[idx-listings city=”Mar Vista” orderby=”DateAdded” orderdir=”DESC” showlargerphotos=”true”]
By the early 1920’s the community of Ocean Park Heights was growing rapidly & saw the potential for becoming an incorporated city. In 1924, the name was changed from Ocean Park Heights to Mar Vista. In 1926, Mar Vistans decided not to incorporate, but rather annex to LA. Mar Vista was influenced by the fact that 2 neighboring cities had voted for annexation to LA, based on concern about water, and growing populations.
The name Ocean Park Heights came from the first tract of homes built along the Venice Short Line. The tract, and the train station that served it, shared the Ocean Park Heights name. This was 1904. Until 1907, the City of Venice was the City of Ocean Park. The City Hall of Ocean Park was on Venice Blvd., now the Beyond Baroque Theater. Until 1907, the back country of Ocean Park with its 200 ft. hill, was appropriately called Ocean Park Heights. It wasn’t until 1924, that the name was changed to Mar Vista.
By 1924, there were a number of tracts along Venice Blvd., and several of them were proposed to replace Ocean Park Heights. These included Walnut Glen, Del Mar, Roseboro, and Hillcrest. There was a new tract north of Venice Blvd. and west of Centinela Ave. called New Mar Vista. The nearest Red Car station was named Mar Vista. After much debate, Mar Vista was selected to replace Ocean Park Heights.
So in 1924 Ocean Park Heights became Mar Vista, and in 1927 Mar Vista became part of LA. The area annexed to LA extended north – Washington Blvd. to Pico Blvd. and from Walgrove east to Overland. Most of this area was farmland. The major crop was lima beans, which could be dry farmed. Mar Vista became known as being in the Lima Bean Belt of the nation. By 1912, there were four large tracts that made up Ocean Park Heights. The original Ocean Pak Heights included Ocean View, Grand View, and Mountain View Streets. The East Ocean Park Tract was south of Venice Blvd. between Centinela Ave. and Inglewood Blvd. The tract east of Inglewood Ave., which includes the new fire station and extends east to McLaughlin, was tract 928. It is the Oval tract. West of Centinela on the south side of Venice Blvd. was the Del Mar tract. Grand View was the widest street in LA County and the 1st gated community. The top of the hill was a dump – with the grandest views in LA County.
One of the first commercial buildings in Mar Vista was Claude Busby’s Rexall Drug Store on southwest corner of Grand View and Venice Blvd. It was built in 1923. The oldest home built in 1901, is on Grand View near Charnock. During the 1920’s and 30’s large homes on Grand View were fronts for speakeasies, where high quality liquor could be obtained. One of the houses which is still standing today on Grand View Blvd. was a brothel. Mar Vista was the location for the filming of many movies. The Little Rascals rode soap box derbys down Grand View. The Laurel & Hardy film “Two Tars” was filmed near Rose Ave on Centinela Ave. During WWII there were numerous anti-aircraft guns and barrage balloons in Mar Vista. The world’s largest military plane was built at Douglas. Santa Monica airport was extended into Mar Vista to provide sufficient runway for the plane to take off.
The top of Mar Vista Hill is a unique asset for Mar Vista. In spite of its desirable location for housing, it remained an open space. There were truck farms in the 1930’s. In the 1940’s the DWP purchased all of the farms for a reservoir. The requirement for a reservoir did not materialize. In the 1960’s, after losing their baseball field, North Venice Little League asked LADWP if they could lease the top of the hill for baseball diamonds. DWP agreed, and in the mid 1970s Ocean View Farms leased the hillside east of Centinela for garden plots. Venice High has played an important role in the development of Mar Vista. Is Venice High in Venice or Mar Vista? Its postal zip code is LA 90066, which is Mar Vista. Abbot Kinney bought the land in 1914. Venice Union Poly Technic High was started by Kinney in a bath house in Venice. When the high school moved, the boundaries of Venice were extended east to include the school.
Venice High was important to the Mormon community which developed in the early 1920s. Mar Vista streets have Mormon names: Wasatch, Boise, & McCune. George McCune was the president of the LA stake and his real estate development company claimed to be the “originators of Mar Vista.” Soon after the Mormons arrived, the name of the community changed to Mar Vista. George McCune tried to convince the president of the Mormon Church to locate the LA Mormon Temple on Mar Vista Hill. The church decided it was not centrally located and chose Route 66, Santa Monica Blvd.
The 1940s was a time of great growth. There was housing for Douglas employees and for returning veterans. The Westdale Trousdale Estates were developed east of Mar Vista Hill. The Gregory Ain homes, built in the late 1940s, were made an Historic Preservation Overlay Zone in 2003.
Mar Vista’s cultural monument is a tree, the Moreton Bay Fig Tree on National Blvd and Military Ave. It was planted in 1875.
Mar Vista’s famous citizens include: Lloyd Bridges, Jerry West, John Wooden, Jerry Buss, Fatty Arbuckle, Nathan Pratt, & Stacey Peralta. Pratt & Peralta were part of the Z-Boys of Dogtown who were known for their aerial, thrilling skateboarding in pools during the 1970s.