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Runyon Canyon Photos & History

Runyon Canyon Photos & History

Runyon Canyon runs from just above Franklin Avenue to Mulholland Drive, the tract was originally called No Man's Canyon and is believed to have been a campsite for the Gabrielino Indians.

First Runyon Canyon Owners

In 1867, the federal government deeded the canyon to "Greek George" Caralambo for his services in the U.S. Army Camel Corps. The infamous bandit Tubircio Vasquez was captured while hiding out in Caralambo's adobe and later hanged--but not in the canyon.

In 1919, Carman Runyon, a wealthy coal merchant from the East Coast, bought the canyon, giving it his name and using it as a riding and hunting retreat.

John McCormack's home in Runyon Canyon

San Patrizio

Popular Irish tenor John McCormack bought the canyon from Runyon, built a mansion he dubbed San Patrizio (St. Patrick with a pinch of Mediterranean spice) and added lawns, gardens, a reservoir, a pool and tennis courts. During the 1930s, Hollywood stars--Janet Gaynor, Charles Boyer and Marie Dressler to name a few--rented San Patrizio during McCormack's frequent world tours. McCormack passed away in 1945.

Huntington Hartford

In 1942, George Huntington Hartford II, heir to the A & P Grocery fortune, purchased the estate and renamed it "The Pines." He enlisted Frank Lloyd Wright and his son Lloyd Wright to design a hotel and country club, but the project was stopped by neighborhood opposition.

Lloyd Wright succeeded in building a pool house, a cottage for Hartford's sidekick George Headley, and a few studio apartments for the Huntington Hartford Foundation colony for artists, writers and composers.

While performing at the Huntington Hartford Theater, on Vine St., Errol Flynn resided in Hartford's pool house in 1957 and '58 after forfeiting his Mulholland Drive home for back alimony, which accounts for the popular legend that the canyon was Flynn's estate.

Jules Berman Ownership

When Mayor Sam Yorty refused to accept the canyon as a gift from Hartford in 1963, Hartford sold it to Jules Berman, who planned a luxury-home subdivision. Berman razed San Patrizio and its accompanying structures to make way for construction in 1970, but neighborhood resistance put a stop to his development plan. In 1972, a fire ravaged the canyon leaving only stone foundations and dirt access roads.

Jules Berman, who had made a fortune importing the well-known Mexican coffee-flavored liqueur Kahlúa, saw the estate potentially as a "Tiffany development, a beautiful subdivision of 157 luxury homes." After purchasing the canyon, he razed Son Patrizio and the guest houses to avoid paying taxes on the deteriorating structures. His "Huntington Hartford Estates" development, trading on the name of its famous former owner, encountered resistance led by neighbors. . The project was stopped in 1978 before building could begin. The Lloyd Wright pool-house remained standing until 1972 when a fire in the canyon destroyed all but its natural stone foundations.

1973 Photo of Runyon Canyon entrance website photos

In 1973, Hollywood historian, Bruce Torrence, hiked around Runyon Canyon and “The Pines” and took many photos of the destroyed buildings. All of the rare Runyon Canyon photos are on the website. All the photos are available for purchase.

Between 1994 and 1999, two parallel subway tunnels for the Metro Red Line were mined underneath the park. The tunnels run approximately from the southeast corner to the northwest corner of the park boundaries and are located deep underground.

Today, Runyon Canyon is a 160-acre park in Hollywood at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains.  The southern entrance to the park is located at the north end of Fuller Avenue in Holywood. At the entrance is a stone pillar that has a rock sign that says, The Pines. The northern entrance is off the 7300 block of Mulholland Dr.. The Runyon Canyon Road is a that is closed to public motor vehicle access, runs roughly through the center of the park between the northern and southern entrances along Runyon Canyon itself, and there are numerous smaller hiking trails throughout the park. The highest point in the park at an altitudeof 1,320 ft. is known as Indian Rock.

Please visit to view the largest collection of Runyon Canyon and “The Pines”.


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