Size: 138 acres
Elevation: 1,820 feet
Location: Between the Los Angeles Basin and the San Fernando Valley See map
Recreation Value: bordered by Griffith Park and frequented by hikers and other lovers of sweeping LA basin views.
Habitat Value: rare ecosystem, home to butterflies, the coast horned lizard, and the Plummer's mariposa lily.
Best-known human feature: The Hollywood Sign
HOWARD HUGHES BUYS A TINSELTOWN LANDMARK
That Cahuenga Peak has remained undeveloped to this day is a lucky result of Howard Hughes' difficulty with women. A remnant open space in a spreading sea of development, the peak had already become famous as a backdrop for the Hollywood Sign when the famed industrialist, aviator, and film producer bought it in 1940. Hughes planned to build a mansion for his girlfriend, famed film star Ginger Rogers, whom he intended to marry.
But the relationship failed before the house got built. Hughes died in 1976, and the land remained in his estate for another 20 years. In all that time--sixty years total-- hikers drifted over from Griffith Park, butterflies bred in the chamise, and lizards scuttled beneath the chaparral. The city expanded to the edge of the peak, making it even more valuable as a rare close-to-home open space. And the Hollywood Sign and its undeveloped backdrop became a symbol of fame, fortune, and infinite opportunity--the Hollywood Dream.
AN OPPORTUNITY LOST AND FOUND
In 2002, the Hughes estate put 138-acre Cahuenga Peak on the market, presenting a rare opportunity to protect a large, iconic open space in the heart of the nation's most densely settled region. The City of Los Angeles hoped to purchase the land as a natural extension of Griffith Park. But at the height of the real estate market, fundraising fell short, and a development group from Chicago scooped up the property and secured rights to build several estates along the ridgeline.
With the land subdivided, it was again listed for sale in 2008 for $22 million--and once again it seemed that there might be a chance to protect it. In April 2009, The Trust for Public Land secured a one-year option to purchase the property with the hopes of preserving it for generations to come. And because of the falling real estate market, this second chance comes at a very reasonable price of $12.5 million, a little more than half of what the land was listed for in 2008.
Help us take advantage of this last chance and write a real Hollywood ending to the story of Cahuenga Peak. As land prices begin to rise, another chance will not soon come again.
Please help protect the Peak. Donate today.