Bel Air

Bel-Air, a neighborhood in west Los Angeles, was founded by Alphonzo Bell, an oil tycoon, who purchased 600 acres of land and named it Bel-Air, or “Beautiful Air,” after the original Mexican land grant, Rancho San Jose de Buenos Ayres, and the Italian word “Bellissima,” meaning “beautiful.” The area attracted celebrities such as Clarke Gable, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Burt Reynolds. In recent years, many high-profile celebrities and film and music executives, such as Kareem Abdul Jabar, Serena Williams, and Jaclyn Smith have made Bel-Air their home.

Bell established an estate-planning office in the canyons to oversee the development of his vision, which is now the Hotel Bel-Air. The Bel-Air Association’s current location is at the intersection of Bel Air Road and Sunset Boulevard, 100 Bel Air Road. The neighborhood of Bel-Air now encompasses more than 2,000 properties, with boundaries defined by Mulholland to the north, Sunset to the south, Beverly Glen Boulevard to the east, and Sepulveda Boulevard to the west.

Aerial view of Bel Air. Photo from Trulia

The Italian Couple that Started it All

The land that is now known as Bel-Air was originally a rancho, called “Rancho San Jose de Buenos Ayres” (Saint Joseph of Good Air), which was granted to Maximo Alanis by the Mexican Governor, Manuel Micheltorena, on February 24, 1843. In 1922, Alphonzo Bell, a farmer who had recently struck oil in Whittier, CA, bought the Danzinger family estate, which consisted of 1,700 acres. He then began developing the community of Bel-Air, which his wife named. Mrs. Bell’s love of Italy was reflected in the naming of the streets, many of which have Italian names like Bellagio, Nimes, St. Pierre, Cuesta, and Capello. While it is often thought that the name Bel-Air was inspired by Alphonzo Bell’s last name, it is rumored that the original rancho “Saint Joseph of Good Air” and Mrs. Bell’s appreciation for Italy was the actual inspiration for the name. A combination of the Italian word for “good” or “Bello” and the English word for “Ayres” or “Air” resulted in “Bel-Air.”

Page 197 of Alphonzo Bell’s Biography by John O. Pohlmann from University of California Press

The first tract for the new community of Bel-Air was filed in 1923 and consisted of 128 lots for houses to be built. In 1925, a second tract was filed, which greatly expanded the community. The grandeur and idyllic nature of Bel-Air is attributed to the early architects who designed and built the houses, notable ones are: Summer Spaulding, Burton Schutt, Gerard Colcord, Butts and Butts, Wurdeman and Beckett, Roland Pearson, Paul Williams, Deman Scott, Robert Finkelhor, Roland Coate, James Delano, Paul Hunter, Wallace Neff, Gordon Kaufman, George Allison, John Byers, H. Roy Kelley, and J. Pierpoint Davis. Despite Bell’s policy of not allowing Hollywood actors to purchase property in Bel-Air, the community has been home to many famous movie stars and entertainment industry leaders, from the Beatles to Ronald Reagan, and it has been a peaceful retreat for many.


According to the 2000 U.S. census, Bel-Air had 7,691 residents within its 6.37 square miles, making it one of the most sparsely populated areas in the city and county, with a population density of 1,207 per square mile. In 2008, the city estimated that the population had risen to 8,253. The median age of residents in 2000 was 46, which is high compared to other city and county neighborhoods. The proportion of residents aged 50 and older was also higher than the county average. The median yearly household income in 2008 was $207,938, the highest of any neighborhood or city in Los Angeles County. Renters made up 14.5% of the housing stock, while homeowners accounted for 85.5%. The average household size of 2.4 people was considered typical for Los Angeles. The proportion of families headed by single parents (4.1%) was low for the city and county neighborhoods. The proportion of married people in Bel-Air was among the highest in the county, with 66.0% of men and 65.7% of women being married. There were 808 veterans, or 12.9% of the population. The neighborhood was considered “not especially diverse” ethnically, with a relatively high percentage of white residents (83.0%). Other ethnic groups included Asians (8.2%), Latinos (4.6%), African Americans (0.9%), and others (3.2%). Iran (26.1%) and South Africa (8.2%) were the most common places of birth for the 24.1% of residents who were born abroad, which is an average percentage for Los Angeles as a whole.

