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BREATHING ROOM

Just off Sunset, shade from the urban glare

November 20, 2003|Todd Henneman

AN Art Deco reminder of old Hollywood, the Argyle hotel, is on one side. The hip hangout of new Hollywood, the Standard hotel, is on the other. In between is an urban refuge that goes undiscovered by the masses speeding by on the Sunset Strip, just 26 steps away.

William S. Hart Park is a green patch on the quirky quilt of West Hollywood. The silent-film cowboy owned the house and yard here in the 1920s and donated both to the public in 1944. But to friends and neighbors who gather around the wisteria-shaded picnic tables, the three-quarter-acre park is their second home -- a place of contemplation, peace and play.

The best seat is a bench facing Two Guns Bill's gray-shingled house and well-trampled lawn, which is perpetually being reseeded. That's where dogs fetch, wag and wrestle, all hidden from Sunset by a canopy of trees. There's Teabiscuit (a Pomeranian) and Cosmo (a Jack Russell terrier) and, if you're lucky, Bruiser, a pit bull-ridgeback who relishes the fountain spraying his stomach.

Their owners? They read, rest, gossip, sunbathe, flirt. It's the essence of a neighborhood park, a place where paths cross and past meets present. A plaque quotes Hart: "I am only trying to give back to the American public some part of what the American public has already given me."

-- Todd Henneman

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