La Mesa Drive is one of the most iconic streets in the city of Santa Monica.
Opened in 1923 as the Canyon Vista Tract, a development of the Santa Monica Land and Water Company, La Mesa Drive quickly became one of the most sought-after addresses in the entire city.
Six-blocks long, La Mesa Drive is a collection of vintage architectural treasures and elegant homes, dating primarily from the 1920s and 1930s. The street is accented with dramatic Moreton Bay fig trees, which provide a constant shady canopy overhead, while above-ground roots convey a storybook feel below. Vintage street lamps and lanterns illuminate La Mesa for evening strolls and drives.
The list of prominent architects who have built on La Mesa is long and distinguished. The street offers the only opportunity to view the lone North American home designed by prominent Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer. Long considered one of the great masters of 20th Century modernism, Niemeyer was a principal contributor to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, chief designer of the city of Brasilia, and winner of the Pritzker Prize, architecture’s highest honor.
Famed architect John Byers has left the most profound impact on the landscape of the street as he is responsible for eight homes on La Mesa Drive. Self-trained as a builder and architect, Byers was long fascinated with native California architecture and its Mexican and Spanish roots. Interested in using traditional materials, he often hired old-world craftsmen to create wrought iron, tile, and adobe brick for his work. Byers was so taken with the street that he and his family actually lived on La Mesa for almost thirty years.
Other influential designers whose architectural legacy is evident on La Mesa Drive include Elmer Grey, Paul Williams, Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr., H. Palmer Sabin, Julius Davidson, and Marston, Van Pelt & Maybury.
With such an abundance of extraordinary homes, it is no wonder that La Mesa Drive has long been one of the most desired and sought-after neighborhoods in all of Los Angeles.
Throughout the years the street has been home to an impressive list of Hollywood icons and cultural luminaries. Broadway and film star, Kathryn Grayson (Kiss Me Kate, Showboat), producer Flo Ziegfeld (The Ziegfeld Follies) and his actress wife, Billie Burke (Glenda in The Wizard of Oz), director, Fritz Lang (the landmark German Expressionist film, Metropolis), writer Francis Faragoh (Frankenstein, Little Caesar) and director, Franklin Schaffner (Planet of the Apes/The Boys from Brazil) have all lived on La Mesa Drive. More recently, the street has been home to writer, Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park), director Mel Brooks (The Producers/Blazing Saddles) and his wife, Anne Bancroft (The Graduate/Torch Song Trilogy), producer Roger Corman (The Raven/Frankenstein Unbound) actress, Laura Innes (ER), Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys, and director Blake Edwards (Breakfast at Tiffany’s/10) and his wife, Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins/The Princess Diaries.)