Some Fresh Hot Air-y Places

The Hannah Carter Japanese Garden, located in Bel-Air, was inspired by the gardens of Kyoto. The garden features many structures that were built in Japan and then reassembled on-site, such as the main gate, garden house, bridges, and shrine. The garden also includes antique stone carvings, water basins, lanterns, a five-tiered pagoda, and key symbolic rocks that were all brought from Japan.

A beautiful photo of the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden. Photo from Los Angeles Conservancy

The Bel Air Country Club is a private, members-only club that offers a variety of amenities and activities for its members. These include an 18-hole golf course, a tennis court, a swimming pool, a fitness center, and a clubhouse. The clubhouse features dining facilities and a bar, as well as event space for parties and meetings. The club also organizes social events and activities throughout the year, such as golf tournaments, tennis tournaments, and holiday parties. The club is known for its exclusive membership and its upscale facilities, as well as its beautiful location in the heart of Bel Air, which offers picturesque views of the surrounding area. Membership to the club is by invitation only, and is considered a status symbol in the exclusive community of Bel Air.

Aerial view of Bel Air Country Club from GolfDigest

The Getty Center is a museum and cultural center near Bel Air. It is one of two locations of the J. Paul Getty Museum, which is part of the Getty Trust. The Getty Center is set on a hilltop with beautiful views of the city, and is surrounded by gardens and terraces. The museum features a wide collection of art, including European paintings, sculptures, drawings, and manuscripts, as well as American and European photographs. The galleries are housed in several buildings, including the Getty Villa in Malibu, which is dedicated to the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. The Getty Center also features a research institute, the Getty Research Institute, which focuses on art history, conservation, and the history of architecture and the decorative arts. The Getty Center also has a library, conservation and scientific research facilities, and a performing arts theater. The center is known for its impressive collection of art, its beautiful architecture and gardens, and its research and educational programs.

A fantastic view of The Getty Center. Photo from CN Traveler

The Museum of Tolerance is a museum located in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles, a bit near Bel Air. It is a division of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a human rights organization that works to promote tolerance and combat hate. The museum’s mission is to promote tolerance and respect for human differences through education and exhibits that highlight the history of the Holocaust and other acts of genocide. The museum features a variety of exhibits and interactive displays, such as the Holocaust History Museum, which provides a detailed history of the Holocaust and its impact on Jewish people, as well as other groups that were targeted by the Nazi regime. The museum also includes a special exhibit on the history of human rights, which covers issues such as civil rights, genocide, and human rights abuses. Additionally, the museum offers educational programs and workshops for students and adults, and hosts a variety of events and lectures throughout the year. The Museum of Tolerance is considered one of the most powerful and important Holocaust museums in the world, known for its ability to educate visitors about the dangers of hate and intolerance.

Image of the Museum of Tolerance from ArchDaily

Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill & Jazz is a restaurant and jazz club owned by Herb Alpert, a well-known musician, composer, and record producer. The restaurant offers a variety of American cuisine, including steak, seafood, and pasta dishes. The menu is known for its use of fresh and locally-sourced ingredients. The restaurant also has a full bar, featuring an extensive wine list and a variety of cocktails. The main attraction of the Vibrato Grill & Jazz is the live jazz performances that take place in the evenings. The club features local and international jazz musicians, and is considered one of the best jazz venues in the Los Angeles area. The venue is also known for its intimate and elegant atmosphere, with a focus on live music and good food. The restaurant and jazz club is a popular spot for jazz enthusiasts and music lovers, as well as for those who appreciate fine dining.

