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PALM LATITUDES

CITYSCAPE : Homing In

August 27, 1995|Mary Melton

"Graced by a new name, this formerly bleak and almost uninhabited sandy waste has become . . . an aristocratic suburb for attractive beach homes." So proclaimed The Times in a 1925 real estate profile of Palisades del Rey. The luxurious, fast-growing enclave afforded Pacific sunsets and beachfront frolicking. But the ocean wasn't the exclusive area's only neighbor; directly to its east were the runways of the Los Angeles International Airport. As the propellers of the 1950s gave way to the jet engines of the '60s, the noise beneath the takeoff flight path made the cliff-top dwellings unlivable. The city's Department of Airports condemned and ultimately tore down more than 900 homes in the early '70s, leaving behind their ghostly streets, sidewalks and lampposts. But the ruins aren't entirely uninhabited: the endangered El Segundo blue butterfly and about 90 other plants and animals unique to the 200-acre area, call it home.

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