Hancock Park is an affluent neighborhood in Los Angeles, California.
Hancock Park is bounded by Wilton Place on the east, Melrose Avenue on the north, Highland Avenue on the west, and Olympic Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard on the south. Hollywood lies to the north, Koreatown to the east, Mid-City to the south, and the Miracle Mile and Fairfax District to the west. Beverly Boulevard, Rossmore Avenue, Wilshire Boulevard and 3rd and 6th Streets are the primary thoroughfares running through the district.
Hancock Park is a large region of central Los Angeles adjacent to and sometimes overlapping with the Mid-Wilshire district. Hancock Park contains several smaller communities with distinct identities, including Wilshire Park, Larchmont Village, and Windsor Square.
Hancock Park was developed in the 1920s, by the Hancock family, with profits earned from oil drilling in the former Rancho La Brea (much of which is now the Miracle Mile district). Hancock Park owes its name to developer-philanthropist G. Allan Hancock, who subdivided the property in the 1920s. Hancock, born and raised in a home at what is now the La Brea tar pits, inherited 440 acres, which his father, Major Henry Hancock had acquired from the Rancho La Brea property owned by the family of Jose Jorge Rocha.
Some 71 oil wells were operating at capacity on the land from 1905 to 1910. Nine years later Hancock subdivided the property into residential lots. He leased 105 acres to the Wilshire Country Club with an option to buy. The Hancock Park development was started on Rossmore Avenue and moved west to Highland Avenue in 1921.
Architects such as Paul Williams, A. C. Chisholm and John Austin were hired to design homes for many of the city’s pioneer families. The list of families who moved into Hancock Park’s first homes reads like a “Who’s Who” of California: Doheny, Chandler, Huntington, Van Nuys, Crocker, Banning, Newmark, Van de Kamp and Duque, were some of the early residents.
After a 1948 Supreme Court decision barring the enforcement of racial provisions in restrictive covenants, popular jazz pianist and singer Nat King Cole purchased a house in Hancock Park. The Ku Klux Klan, still active in Los Angeles well into the 1950s, responded by placing a burning cross on his front lawn.
In sharp contrast to most Los Angeles neighborhoods, houses in Hancock Park are set well back from the street, most power and telephone lines are buried, and fences are strongly discouraged. The area also completely surrounds both the Wilshire Country Club and the Los Angeles Tennis Club. These characteristics, along with the area’s abundance of classic Los Angeles architecture, have made it one of the most desirable areas in all of Southern California ever since its development, and the average household income of its residents consistently ranks among the highest in the United States. In order to preserve its historic feel, Hancock Park is in the process of obtaining the designation of an Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) from the City of Los Angeles. This protection is anticipated to go into effect in late 2006.
Hancock Park still has a white majority, but has welcomed small numbers of wealthy blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Orthodox Jews (who attend synagogues and yeshivas on La Brea Avenue, Beverly Boulevard, and in the Fairfax District) into the district.
Hancock Park is within the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Public schools serving Hancock Park include Los Angeles High School, Fairfax High School, John Burroughs Middle School, Bancroft Middle School, Hancock Park Elementary School, and 3rd Street Elementary School. Private schools include Yavneh Academy, a Jewish school.