Photo of the Vibrato Grill & Jazz from TripAdvisor

SHU-Sushi House Unico is a sushi restaurant known for its high-quality sushi and Japanese cuisine. The menu features a variety of traditional sushi options, as well as more contemporary rolls, sashimi, and other Japanese dishes. The restaurant is known for using only the freshest ingredients, and its fish is sourced from the best seafood markets. The atmosphere of the restaurant is elegant and sophisticated, with a minimalist decor, and a focus on the sushi. The restaurant is considered one of the best sushi restaurants in the area, and is known for its excellent service and knowledgeable staff. It’s a popular spot among sushi enthusiasts and foodies, as well as those who appreciate high-quality Japanese cuisine.

Inside the SHU- Sushi House Unico. Photo from Discover LA

The Bel Air Treehouse is a unique event venue built in the form of a treehouse and is set amidst the natural beauty of the surrounding area. The venue is designed to provide a secluded and intimate setting for events such as weddings, parties, and corporate events. The treehouse features a large deck area with views of the surrounding area, and a rustic interior with exposed wood beams and a fireplace. The venue can accommodate up to 150 guests and has a fully-equipped kitchen and restrooms. The Bel Air Treehouse is known for its unique and picturesque setting, as well as its rustic charm and intimate atmosphere. The venue provides a unique and memorable experience for those looking for a unique event space in the heart of nature.

Magnificent view of the Bel Air Treehouse. Photo from LA Times

The Hotel Bel-Air is a luxury hotel set on 12 acres of lush gardens and is known for its Mediterranean-inspired architecture, and its luxurious amenities. The hotel features a total of 103 guest rooms and suites, each of which is beautifully decorated with fine furnishings and elegant decor. The hotel’s amenities include a swimming pool, a spa, a fitness center, and a tennis court. The hotel also has a variety of dining options, including a formal restaurant, a casual grill, and a poolside cafe. The hotel is known for its impeccable service and its attention to detail, making it a popular choice among celebrities, business travelers, and discerning travelers looking for a luxurious and peaceful retreat. The Hotel Bel-Air is also home to a “Estate-planning office” which was built by Alphonzo Bell, the founder of the Bel-Air neighborhood.

Entrance to the luxurious Hotel Bel Air. Photo from Dorchester Collection

Fresh Air, Fresh Minds

In the year 2000, 66.1% of Bel-Air residents aged 25 and older had earned a four-year degree, which is a high percentage for both the city and the county. The percentages of residents in that age range with a bachelor’s degree or higher were also high for the county. The community is served by the Los Angeles Unified School District, and falls under Board District 4. As of 2009, the district was represented by Steve Zimmer.

Roscomare Road Elementary School is a public school that serves students from kindergarten to fifth grade. The school has a strong academic program, with a focus on core subjects such as mathematics, reading, and writing. Additionally, the school offers a variety of extracurricular activities and programs, such as music, art, and physical education, that aim to provide students with a well-rounded education. The school has a diverse student body and is known for its dedicated and experienced teachers and staff. The school is highly rated by parents, and considered one of the best in the area.

The Campus of Roscomare Road Elementary School. Photo from SchoolMint

Medical Care in Bel Air

UM Upper Chesapeake Medical Center provides the highest level of clinical expertise, state-of-the-art technology, and an exceptional patient experience to the residents of northeastern Maryland. Our focus is on improving and maintaining the health of the community by delivering high-quality care to all.

Frontage of University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center. Photo from University of Maryland School of Medicine

MedStar Health is a healthcare provider that combines the best aspects of academic medicine, research, and innovation with a complete spectrum of clinical services to advance patient care. As the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, MedStar Health offers more than 300 care locations, including 10 hospitals, 33 urgent care clinics, ambulatory care centers, and primary and specialty care providers. They also have the MedStar Health Research Institute and a comprehensive range of health-related organizations that are recognized regionally and nationally for their excellence. With one of the largest graduate medical education programs in the country, training 1,150 medical residents annually, MedStar Health is also the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University. The organization is a $6.7 billion, not-for-profit, regional healthcare system based in Columbia, Maryland, and one of the largest employers in the region. MedStar Health’s team of more than 31,000 includes physicians, nurses, and many other clinical and non-clinical associates who all support the patient-first philosophy of the organization, which combines care, compassion, clinical excellence, and an emphasis on customer service.

Frontage of MedStar Health. Photo from MedStar Health

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