Saturday, November 04, 2006

Beverly Hills is named for whom?

Who is the Beverly of "Beverly Hills," "Beverly Glen," "Beverlywood," etc.? This is not an uncommon question for someone interested in the etymology of our region's places, streets, etc. Sadly, it's a very simple answer. I wish she was a roughneck pioneer of the late 19th century, but that woman's name was Maria Rita Valdez - owning this land about 75 years earlier. It wasn't a real estate tycoon's wife, daughter or girlfriend, either. No, the Beverly of this region was merely borrowed from the East Coast, as so much was in the development of Los Angeles, and then it took on a life of its own.

You see, in 1906 when the Rodeo Land and Water Company sold the land that would become Beverly Hills, the new developers envisioned a tranquil community. Beverly Hills was planned, developed, and named as such by Burton Green (of Burton Way fame). It is rumored that, after reading about Beverly Farms, Massachusetts (the location of President Taft's vacation retreat) in the newspaper, he & his wife thought "Beverly" sounded nice; so he pitched it to his associates, and they concurred. Then, with it being the only city between Los Angeles and Santa Monica, "Beverly" became the name of boulevards, streets, and adjacent communities. In fact, the naming of Beverly Boulevard, a direct route from Downtown to the ocean that was stalled for two decades, was able to be named "Beverly" because of the destinational proximity of that town to the rest of the developed region in the first decades of the 20th century.

So, there is no hard-nosed matron or would-be starlet named Beverly - it's not even someone's last name. If there was a person to associate it with, that person could be Mr. Green or President Taft... but no one named Beverly.

image from the Los Angeles Examiner via USC's digital archives.


Dan said...

Thanks for the info. I seem to remember a Chandler line, "who was Beverly, and why was everything in this town named after her."

beam aims north said...

So is Beverly Farms named for an actual Beverly? Or did President Taft just think it sounded nice?

C... said...

I wonder if Ms Valdez ever made a penny on it.