Laurel Canyon includes the residential community of Mount Olympus and is bordered by:
- West Hollywood in the South and West
- Hollywood in the East
- Studio City in the San Fernando Valley in the North
A Brief History
In the early part of the 19th century, Laurel Canyon was a rough and rustic area made up of just a few cabins—some used as hunting lodges. The hillside region was developed by Charles Spencer Mann, an engineer and investor who built the nation’s first trackless trolley there in 1913. The creation of Hollywood’s film industry also attracted residents like Errol Flynn and Ramon Navarro to the undeveloped quarter. By the ‘20s, Laurel Canyon was a real neighborhood with a small schoolhouse, restaurants, a grocery store, and even a local newspaper.
But it wasn’t until the ‘60s that Laurel Canyon’s lifelong reputation as a who’s who commune of legendary rock n’ rollers developed. Like its Northern cousin San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, it became the place to be for hippies, as well as successful and aspiring musicians. Its center, said many, was eccentric rock star Frank Zappa’s rented cabin on Lookout Mountain—home to more than a few wild parties. Free spirits and music types continued to migrate and meet up in the Canyon throughout the ‘70s as the scene switched from psychedelic rock to mellow folk music and musicians.
Today, Laurel Canyon continues to carry its reputation as a residential center for people involved in music, film, and the arts. But the rents have gone up, and so have the home prices (into the millions), making it an elite area for creatives. Its ideal location, just a short walk from the famous Sunset Strip, is another reason for its high status in the “location location location” real estate market. It is one of the main north-south arteries between the flats and valleys of Los Angeles.
Despite being poshed-up, the Canyon has kept the funky, rainbow-colored charm of the ‘60s Love Generation on the walls of its Canyon Country Store and the occasional brightly colored houses and odd-shaped pads that crop up around newer more upscale homes. Famous, infamous, and unknown Canyonites can be seen chatting over coffee and tea at the Country Store’s coffee cart, a neighborhood social hub.
Not far from the popular dog-walk capital and Hollywood hikers’ paradise of Runyon Canyon, and just below the hill from the San Fernando Valley, Laurel Canyon is one of the more centrally located parts of the spread out city of LA.
A Dozen Famous Laurel Canyon Residents
- Clara Bow
- Christina Applegate
- Jack Nicholson
- Dylan Walsh
- George Clooney
- Boris Karloff
- Frank Zappa
- Jim Morrison
- Joni Mitchell
- Jackson Browne
- Rick Rubin
- Marilyn Manson
Legends and Traditions
- Photo Day - Every year, usually in October, Canyon residents gather in front of the Country Store to ham it up for a group portrait. One lone photographer stands on the traffic island across the street, stopping cars on the busy boulevard so he can snap a perfect portrait—which will end up framed on the wall of the store.
- Houdini’s Ghost: An Annual Halloween Haunt - Legend has it that famous magician Harry Houdini told his widow that his spirit would come back to visit her. Her house burned down in 1958. But still, every Halloween, a crew of die-hard ghost-lovers plant themselves in front of its location, hoping to catch the ultimate cameo appearance.
- Wyatt Earp’s Bullet - Classic movie cowboy Tom Mix (who lived in the Canyon) was supposedly visiting a former Canyon bar/café with legendary real-life cowboy Wyatt Earp. As the story goes, one beer-guzzling patron got out of line, causing an irritated Earp to shoot a bullet into the wall (which is said to still be lodged there today).
Laurel Canyon in Books and Music
- “Our House,” song by Crosby, Stills, and Nash
- “Ladies of the Canyon,” song and album by Joni Mitchell
- “Love Street” song by The Doors
- Wonderland Avenue memoir by Danny Sugerman
- Laurel Canyon, a film by Lisa Cholodenko
- Laurel Canyon, a non-fiction book by Michael Walker
Restaurants and Bars
Once you drive into Laurel Canyon, it’s like entering a nature refuge in the middle of the city. So in the actual canyon, there is really only one dining and drinking spot: Pacé restaurant. This cozy little restaurant hub of the Canyon serves up organic Italian food in a dimly lit bohemian setting.
Local Businesses and Organizations
- The Laurel Canyon Country Store
- Lilly's Coffee Cart
- Laurel Canyon Dry Cleaners
- Mann Realty
- Laurel Canyon Neighborhood Association
- Wonderland Avenue School
- Fairfax High School (vicinity)
Real Estate Facts
- Population: 210,833
- Only 4% of LA area houses are more expensive
- The average cost of homes per square foot: $578
- The median price of a 2 bedroom home: $995,000
Facts pulled from LA Life: Laurel Canyon and The Laurel Canyon Association