Wilshire Boulevard is mostly a four-lane road that runs for 15.83 miles or 25.48 kilometers from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles. The Boulevards widest areas are in Central Westwood, where it expands to ten lanes and Holmby Hills, where it grows to 8 lanes. The area along the road has historically been celebrated as the most urbanized and developed part of Southern California. Known as an arterial road that extends from Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica to the Financial District, LA, it indeed does carry the life of the region.
Skyscrapers dominate the eastern end of the Boulevard while some areas run beside the Los Angeles Country Club and other stretches of road pass by businesses, shopping, and residential areas.
The Tongva people first used the path Wilshire Boulevard traces as they brought back black tar to their settlements from La Brea tar pits. The Spanish colonials and settlers who came later called it the Old Road or El Camino Viejo. Its modern incarnation can be said to begin from Nevada Avenue in Santa Monica during the 1870s. Orange Street, which extended between downtown Nevada and Orange, was also incorporated as a part of Wilshire Avenue.
The road has been named Wilshire Boulevard since 1895 after a man named Henry Gaylord Wilshire. Hailing originally from Ohio, Wilshire worked in real estate, farming and gold mining. He donated a 1200 feet long stretch of land to the city on the condition that it would be named after him. An apartment building in the area is called the Gaylord after his middle name.
Currently, Wilshire Boulevard is synonymous with Los Angeles and is considered the Main Street of the metropolis. Wilshire Boulevard has, through the years, never lost its prominence or stagnated. Today it still thrives as the beating heart of Los Angeles. The road has merited mention in songs and is often shown in films and television shows. Recent mention of the Boulevard was made in the song Honeymoon by Lena Del Rey and by rapper Nipsey Hussle in his song Dreamin.
The Purple and Red subway lines run along Wilshire Boulevard. The Los Angeles Metro operates these, and an extension is under construction to the Purple Line. This extension will be completed by 2025, according to plans. The area sees dense use of the bus lines, and the Metro Local, Metro Rapid, and the Santa Monica Transit Line all operate along this route.
Previously Wilshire Boulevard only extended till the lake in MacArthur Park. Initially called West Lake Park, it was built in the 1880s; the Park is divided into two by Wilshire Boulevard, which runs through it. The southern portion has a lake, while the other side has many sports fields and playgrounds as well as other recreational areas.
Miracle Mile or Museum Row
Miracle Mile is a region of Wilshire Boulevard, which has two historic preservation overlay zones. The area has 1,347 properties, many of them residences built from 1924 to 1941. It is a densely populated area with historical and cultural significance. It contains the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, La Brea Tar Pits, the Olympia Medical Center, The Academy of Motion Pictures, The Farmers Market and The Grove Shopping Area.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Located on the Western edge of Museum row, the Los Angeles Museum of Art has many displays of contemporary artists and sculptures from leading national and international artists. Swiss architect Peter Zumthor is currently redesigning the museum. The museum is also being expanded on the south side of Wilshire, where more galleries or offices may be built.
Wilshire Corridor is a 1.5-mile section of Wilshire Boulevard with high rise buildings and skyscrapers with extremely high land values. It is also known as the Golden Mile or Millionaires Mile not only because of its high land and property values but also because only the incredibly wealthy can afford to live here. The area known as Wilshire Corridor is between the 405 freeways and Beverly Hills. It contains film studios such as the MGM and Fox studios.
Koreatown is a historic and densely populated area in the middle of Wilshire Boulevard. It consists of an area of about 3 square miles that contains the Robert F Kennedy Community Schools building at the site of the former Ambassador Hotel. It is a district with a large Hispanic and Korean population, and many of the residents are fluent in two or more languages such as English, Spanish and Korean.
The Boulevard has several temples and churches, including the Sephardic Temple Tiereth Israel, Sinai temple, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, and Saint Basils Catholic Church. The road also has several hotels, including the Beverly Hilton Hotel, The Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, and the Park Plaza Hotel. There are many buildings with cultural importance such as theaters and museums along the road, including Hammer Museum, the Academy of Motion Pictures Museum, The Los Angeles County Museum, the Pellissier Building and Theater, and the El Rey Theater. Johnie’s Coffee Shop is a landmark building that was made in Googie architectural style in 1956. It is located at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue and has since been declared a historic landmark building.
As well as buildings, the road passes many parks such as the MacArthur Park, Lafayette Park, and Hancock Park. Rodeo Drive is also located on Wilshire Boulevard and is a two-mile stretch of road that is known for its world-famous, varied, and expensive shopping opportunities. Los Angeles Cemetery and the Good Smartian Hospital can also be seen along the route.
The Los Angeles Country Club in Beverly Hills is also located along the road. The country club started life more than a hundred years ago in 1897, as the Los Angeles Golf Club and eventually shifted to its current location in 1911.