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100 Exciting Years of Beverly Hills

From the Publisher Clif Smith

Sunday our beautiful City begins celebrating its 100th birthday. And it’s a great day to remember just what a spectacular home we have.

The early years of the 20th Century saw Southern California real estate booming as the railroads brought here the wealthy and poor alike. More often than not, the “poor” became the wealthy here.  In a practical sense, our City and much of Los Angeles County owe their birth and growth to the insatiable appetite and vision of magnates like Collis and Henry Huntington. They had a system – build a grand hotel in what was then the “middle of nowhere,” put in a train track, subdivide a rancho or two or three, entertain easterners and mid-westerners tired of snowed-in winters, and sell them lots to build houses.

That’s what they did. It’s where Beverly Hills came from.

The grand hotel was, and still is, The Beverly Hills Hotel. If timing is everything, the timing was nearly perfect.  Hollywood was rapidly monopolizing the movie industry and its stars needed a place to stay. Under the leadership of current resident Robbie Anderson’s grandmother, Margaret Anderson, the hotel and the City became home to famous Hollywood directors, actors and actresses such as Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson, Buster Keaton, Tom Mix, Rudolph Valentino and Will Rogers. The bean fields surrounding The Beverly Hills Hotel turned into prime real estate and they sprouted grand mansions.

Incorporation followed, then a battle with the city of Los Angeles over who owned the water, and Beverly Hills emerged. Horses played a big part in the real life reality show that became Beverly Hills. The on-screen cowboys who lived here actually rode horses here. Rodeo Drive was a real bridle path. Sunday morning rides were a tradition.

City founders had a true vision—planned streets, lovely parkland, an energetic and determined population. When entrepreneurs like Fred Hayman, Herb Fink and Donald Tronstein later made Rodeo Drive into the “most famous fashion street in the world,” it was only natural that these three blocks continued to be the focus of regular world attention.

With more and more happening here, The Beverly Hills Hotel was joined by The Beverly Wilshire, The Beverly Hilton, more recently the Peninsula Beverly Hills, L’Ermitage and Montage Beverly Hills. In fact, we boast more five- and four-stars hotels per capita than anywhere in the world.

Throughout, even with our beautiful gardens and parks, the wealthy and famous here, and with all the glorious sunshine, what sets Beverly Hills apart from other enclaves is our sense of community. Not everyone in Beverly Hills is wealthy. We have a City that is truly mixed at all levels, but regardless of bank account balance, the car you drive or where in the City you live, our people live and breath the special air that is Beverly Hills. Whether the event is celebrating a glorious Fathers Day on Rodeo Drive or gathering to mourn our departed loved ones, this is truly a community.

Beverly Hills is not just a place but it is a concept and a belief—a belief that no matter how good today may be, tomorrow will be better if we all just keep at it. Or, perhaps more accurately, everyone in Beverly Hills knows everything can be better. We called it “The City of Dreams Come True” for our Tournament of Roses float three years ago. This truly is the city of dreams come true.

The Courier never tires of telling the world that we really are special. Former mayor Jimmy Delshad called us the “biggest cheerleader” for Beverly Hills. (We would probably defer that title to him, but we’ll take it – or #2 – any day.) The Courier is proud of Beverly Hills. We are proud of our community. We are proud of the City’s continual pursuit and frequent achievement of excellence.  We are proud that our community reads and trusts this newspaper.  We never want that to change.

Sunday’s event recreates our City’s horse-borne history with the return of that bridle path and more. The events Sunday, described elsewhere in today’s edition of The Courier, are going to be fun.  We hope everyone will join us to celebrate this great upcoming week and the remainder of our Centennial year.

The Rodeo de Los Caballos is on Sunday. The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts opens on Thursday.

Everything is world class. Then again, Beverly Hills defines “world class.”

Seriously, step out into the Beverly Hills sunlight, take a long look around and take in the beauty in which we find ourselves. It’s one of the finest gifts you can give yourself.

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