Larchmont (alternately Larchmont Village) is the commercial heart of the Hancock Park district of Los Angeles.. The neighborhood lies within Windsor Square and is centered around Larchmont Boulevard (between Beverly Boulevard and 3rd Street). The friendly commercial strip along Larchmont Boulevard resembles a well-preserved downtown in a small Northeastern town and also serves as Windsor Square’s “main street.” Originally called “Glenwood,” in 1912, the area was renamed “Larchmont.”
Julius LaBonte (1879-1968), a developer from the midwest, is considered to be “the father of Larchmont” and is credited as the visionary who made Larchmont Village what it is today.
Between 1900 and 1920, the population of Los Angeles increased five-fold. Labonte established Larchmont Village as part of the sprawl out from Downtown in that era, with one-story stores (sometimes with second-story offices) along Larchmont Boulevard, starting with the east side of the street; eventually he added a movie theater on the western side. LaBonte is credited with building 70% of the structures on the street.
In September, 1921, LaBonte and his buisness partner, Charles Ramson, purchased 7 lots on Larchmont Blvd. in an effort to establish a new business district consitiing of 30 storefronts running between First St. and Beverly Blvd. catering to the adjacent neighborhoods of Larchmont Heights, New Windsor Square, and Hancock Park. Following the Mission Revival architectural style, according to the LA Times, every store was leased before construction was even finished.
The Los Angeles Railway Yellow Car famously ran down the center of the street. LaBonte himself referred to Larchmont as “a service street for the carriage trade of Windsor Sqaure and Hancock Park.” Although, the railway tracks were removed in 1955, and trees were planted along the street adding to the quaint feel of the neighborhood that it still retains today. Zoning restrictions have since been implemented to limit development along Larchmont Boulevard in order to preserve the street’s character.
In 1965, the Larchmont Boulevard Association was formed and still operates today, hosting numerous events like the annual Larchmont Village Family Fair, and ensuring that the beauty and charm of Larchmont Village will remain for generations to come.
Learn all about the history of Larchmont Village in the book, Larchmont (Images of America), by Patricia Lombard.
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