East Adams Boulevard

620 East Adams Boulevard

616 East Adams Boulevard

609 East Adams Boulevard

608 East Adams Boulevard

459 East Adams Boulevard

453 East Adams Boulevard

450 East Adams Boulevard

445 East Adams Boulevard

444 East Adams Boulevard

440 East Adams Booulevard

433 East Adams Boulevard

430 East Adams Boulevard

426 East Adams Boulevard

420 East Adams Boulevard

261 East Adams Boulevard

255 East Adams Boulevard

246 East Adams Boulevard

243 East Adams Boulevard

242 East Adams Boulevard

237 East Adams Boulevard

233 East Adams Boulevard

223 East Adams Boulevard

219 East Adams Boulevard

215 East Adams Boulevard

209 East Adams Boulevard

205 East Adams Boulevard

127 East Adams Boulevard

116 East Adams Boulevard




222 West Adams Boulevard

710 West Adams Boulevard

711 West Adams Street

718 West Adams Boulevard

19 Chester Place

734 West Adams Street

734 West Adams Boulevard

745 West Adams Boulevard

746 West Adams Boulevard

747 West Adams Street

755 West Adams Boulevard

758 West Adams Boulevard

806 West Adams Boulevard

815 West Adams Boulevard

818 West Adams Boulevard

819 West Adams Street

825 West Adams Boulevard

832 West Adams Boulevard

840 West Adams Boulevard

854 West Adams Boulevard

870 West Adams Boulevard

880 West Adams Boulevard

900 West Adams Boulevard

931 West Adams Boulevard

949 West Adams Boulevard

957 West Adams Boulevard

1007 West Adams Street

1100 West Adams Boulevard

1119 West Adams Street

1124 West Adams Boulevard

1131 West Adams Boulevard

1140 West Adams Boulevard

1141 West Adams Boulevard

1150 West Adams Boulevard

1151 West Adams Street

West Adams Gardens

1180 West Adams Boulevard

1190 West Adams Boulevard

1200 West Adams Boulevard

1221 West Adams Boulevard

1229 West Adams Boulevard

1235 West Adams Boulevard

1245 West Adams Boulevard

1256 West Adams Boulevard

1257 West Adams Boulevard

1263 West Adams Boulevard

1264 West Adams Boulevard

1267 West Adams Boulevard

1277 West Adams Boulevard

2615 Ellendale Place

1301 West Adams Boulevard

1315 West Adams Boulevard

1325 West Adams Boulevard

1342 West Adams Boulevard

1347 West Adams Boulevard

1360 West Adams Boulevard

1363 West Adams Boulevard

1386 West Adams Boulevard

1404 West Adams Boulevard

1424 West Adams Street

1470 West Adams Boulevard

1475 West Adams Street

1483 West Adams Boulevard

1500 West Adams Boulevard

1506 West Adams Boulevard

1510 West Adams Boulevard

1516 West Adams Boulevard

1528 West Adams Boulevard

1581 West Adams Boulevard

1593 West Adams Boulevard

1661 West Adams Boulevard

1662 West Adams Boulevard

1686 West Adams Boulevard/2012 South Victoria Avenue

1701 West Adams Boulevard

1733 West Adams Boulevard

1737-39 West Adams Boulevard

1801 West Adams Boulevard

1814 West Adams Boulevard

1815 West Adams Boulevard

2601 Dalton Avenue

1841 West Adams Boulevard

2445 South Western Avenue

2000 West Adams Street

2025 West Adams Boulevard

2055 West Adams Boulevard

2070 West Adams Street

2076 West Adams Boulevard

2080 West Adams Street

2081 West Adams Boulevard

2091 West Adams Boulevard

2105 West Adams Boulevard

2141 West Adams Boulevard

2146 West Adams Boulevard

2155 West Adams Street

2156 West Adams Boulevard

2180 West Adams Boulevard

2190 West Adams Boulevard

2193 West Adams Street

2205 West Adams Boulevard

2234 West Adams Boulevard

3100 West Adams Boulevard

3101 West Adams Boulevard

3115 West Adams Boulevard

3125 West Adams Boulevard

3200 West Adams Boulevard

3210 West Adams Boulevard

3300 West Adams Boulevard

3301 West Adams Boulevard

3315 West Adams Boulevard

3320 West Adams Boulevard

3321 West Adams Boulevard

3330 West Adams Boulevard

3406 West Adams Boulevard

3424 West Adams Boulevard

3425 West Adams Boulevard

Illustrations on this page are from one of the following sources:
LATCDNCLOCHMW; DRMC; and Private Collections