Very few cities in California can brag that they are as well known as Beverly Hills. Whether it be Rodeo Drive or The Beverly Hillbillies, everyone has heard something about this small Los Angeles County enclave. Beverly Hills is located in the middle of Los Angeles County, surrounded by the cities of Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Culver City.
Beverly Hills Demographics
- Population 34,109
- Population Breakdown:
- White Persons 82.4%
- African American Persons 2.2%
- Native American Persons 0.1%
- Asian Persons 8.9%
- Hispanic or Latino Persons 5.7%
Beverly Hills History
Beverly Hills was inhabited first, like so many other California cities, by the Tongva. The Tongva considered the area a sacred site, naming it the Gathering of the Waters or, in Spanish, El Rodeo de las Aguas. With the arrival of Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola in 1769 came troubles for the Tongva. While the Spanish were amazed at the bounty the land provided, their arrival brought a smallpox epidemic which destroyed two thirds of the local Native population.
Later, the Mexican governor of California deeded the land grant El Rodeo de las Aguas to Maria Rita Valdez Villa. Maria built an adobe ranch house where she employed a vast posse of cowboys and proceeded to raise cattle and horses. In 1852, Maria Rita’s rancho was ambushed by a small group of Native Americans. Maria Rita survived the confrontation, but two years later decided to sell the ranch to Benjamin D. Wilson and Henry Hancock. Unfortunately for Wilson and Hancock the area’s abundance was going to suffer and a draught would follow the purchase. The drought destroyed their crops and their cattle herds were lost.
After the Civil War oil wells began to pop up in the area and the demographics began to change. Cattle gave way to herds of sheep and the Tongva were no more. In 1868, Edward Preuss bought the ranch to establish a community for German immigrant farmers. Unfortunately for Preuss, his endeavor would suffer the same fate as Wilson and Hancock. Another draught caused Preuss to abandon his plan and revert to sheep and cattle ranching. Charles Denker and Henry Hammel followed purchasing the territory in the 1880s. Hammel and Decker planned to establish a North African-themed subdivision called “Morocco.” However, this plan too was abandoned with the collapse of the economy.
In 1900, Burton Green, along with several partners, purchased “Morocco” for the Amalgamated Oil Company. After drilling many unproductive wells, they reorganized as the Rodeo Land and Water Company and Green and his wife renamed the land Beverly Hills after Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. The City was incorporated in 1914.
Today Beverly Hills is known the world over as a place of wealth and beauty. This small enclave of exclusive homes and shops continues to grow but the city limits development so all residents can enjoy the exclusivity of living in Beverly Hills.