The architectural splendor and rich history of West Adams community between
Western Boulevard and USC make it a must see for visitors and local history
West Adams was developed between 1900 and 1920 to provide elegant
homes to Los Angeles’ entrepreneurial elites. Oils barons, vintners, railroad
magnates, and real estate developers hired top architects of their day to create
mansions in a variety of styles. Its wealthy residents of the 1920s included
lawyers, doctors, oil baron Edward L. Doheny, Port of Los Angeles developer
Randolph Huntington Minor, and a host of other prominent Los Angeles
During the 1930s depression era West Adams hit hard times. Homeowners
were forced to either sell their homes, or to rent out rooms to boarders.
Another change for West Adams occurred in the early 1940s as successful
African-American entertainers moved into West Adams Heights and dubbed it
“Sugar Hill.” But Whites opposed the integration of West Adams. Among the
famous residents of West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill was actresses Louise
Beavers, Hattie McDaniel (the first African-American to win a Oscar) and
Earl Grant (jazz organist). Their efforts were rewarded in 1948 when the United
States Supreme Court declared racial restrictions housing unconstitutional.
Soon West Adams was the place for wealthy African-Americans who quickly
became the dominant group. The first African-American to run for city council
was Courtland G. Mitchell who lived in West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill at
2048 South Oxford Avenue.
The late 1950s/early 1960s the Santa Monica Freeway cut through part of
West Adams. The Freeway also divided West Adams Heights/ Sugar Hill.
Some of our most significant home were lost to the freeway project and the
area began to decline through the 1970s.
But in the beginning of the 1980s, with a healthy economy and many African-
Americans in well-paying professions, homeowners started investing in the old
mansions, remodeling and restoring the historic homes. Other professionals
were attracted to the architecture and lush old neighborhood and brought
increased diversity. Communications experts, writers, academics, artists and
Hollywood talent discovered the convenience of West Adams - one of Los
Angeles' most diverse communities.
Last update (JFM)
Jan 12, 2006
Top: Lena Horne & friends.
Below: Louise Beavers. Ray
Charles, Hattie McDaniels and Pearl
Bailey all lived or worked in the
West Adams Heights/Sugar Hill
Los Angeles Public Library
USC Digital Archives
Los Angeles Community
City of Los Angeles
Historic Links (Coming Soon!)