Laurel Canyon is LA’s Coolest Neighborhood

Loren Kantor
Los Angeles Stories
6 min readMay 20, 2024

--

Houses hug the hills above Laurel Canyon.

Laurel Canyon is a quiet Los Angeles suburb nestled between the San Fernando Valley and the heart of Hollywood. Developers have infiltrated the area with multi-million dollar homes but the hills remain dotted with ramshackle cabins, funky tudor houses and concrete oddities built by hippie renegades. While the city drones in the background, hawks fly overhead and deer still frolic in backyards.

In 1910, developer Charles Spencer Mann wanted to create a community that would become a forested oasis. He dubbed the area “Bungalow Land” and commissioned a trackless trolley from Sunset Boulevard to the top of Lookout Mountain. He built rustic lodges and hunting cabins. The homes were surrounded by eucalyptus and oak trees and colorful wildflowers. The area attracted movie stars like Tom Mix, Mary Astor and Clara Bow. Young actors like Errol Flynn and Orson Welles moved to Laurel Canyon and the area became known for secret parties and hidden speakeasies.

In 1948, actor Robert Mitchum was arrested for marijuana possession at his Laurel Canyon home. The LAPD referred to Laurel Canyon as a “reefer resort.” Artists and musicians flocked to the area in the 50’s and 60’s. In 1964, 19-year old guitarist Chris Hillman (The Byrds) rented the lower part of a home on Magnolia Lane owned by a dentist. Other rock stars followed including Carole King, David Crosby…

--

--

Loren Kantor
Los Angeles Stories

Loren is a writer and woodcut artist based in Los Angeles. He teaches printmaking and creative writing to kids and adults.