While flipping about in old issues of the L.A. Times, we came upon the enlightening 1924 advert you see to the right, luring buyers for the famous Hollywoodland development, from which we inherited not only the iconic sign but the famous racist attitudes, it seems. See what it says?
…to the “Old Timer” of Los Angeles! You…..who have seen the fine residential districts of Los Angeles despoiled by metropolitan development—must realize now that Los Angeles is destined soon to be a city of millons.
Protect your family by procuring at today’s prices a home place in the Hills of Hollywoodland—secured by fixed and natural restrictions against the inroads of metropolitanism and yet within twenty-five minutes of Seventh & Broadway.
Today is Your best opportunity. Are you going to sit idly by and let the March of Progress pass unheeded?
And just what the heck are they talking about here? “…secured by fixed and natural restrictions against the inroads of metropolitanism”??! What the hell, amirite? Well, first of all, we must understand that in the teens and twenties of the last century, racially restrictive covenants in L.A. real estate deeds were under fierce attack. According to historian Josh Sides, in his fine book about black people in Los Angeles, L.A. City Limits, “in 1919, the California Supreme Court ruled in Los Angeles Investment Co. v. Gary that it was not legal to restrict sales of property based on race.” Of course, a few years later, in 1926, the U.S. Supreme court would uphold these same covenants nationally in Corrigan v. Buckley, but at the time this ad ran there was no way to know that that was on the horizon.
Furthermore, during the first half of the 1920s, according to Sides, the black and Mexican population of Watts was growing so rapidly that, in 1925, white residents begged L.A. to annex their then-independent city in order to prevent the election of a black mayor. In other words, right at the time this ad ran, the white people of L.A. were worried sick about darkies taking over their neighborhoods. It is in this context that we must read the heavily coded message about “the fine residential districts of Los Angeles despoiled by metropolitan development.” “Metropolitan” meant then in secret paleface lingo what “urban” means now. “Metropolitan development” means nothing more than black people moving in next-door and, if things progress as you know they’re gonna, marrying your daughter or worse. If that’s not plain enough for you, we turn to the lovely suburb of Eagle Rock, advertised heavily in the L.A. Times beginning in 1925, contemporaneously with Hollywoodland, through the lense of which we can see the whole thing laid out plain:
Favorable Restrictions help create a community of beautiful Homes! The Residents of Eagle Rock are all of the White or Caucasian race!
See, that’s what kind of restrictions they’re talking about. The kind that keep white people safe from living next to black people. It’s this kind of nonsense that gained this city the creepy moniker of The Great White Spot of America. It’s this kind of nonsense that the BIDs perpetuate into the present with their weirdly explicit fear-mongering about dark-skinned people in Hollywood. plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose yet again, eh, friends?
Both adverts, being from after 1923, are possibly still under copyright, and appear here under a claim of fair use.