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Hancock Park

June 05, 2008|Pauline OConnor

ONE OF L.A.'s oldest neighborhoods, Hancock Park was originally part of the vast Rancho La Brea (Spanish for "the tar") deeded to Maj. Henry Hancock in 1860 by Jose Jorge Rocha, the son of a prominent Portuguese immigrant. Early residents included some of the most prominent and well-to-do members of Los Angeles society, including the Chandlers, Huntingtons, Dohenys and Van Nuys. Paul Williams, A.C. Chisholm and John Austin were among the notable architects hired to design Hancock Park's lavish estates.

In line with the neighborhood's designation as one of the city's 22 Historic Preservation Overlay Zones, homeowners may not alter exteriors, add on or demolish without having plans approved by their local board. Its stately environs contain peerless examples of Tudor, Beaux-Arts, Regency and Greek Revival architecture styles; the posh Los Angeles Tennis Club, where an equity membership costs $20,000; and the Wilshire Country Club, founded in 1919.

Bounded by Melrose Avenue, Wilshire Boulevard, Highland and Rossmore avenues, Hancock Park proper is mostly residential.

But prime shopping, dining and cultural opportunities within walking distance abound, as you'll see below.

LOOK TO THE EAST

Koan Collection (6109 Melrose Ave., [323] 464-3735) carries an array of items such as opium beds, Buddhist and Hindu deities, fountains, shrines, colorful handmade glass lamps and chandeliers imported from India, Indonesia, China, Thailand and Turkey.

ITALIAN STALLION

Reservations at Osteria Mozza (6602 Melrose Ave., [323] 297-0100; mozza-la.com) are hard to get, but you don't need one at the marble-topped mozzarella bar, below, where co-owner Nancy Silverton often prepares the No. 1-selling antipasti, grilled Moroccan octopus.

A LITTLE HAVANA

The mojitos at the atmospheric Cuban spot Xiomara (6101 Melrose Ave., [323] 461-0601; xiomara restaurant.com) are made with freshly squeezed sugar cane juice and served in a tilted glass for an extra-tipsy effect.

LOCAL COLOR

Posing a stark contrast to the restrained local style, Youngwood Court (Muirfield Road at 3rd Street), known to locals and tourists as the "House of Davids," is adorned with 17 replicas of Michelangelo's famed statue. The residence's owner, a self-proclaimed recording artist named Norwood Young, is reputed to have been inspired by a dream.

CHEAP LAUGHS

The 99-seat ACME Comedy Theater (135 N. La Brea Ave., [323] 525-0202; acmecomedy.com) features sketch shows, improv and stand-up performances. All single-show tickets are $10.

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-- Pauline.OConnor@latimes.com

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