Plans for Mile’s second century gain momentum

| March 3, 2022 | 0 Comments

LOOKING west on Wilshire. Photo courtesy of MMRA

Miracle Mile passed through its 100th year during the pandemic, so now the view is forward-looking to the next 100 years. Plans are picking up speed to celebrate the past and the future. Personal stories — some of which look back to as early as 1921 — are being collected. Also, a colossal block party is in the works.

“We are looking towards summer, when we can get together and have a block-style party closing off as many blocks as possible, and come together as a community to kick off our second century,” said Hana Kawano, who helped initiate the Second Century Celebration for the Miracle Mile Residential Association (MMRA).

She expects “music, speakers and delicious food from our local businesses, as well as historical tours of our Period Revival architecture and more! …  We look forward to inviting all of the wonderful neighbors as well as dedicated leaders and members of the community who have made Miracle Mile so special.”

A celebration had been planned for 2021, when MMRA members were to walk door-to-door and reach out to families, from those whose ancestors date back to the area’s beginnings to new families who call the Mile home.

The pandemic dampened the mood, but the enthusiasm has returned. Plaques are planned for 100-year era homes, and lawn signs will dot front yards with QR codes that, when read, will tell each owner’s unique story.

“We’re going to let them [the residents] tell the story of their own neighborhood and participate by adding their stories to the celebration,” said MMRA President Greg Goldin.

“We’ve sputtered getting this thing off the ground,” added Goldin, but it’s moving forward along with an effort to engage the commercial strips on Wilshire and La Brea, the museums and other cultural centers, as well as smaller merchants.

They are, after all, “historically part of the first linear downtown built in the nation,” anchored by department stores fronting Wilshire — Desmond’s, Silverwoods, May Co. and others — with spacious parking lots in the rear.

“Crawling out from a two-year-long pandemic means we need to dust out our cobwebs and get our neighbors to join us in planning this big celebration!” Kawano said.

“There are three things we’re looking for: centenarians; your personal story (or they can call me); and stories about your older [1921-24] house,” said Kawano. The story behind her house includes a Mr. Masselin, whose name is on the original deed. The Spanish-style home was built in 1923, or 1924, on Sierra Bonita Avenue — one block over from “Masselin” Avenue.

Kawano recently interviewed resident Louise Meyers who, at 95, has yet to blow out candles on her 100th cupcake, but she’s getting close.

Ms. Meyers’ Miracle Mile story starts in the 1970s, when she moved to her apartment next door to Tom Bergin’s on Fairfax Avenue. She had never sat behind the wheel of a car, and she walked to work at Prudential Insurance on Wilshire (now the SAG-AFTRA building). For groceries, she headed to the Original Farmers Market.

“She was there during the Boulevard’s heyday, its glory days. It’s just interesting how different life was,” Kawano said.

The celebration is still in the planning and research stage; the latter is buoyed by resident volunteers Kari Garcia and Mary Woodward, who will be taking on the role of Celebration Coordinator going forward. More volunteers are needed and encouraged to write to

Residents’ stories and interviews will be published in the MMRA newsletter.

Ross’s Folly

It was more than a century ago when A.W. Ross looked across the landscape dotted with sticky black tar pits and oil derricks. He purchased 18 acres along a dirt road with plans for a shopping center with the newly-popular automobile in mind.

One-story houses and two-story duplexes were built north and south of the dirt road (now Wilshire Boulevard) in Period Revival styles, and Art Deco commercial buildings would soon grace the street as well. His friends had thought he was crazy, but “Ross’s Folly” would be dubbed “The Miracle Mile” in 1928, when the stretch of dirt road had evolved into million dollar properties (source

As residents look into the next century, there are plenty of day-to-day activities that keep the MMRA in the moment.

“We’re always putting out fires, from literally putting out fires (a recent one was at a construction site)… to crime, outreach to the homeless, traffic. Construction is endless, between the subway, …” museums and mixed-use, high-rise developments, Goldin said.

The association also works to “keep the HPOZ (Historic Preservation Overlay Zone) intact.

“We were deeply involved in following Senate Bills 9 and 10 possibly endangering historic preservation zones. We believe HPOZs will not be affected, but we’re not sure, as the Los Angeles City Council has not completed its own allowed rule-making for these new state laws.

“We’re trying to maintain the architectural neighborhood as best we can.”

Planned later this year is a neighborhood community clean-up that unites residents and the business sector “and gives a sense of pride” to both, and an impromptu dog show and walk, added Goldin.

Annual community meeting

The MMRA’s Annual Community Meeting — the first in two years — was scheduled to be held March 3 on Zoom, as the Chronicle went to press.

“What’s happening to Wilshire” and “Miracle Mile is 100: Let’s Party Like it’s 1921!” are among items on the agenda.


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