New book tells history of Hancock Park

| September 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

AUTHOR Jane Gilman.
Photo by Billy Taylor

Founding editor and co-publisher of the Larchmont Chronicle Jane Gilman has published a book that lifts the lid on the history of Hancock Park, an area that she describes in the book as “rich in history, classic architecture, and remarkable individuals who have called it home.”

Publishing the Chronicle from 1963 to 2015, Gilman had a front-row seat to the comings and goings of the historic neighborhood. She puts that knowledge to good use in “Inside Hancock Park,” a biography of the neighborhood and of its founder, G. (George) Allan Hancock.

“I wanted people who live here to know who G. Allan Hancock was because I think that many people take the name Hancock for granted, and they don’t realize that there is this incredible man who developed this neighborhood, among the many other things that he did,” said Gilman last month as we met to discuss her recent book.

Gilman spent nearly three years researching G. Allan Hancock, who developed the then-suburb in 1919 into the desirable neighborhood of 1200 homes that it is today. He was a man of many talents that included scientist, musician, oilman, engineer, aviator and philanthropist, Gilman learned.


When asked what she most enjoyed learning, Gilman notes how Hancock’s personal history was so colorful because his family was so poor: “They were barely getting by from income on the farm,” she explains. That is, at least until the family struck oil.

After the Hancock family’s fortune changed, Gilman said that G. Allan used his money wisely while supporting philanthropic causes. In addition to operating the Rancho La Brea Oil Co., he founded the California Bank, co-founded the Automobile Club of Southern California, and was one of the organizers of the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra. In 1923, Hancock donated 23 acres to Los Angeles County, which is now the location for LACMA and the La Brea Tar Pits Museum.

“The more I read about Hancock, the more impressed I was with his versatility and his ingenuity. He wanted to do it all,” says Gilman.

The history of Hancock Park doesn’t end with G. Allan. In fact, Gilman says she enjoyed researching and writing about all of the challenges that “kept getting thrown at Hancock Park residents” over the years — including issues like palm tree removals and a proposed freeway set to divide the neighborhood. Not to mention all of the area’s “interesting characters” like the Native American who would direct traffic on Wilshire Boulevard, the story of Nat King Cole coming into the neighborhood, and when musician Norwood Young placed 19 life-size (and anatomically correct) statues on his front lawn on Muirfield Road.

“All of these stories brought back really great memories because I so enjoyed working on them at the Larchmont Chronicle. There is so much history in this neighborhood, and I got to meet so many great people,” concludes Gilman.

“Inside Hancock Park” is available now on Amazon and at Chevalier’s Books.

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Category: Entertainment

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