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Early Laurel Canyon History and Photographs

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Laurel Canyon and Lookout Mountain Inn

Shortly after Hollywood was annexed to the city of Lo Angeles in 1910, the Laurel. Canyon area began to experience some popularity because of its natural scenic beauty. Hundreds of visitors a week travelled up the canyon on a two-mile long, graded dirt road, later named Laurel Canyon Boulevard. Built by unemployed workers in 1907 at a cost of $10,000, the road ran up the canyon where it divided at what is now Lookout Mountain Avenue. The left road twisted its way up to the summit of Lookout Mountain, while the other continued to the top of the Santa Monica Mountains and down to the San Fernando Valley. 

In 1908, the Lookout Mountain Park Land and Water Company was formed to purchase 280 acres on Lookout Mountain, just west of Laurel Canyon. A large portion of the acreage was subdivided into bungalow lots, most of which had beautiful panoramic views of the city. Two years later, the company widened the winding dirt road to the top of Lookout Mountain where they built the Lookout Mountain Inn. Leased to J.H. Hartwick, the inn consisted of twenty—four rooms a bandstand and pavillion  and had an unobstructed 270 degree view of Los Angeles. It wasn't very long before the Lookout Mountain Inn, whose specialty was chicken dinners, became a popular Hollywood attraction. Because of the steep grade or the twisting road and the lack of engine power of automobiles, guests were forced to spend at least thirty to forty-five minutes driving up the canyon to the inn. However, when they finally arrived, the fine food and breathtaking view seemed to make the long, tedious trip all worthwhile. At about the same time the Lookout Mountain Inn was built, a real estate subdivision, known as Bungalow Land was established at what is now Laurel canyon Boulevard and Lookout Mountain Avenue. Several lots were graded and sold to buyers who built bungalows and cottages, primarily for use during weekend and smmer vacations. In 1912, as a stimulus to Bungalow Land, Mr. Charles Mann, real estate operator, and Mr. Richard Shoemaker, engineer, established a trackless trolley service between the Sunset Boulevard terminus of the Pacific Electric trolley line at Laurel Avenue, and the tavern at the junction or Laurel Canyon Road and Lookout Mountain Road. The ' car had two trolleys, one to a positive and one to a grounded over- head wire, and was able to sway to either side of the street. For five or six years, the trackless trolley travelled up and down Laurel Canyon to meet the half—hour schedule to Los Angeles. It was mechanically satisfactory, but insufficiently patronized. It was discontinued when the  Pacific Electric ceased to run cars between Gardner Street and Laurel Canyon  Road, and realty interests failed to support it. 

On October 26, l9l8, disaster struck the Lookout Mountain and Laurel Canyon area when a fire, fanned by strong winds, burned about two hundred acres and totally destroyed the famous Lookout Mountain Inn. For a time, when the great bellows of fire and smoke were rolling high and fast, many residents began preparations to evacuate. Several trucks loaded with furniture and personal belongings made trips down the road, which was covered with fragments of talking- machine records and other small articles that were dropping from the trucks as they rattled down the mountain road. The damage, estimated to be $15,000, and suffered mostly by J.H. Hartwick's Lookout Mountain  Inn, was held down by the heroic work of more than two hundred volunteer workers and fifty trained firefighters. Miraculously, nobody  was seriously hurt.

Laurel Canyon Photographs is the largest photograph collection on the subject of Hollywood. There are over 6000 historic photos of Hollywood and over twenty photographs of the Laurel Canyon area. All the rare photographs are available for purchase.

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