Beverly Hills' Civic Center Complex

Learn about the development of the city's civic center complex.

In the spring of 1929, a City Council decision was made to locate Beverly Hills' government entities on 6.5 acres owned by the Pacific Electric Corporation. The would no longer be the city's main political venue.

A $1.1 million bond was submitted to develop a civic center complex that included a City Hall, police and fire stations, an emergency hospital, city library, a patriotic memorial hall, a once-proposed federal building and a post office. The facilities were to be built on the west end of town between North Canon and North Rexford drives. Building costs would be an additional $400,000. A water tower was to be erected with the planned removal of the water plant on La Cienega Boulevard. 

The Beverly Hills Citizen reads that although there was an original plan to house the various city departments in smaller buildings, it was the council's resolution that "The City Hall will be of such size and magnitude as to be a credit to our city."

Property adjacent to the future civic center was considered ideal for "high class" buildings. However, the impressive 1937 former Music Corporation of America and Litton Industries building across "Little" Santa Monica Boulevard, built by architect Paul Williams, has been the only commercial building to satisfy this expectation within one block of City Hall. Funding for such projects was difficult at this time due to the Great Depression. The major immediate objective would be to finish the purchase of lots across Santa Monica Boulevard in order to complete Strip Park, now called .

The civic center buildings were to be of Spanish Renaissance style. In March 1931, a rendering of the new City Hall was published that showed the northern wing would hold a city court. However, today's is located nearby on Burton Way. 

The space for the city's main post office was to be set aside and supported by a $300,000 federal government appropriation, provided that the post office land was donated. The location where the post office was to be built was owned by the Rodeo Land and Water Company, which transferred its rights to the land to the United States government in May 1931 so that our old post office could be built. 

The city asked for and received permission by the federal government to avoid building a costly $17,000 pedestrian tunnel under Santa Monica Boulevard that was included in the original deal because traffic lights would protect those crossing the street on foot. 

This was a major period in the city's building-development history and a challenging time to produce the attractive all-in-one government complex that we depend upon today.

Thank you for reading, Russ

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