Westwood is a district in western Los Angeles, California, United States. Westwood is best known as the home of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The eastern portions of the district are often thought of as a distinctly different neighborhood, Holmby Hills. Westwood was carved from the old Wolfskill Farm, a 3,000 acre (12 km²) tract that was purchased in 1919 by wealthy retailer Arthur Letts. Letts' son-in-law, Harold Janss, was vice president of Janss Investment Company, which developed the area and started advertising new homes in 1922.
Westwood's major thoroughfares include Santa Monica, Sepulveda, Beverly Glen, Wilshire, Westwood, and Sunset Boulevards. The district is served by the San Diego Freeway (I-405). Numerous bus lines serve the area, and recently instituted bus rapid transit service runs along Wilshire.
The Metro and Caltrans have also begun a project to widen the San Diego Freeway between the interchanges with the Marina Freeway (SR 90) in Culver City and the Ventura Freeway (U.S. Route 101) in Sherman Oaks; the project, which will finally add a northbound carpool lane to the congested route, is not scheduled for completion until 2009 at the earliest.
Westwood is also home to the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, the last resting place of many of Hollywood's biggest stars. A museum named for and endowed by activist and philanthropist Armand Hammer, longtime head of Occidental Petroleum (which maintains its headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard), has become one of Los Angeles' trendiest cultural attractions since UCLA assumed its management in the 1990s. The Hammer, as it is commonly known, is particularly notable for its collection of Impressionist art and cutting-edge modern art exhibitions. The museum also houses the Billy Wilder Theater, run by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.
Built by the Janss family's Janss Corporation and wildly successful from its earliest stages, the Westwood Village shopping district successfully retained its cozy village atmosphere even as the San Diego Freeway came through the area in the 1950s and high-rise office towers went up around it in the following decades. However, much of this construction was planned around the never-built Beverly Hills Freeway; in combination with a perceived parking shortage at UCLA, high-density development in Westwood has created some of the worst traffic congestion in Los Angeles. Even with the opening of numerous municipal parking structures in the 1990s and 2000s, finding a parking spot in Westwood Village is still a notoriously difficult task. With the proximity of Westwood's towering business area to its shops that line the streets around UCLA, parking and traffic issues dominate local planning debates.
Today, while Westwood is again regarded as one of the safest neighborhoods in the city, its retail sector has been slow to recover in the face of increased competition from Century City, the newly revitalized Culver City, the very popular Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, and mid-city attractions like Park La Brea's The Grove, as well as Downtown Los Angeles which itself is going through a renaissance. Recently, it has been notoriously difficult for new stores to stay in business.
The Los Angeles California Temple, the second-largest temple operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is on Santa Monica Boulevard in Westwood. The temple grounds also includes a Visitors' Center open to the public and the headquarters for the Church's missionary efforts in Los Angeles. The church purchased the land for the temple from silent film star Harold Lloyd in 1937, but did not open the temple until 1956.
The temple grounds are also home to the Los Angeles Regional Family History Center (LARFHC), which is open to the public as well. It is the second-largest branch in the Family History Library system of the LDS Church, and contains more than 100,000 microfiche and 30,000 books.
Single-family homes tend to be east and southeast of UCLA, particularly in the areas behind the LDS temple. Housing in the portion of the district bounded by Sepulveda, Santa Monica, Westwood, and Wilshire Boulevards is mostly low- or medium-rise apartment buildings catering to upscale young professionals, as well as some UCLA students. Most UCLA students in Westwood, however, live in the hilly area of low-rise apartments between Veteran Avenue and the campus' western boundary.
Because of consistently high demand and the district's proximity to so many Westside attractions and businesses, rental housing in Westwood is very expensive relative to most areas of Los Angeles. For all but the wealthiest UCLA students, living off-campus in a Westwood apartment necessitates sharing a room. (Westwood North Village is the main region in which students dwell.) As a result, many UCLA students live south of campus in Culver City and the Los Angeles districts of Mar Vista and Palms, both in private housing and in large UCLA-owned apartment complexes. Significant numbers of UCLA students also live in the San Fernando Valley, but heavy traffic congestion through the Sepulveda Pass and Beverly Glen can wreak havoc on commutes between the Valley and Westwood.
Businesses owned or operated by the Iranian community are clustered along Westwood Blvd., earning it the sobriquet Little Persia.
As of the census of 2000, it is estimated that there were 47,844 people residing in the Westwood neighborhood. The ethnic or racial makeup was 62.53% non-Hispanic White, 2.10% Black, 0.15% Native American, 23.06% Asian, 0.15% Pacific Islander, 3.19% from other races, and 5.46% from two or more races. 7.13% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
The median income for a household was $60,752, and for a family was $89,946. The per capita income was $47,428.
Los Angeles Public Library operates the Westwood Branch. The Westwood Branch Library on Glendon Avenue was recently built (several years ago) on the site of an abandoned parking lot.