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
remain unpaved into the automobile age although as the exurban streetscape gave way to one
accommodating the demands of suburbanites, amenities such as concrete curbing and
sidewalks began to appear during the 1880s. A view circa 1890 reflects the
evolving street, which would be macadamized and developed as far
as Washington Boulevard as Los Angeles annexed more and
more county land over the next 30 years, and with
the Los Angeles Railway being extended from
its turn onto Adams from Normandie
to run as far as four blocks
west of La Brea.

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; even as cottages went up on East Adams near Central Avenue circa 1902, huge houses on elaborately landscaped in-town estates of two or three acres were being erected west of Western Avenue. 

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. This would entail an extension of Zanja 8-R, running from the Los Angeles River via a reservoir—a remnant of which survives as the lake in Echo Park—and Figueroa Street, westward on the south side of Adams Street from Figueroa to at least as far as Hoover Street. In residential districts, zanjas were often found not underground but in the form of open two-foot-wide, eighteen-inch-deep ornamental conduits over which small concrete bridges were placed at carriage and pedestrian entrances. With contamination a concern, some larger households retained their own wells, reserving river water for landscaping purposes. While romanticized by some as babbling brooks, the city was not given to nostalgia; homeowners wanted a state-of-the-art waterworks. The filling in of the Adams zanja came soon after attorney, banker, and U.S. congressman Russell J. Waters of 900 West Adams asked the city council to close it in a meeting on November 18, 1901.

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. 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. Windsor Square and Fremont Place had also had opened that year. Before long, Hancock Park, Holmby Hills, Bel-Air, Brentwood, and Pacific Palisades would grow beyond their drawing-board stages, with there being in addition the new option of Los Feliz, and, as always, Pasadena. It was thought that upgrades to West Adams's signature thoroughfare, if not tradition, would help retain its residents, despite their undoubtedly having taken notice of widely advertised new developments to the north and west, not to mention of their bills for the maintenance of aging wooden houses.

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 the turn of the 20th century, with medians and elaborate lighting
appearing from 1914-16, legitimizing Adams Street's eventual upgrade to boulevard
status. The medians disappeared to accommodate increased traffic about
20 years later, the lamps being removed by the 1950s, along
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, would try to hang on to its dignity, with some expensive houses being built by the city's social Old Guard as late as the early '30s even as most of its cohort had departed for newer districts. By this time the Dohenys had long since co-opted Chester Place as their own fiefdom, even as "aristocratic" St. James Park deteriorated on one of their flanks along with the easterly Adams District on the other. If the old and by-now neglected houses of the boulevard weren't demolished and replaced with cheap but profitable apartment houses, they were converted to flats or rest homes or fraternity houses and other institutional uses. Some houses have hung on and are now becoming prized artifacts as the larger West Adams District is rediscovered—ironically in part because of population pressures driving up housing prices in the districts that succeeded it in popularity beginning over a century ago.

An article appeared in the Los Angeles Times on June 13, 1914, describing impending upgrades to
West Adams Street that would include central landscaped parkways along stretches of the
thoroughfare on either side of Figueroa Street; these features and an extension to
meet Washington Street in Culver City and thus provide a new route to the
coast began the slow adoption of the "West Adams Boulevard"
nomenclature. The stretch above would not, however,
be parked, given that the Los Angeles Railway
ran west from Normandie Avenue.
At left is 2205 at Cimarron
Street; 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 activated links to full stories; histories of houses with addresses still in white will be available in due course. It should also be noted that, in deference to their privacy, our histories generally stop short of covering recent owners.

1515 East Adams Boulevard

1322 East Adams Boulevard

1266 East Adams Boulevard

1262 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

1120 East Adams Boulevard

1018 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

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

740 East Adams Boulevard

737 East Adams Boulevard

711 East Adams Boulevard

705 East Adams Street

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

258 East Adams Boulevard

255 East Adams Boulevard

246 East Adams Boulevard

243 East Adams Boulevard

237 East Adams Boulevard

233 East Adams Boulevard

223 East Adams Boulevard

219 East Adams Boulevard

209 East Adams Boulevard

205 East Adams Boulevard

127 East 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

919 West Adams Boulevard

931 West Adams Boulevard

949 West Adams Boulevard

957 West Adams Boulevard

1007 West Adams Street

1100 West Adams Boulevard

1101 West Adams Boulevard

1124 West Adams Boulevard

1140 West Adams Boulevard

1150 West Adams Boulevard

West Adams Gardens

1151 and 1180 West Adams Boulevard

1190 West Adams Boulevard

1200 West Adams Boulevard

1229 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

1280 West Adams Boulevard

1283 West Adams Boulevard

1300 West Adams Street/1289 West Adams Boulevard

1301 West Adams Boulevard

2615 Ellendale Place

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

1470 West Adams Boulevard

1473 West Adams Boulevard

1516 West Adams Boulevard

1528 West Adams Boulevard

 1559 West Adams Boulevard

1571 West Adams Boulevard

1575 West Adams Boulevard

1581 West Adams Boulevard

1587 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

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:
and Private Collections