Rodeo Drive in 2012
|Location||Beverly Hills, California
Los Angeles, California
|South end||Beverwil Drive|
|North end||Sunset Boulevard|
|East||North Beverly Drive|
|West||North Camden Drive|
Rodeo Drive // is a two-mile-long street, primarily in Beverly Hills, California, with its southern segment in the City of Los Angeles. Its southern terminus is at Beverwil Drive, and its northern terminus is at its intersection with Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills. The name is most commonly used metonymically to refer to the three-block stretch of the street north of Wilshire Boulevard and south of Little Santa Monica Boulevard, which is known for its luxury goods stores. The larger business district surrounding Rodeo, known as the "Golden Triangle," which extends from Wilshire Boulevard to Santa Monica Boulevard, is both a shopping district and a tourist attraction.
In 1906, Burton E. Green (1868-1965) and other investors purchased the property that would become Beverly Hills, formerly named Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas, with plans for a mixed-use subdivision with a branch of the Los Angeles and Pacific Railway running North on Rodeo Drive before turning west at Sunset Boulevard. They platted the street that very year, in 1906. By 1907, 75x160 foot parcels on Rodeo were selling for $1,100 each. It became a bridle path in 1912, when the Beverly Hills Hotel was built on a former lima bean field. By November 1925, similar lots were selling for between $15,000 and $30,000, almost double what they'd been selling for in September.
The central part of Rodeo eventually became a business street with hardware stores, gas stations, beauty shops, and bookstores. In 1958, real estate developer Marvin Kratter bought 48,000 square feet of land at the corner of Rodeo and Wilshire Boulevard from the city of Beverly Hills. The acreage is across the street from the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and Kratter paid something over $2 million for it.
In 1967 Fred Hayman, "the father of Rodeo Drive," opened Giorgio Beverly Hills, the street's first high-end boutique. In 1968 Aldo Gucci opened a store on Rodeo, which catalyzed the process by which the street took on its present form. Van Cleef & Arpels opened in 1969, followed by a Vidal Sassoon salon in 1970.
According to erstwhile co-chair of the "Rodeo Drive Committee" Richard Carroll, the transformation of Rodeo Drive into an international center of fashionable shopping was sparked in 1971 with the opening of a new wing of the Beverly Wilshire. In 1980 Carroll noted that before then "There was nothing at all of an international nature on the street. Rodeo was purely local in flavor." In 1977 the Rodeo Drive Committee "launched a publicity campaign designed to make everyone around the world think of Rodeo Drive as the shopping street of the rich and famous." The RDC wanted to make Rodeo Drive an economic engine for Beverly Hills and spread the image of a "culturally elite lifestyle."
In 1976, Bijan Pakzad opened a showroom on Rodeo, which helped to solidify "Rodeo Drive's reputation as a luxury shopping destination." Pakzad touted his Rodeo Drive store as "the most expensive in the world," but, as Women's Wear Daily notes in relation to the claim, "he was known for hyperbole." By 1978 the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce was boasting that Rodeo Drive was "the essence of the best of all the shopping centers of the world" and by 1980 the city of Beverly Hills estimated that the Rodeo Drive shopping district accounted for as much as 25% of its sales tax revenues. The building at 332 N. Rodeo was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
The "Rodeo Collection," a 45 store, 70,000 square foot shopping mall opened in 1983 at 421 N. Rodeo Drive. The building is only four stories high with the first floor below street level in order to satisfy local building codes. The retail space initially leased for as much as $120 per square foot, which, according to an executive with commercial real estate firm Julien J. Studley, was "the highest price for any kind of space in the Los Angeles Area."
Two Rodeo Drive, another outdoor shopping center, was built in 1990. It initially housed, amongst other stores, Christian Dior and Valentino. The original developer, Douglas Stitzel, sold the property for about $200 million immediately after its completion. The shopping center was hard-hit by the early 1990s recession, with occupancy rates dropping to as low as 60%, and the buyers sold it at an almost $70 million loss in 2000. By 2007 the property was financially stable again and was sold to a group of Irish investors for $275 million. It resembles a “faux-European shopping alley” and features a cobblestone street. Some architects have claimed that Two Rodeo Drive is similar to a "theme park in the manner of Disneyland."
French fashion firm Lanvin opened a store on Rodeo in 2011. According to CEO Thierry Andretta local customers were expected to account for about 60% of the store's sales, with international tourists accounting for the balance, lending some credence to Rodeo Drive's reputation as an internationally renowned shopping area.
In 2003, Rodeo Drive was given an $18 million makeover which included widening the streets and the addition of crosswalks. The ficus trees lining the street were taken out and replaced with palm trees. In September of the same year, the Rodeo Drive Committee developed the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style. The Walk of Style features plaques set in the sidewalks along Rodeo Drive. Fashion icons are honored with the award for their work in style and fashion. At the intersection of Rodeo Drive and Dayton Way is the majestic, nude sculpture entitled "Torso." This famed statue was created by world-renowned sculptor Robert Graham and is the symbol for the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style. Recipients of the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style Award receive a "Torso" maquette also designed by artist Bob Graham.
Every Father's day, the annual Rodeo Drive Concours d'Elegance occurs on Rodeo Drive, displaying some of the world’s most expensive automobiles. Travel publisher Frommer's named it one of the "300 Unmissable Events & Festivals Around the World."
“Fashion’s Night Out” is an event that was created in 2009 in New York City in hopes of boosting the economy during the recession. Its goals were to “celebrate fashion, restore consumer confidence and boost the industry’s economy.” In 2012, 500 cities across the United States (including Los Angeles), as well as 30 cities around the world adopted the event. It is held annually in September on the same night worldwide. The carnival features a 60-foot Ferris wheel and other attractions on the three blocks of the Rodeo Drive business district.
The word rodeo as a term referring to the cowboy sports can be pronounced with the stress on either the first (//) or second (//) syllable. For the street in Beverly Hills, however, only the latter pronunciation is commonly used.
But back in 1964, when Fred Hayman started building his Giorgio Beverly Hills shop, Rodeo Drive was just a regular city street, with a grocer, a gas station and a hardware store. Hayman became its ambassador. He envisioned the street as an elegant home to the finest designers and boutiques, a magnet for starlets and socialites, like an American Champs-Elysees, a sexy, fun, camera-ready intersection of Hollywood and fashion. Giorgio Beverly Hills, located at 273 Rodeo Drive, boasted its own oak bar and pool table, where gentlemen could pass the time as the ladies shopped. Hayman welcomed browsers with a glass of Champagne. He personally invited celebrity contacts he met at the Hilton to experience his latest business venture, creating an air of sophistication among the clientele.
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