Images via KCET
KCET has a great history lesson on West Hollywood, which last week celebrated its twenty-seventh year as an incorporated city. The story starts way back in 1896, when public transit and water delivery made the area reachable and livable. Businessman Moses Sherman helped bring the Pasadena and Pacific interurban railways through the area, then known as the Cahuenga Valley. Sherman and his nephew built a railyard at what is now Santa Monica Blvd. and San Vicente and sold surroundings residential lots to rail workers--the area grew into a small blue-collar development called Sherman.
While places like Fairfax eventually allowed themselves to be annexed to LA in the 1920s, Sherman resisted, building its own sewer system and using county police and fire services. In 1925, the area renamed itself West Hollywood, hoping to cash in on its neighbor's cachet and soften Sherman's rough-and-tumble image (there had already been a West Hollywood Realty Board for some time). The railway tracks that ran down Santa Monica Blvd. carried transit riders until 1941 and freight cars until the 1970s. The city of West Hollywood-- which incorporated in 1984 thanks to a coalition of seniors, renters, and gays--dug up the tracks in 1999 and built a landscaped median. Entering its late twenties, the town's not doing so bad. It has a fancy new library, Caesar Pelli-designed architecture, and, perhaps soon, more green space.
· West Hollywood at 27: How the Town of Sherman Became WeHo [KCET]