As has been reported, well, just about everywhere, housing prices in Los Angeles are at an all-time dismal high. As a chronically underemployed academic type, I’m pretty resigned to the fact that my cats and I will be renters as long as we deign to call this fair city home. I was curious, though, about what house prices would have been like in my neighborhood, when it was first established.
I live on the very western edge of Culver City, in a neighborhood practically underneath the 405, near the Ballona Creek. (The city recently put up some banners along Sepulveda proclaiming that the neighborhood’s name is “Culver Village,” but will always and forever refer to it fondly as “Tito’s Tacos-adjacent.”) Most of the homes here are bungalows, built in the 1940s and 1950s.
After a bit of digging in a historical newspaper database, I turned a little gem – a 1951 LA times article about then-new residential developments in Sunkist Park, which I just south of the Ballona Creek. Not quite my neighborhood, but pretty close by. According to the article, developers built about 315 homes in the area, about half of which were sold before construction began. You could pick a house in one of fifteen different styles (including the super cute storybook ranch-style house pictured below), and they came pre-decorated: “early buyers have a selection of tile, wallpaper, linoleum, and paint colors,” the Times reported.
Prices ranged from $10,777 to $11,100. Adjusted for inflation, and that would be $97,884 to $100,818 in today’s dollars – which makes current house prices seem all the more depressing!
Sunkist Park, it turns out, used to be the location of the Culver City airport, which, according to Julie Lugo Cerra, Culver City’s city historian, began operations in 1927. It closed in 1951, and the Sunkist Park housing development was built on part of the airport’s former site. I’m curious to know more about the provenance of the neighborhood’s name – was it once the site of a Sunkist citrus orchard? Did the developers (Richard Diller and Irving Kalsman, according to the Times) have a connection to Sunkist? I’m going to do a bit more digging to see what I can find, but in the meantime, if anyone knows anything else about the origins of the neighborhood, comment away!