Modern development began after the establishment of the 600-acre (2.4 km2) Pacific Branch of the National Home for Disabled Soldiers and Sailors in the 1880s. A small community sprang up outside that facility's west gate, taking on the name Westgate. Annexed by the City of Los Angeles on June 14, 1916, Westgate's 49 square miles (130 km2) included large parts of what is now the Pacific Palisades and a small portion of today's Bel-Air. Westgate Avenue is one of the last reminders of that namesake.
Local traditions include the annual decoration of San Vicente Boulevard's coral trees with holiday lights and a Maypole erected each year on the lawn of the Archer School for Girls, carrying on that set by the Eastern Star Home previously housed there. This building was the exterior establishing shot for the "Mar Vista Rest Home" that provided a key scene in the 1974 film Chinatown.
More than 300 police officers helped evacuate 3,500 residents during the 12-hour fire, and some 2,500 firefighters battled the blaze, pumping water from neighborhood swimming pools to douse flames. Pockets of the fire smoldered for several days. Even as firefighters battled what was to become a Bel Air disaster, another fire erupted in Santa Ynez Canyon to the west. That blaze was contained the next day after consuming nearly 10,000 acres (40 km2) and nine structures and burning to within a mile of Bel Air and Brentwood.
The fires were the fifth-worst conflagration in the nation's history at the time, burning 16,090 acres (65 km2), destroying more than 484 homes and 190 other structures and causing an estimated $30 million in damage.
Brentwood was the site of the 1994 stabbing death of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, outside Simpson's Bundy Drive condominium. Her ex-husband, football player and actor O.J. Simpson, was acquitted of a charge of killing her.
As a member of a group of nearby neighborhoods that are affluent and attractive, it is known as one of the "Three Bs", along with Beverly Hills and Bel Air.
A view of Wilshire Boulevard westbound, toward the ocean. Brentwood begins on the right-hand side of the street.
Brentwood, like nearby Santa Monica, has a temperate climate influenced by marine breezes off the Pacific Ocean. Residents frequently wake to a "marine layer," a cover of clouds brought in at night which burns off by mid-morning. The topography is generally split into two characters, broadly divided by Sunset Boulevard: the area north of Sunset is defined by ridges and canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains; south of Sunset the area is hilly. The southern district features underground springs which bubble up into a small creek along "the Gully" near the Brentwood Country Club, and in the "Indian Springs" portion of the University High School campus, formerly the site of a Native American Tongva village.
The 2000 U.S. census counted 31,344 residents in the 15.22-square-mile Brentwood neighborhood—or 2,059 people per square mile, among the lowest population densities for the city and the county. In 2008, the city estimated that the population had increased to 33,312. In 2000 the median age for residents was 35, which was old for city and county neighborhoods. The percentages of residents aged 50 and older were among the county's highest.
The neighborhood was considered not especially diverse ethnically within Los Angeles, with a relatively high percentage of white people. The breakdown was whites, 84.2%; Asians, 6.5%; Latinos, 4.5%; blacks, 1.2%; and others, 3.6%. Iran (27.2%) and the United Kingdom (4.8%) were the most common places of birth for the 21.1% of the residents who were born abroad—which was a low percentage for Los Angeles as a whole.
The median yearly household income in 2008 dollars was $112,927, considered high for the city and the county. Renters occupied 48.4% of the housing stock, and house- or apartment-owners held 51.6%. The average household size of two people was considered low for Los Angeles. The 5.7% of families headed by single parents was low for city and county neighborhoods.
The Brentwood Presbyterian Church was the site of the wedding of actor Jimmy Stewart and Gloria H. McLean in 1949. Los Angeles Times
St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church, 11967 Sunset Boulevard
San Vicente Boulevard is divided by a wide median on which stand many large coral trees. This green belt replaced a Pacific Electric trolley track, and the trees have been named a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.
Brentwood features a number of residential subdistricts:
Kenter Canyon: the larger canyon containing Crestwood Hills, between Bundy Canyon and Mandeville Canyon. Home to Kenter Canyon Primary School.
Mandeville Canyon: westernmost part of Brentwood, north of Sunset; extends about 3 miles towards the North
The Getty Center opened on the heights of Brentwood in 1997. Photo by Roman Fuchs
Brentwood's Barrington Recreation Center has an indoor gymnasium which converts into a small auditorium with a capacity of 250. Outdoors is a lighted baseball diamond, an unlighted baseball diamond, lighted indoor basketball courts, lighted outdoor basketball courts, a children's play area, a community room, a lighted football field, picnic tables, a lighted soccer field, lighted tennis courts, and lighted volleyball courts. The 1.5-acre (0.61 ha) Barrington Dog Park is on the grounds of the recreation center.
Economy and businesses
Brent-Air Pharmacy, run by the founding Lassoff family from its inception up until June 2007, has served Brentwood for more than 50 years. The drug store has been the scene of many famous scandals and, like its defunct West Hollywood cousin Schwab's, is known as the pharmacy to the stars, where many now-notable actors and actresses worked as delivery boys or "candy counter" girls.
Vicente Foods is an independently owned and operated grocery market that has served Brentwood for decades. Other local markets include Whole Foods and Ralphs.
A popular area for dining and coffee for local residents is located in Brentwood Village at the intersection of Barrington and Sunset. More than a dozen restaurants and coffee shops are located within a two-block stretch offering a wide variety of cuisine.
Dutton's Brentwood Books, a local landmark called by Sunset magazine "the last of the truly independent bookstores," closed its doors in April, 2008.
Seventy percent of Brentwood residents aged 25 and older had earned a four-year degree by 2000, a high percentage for the city and the county. The percentages of residents in that age range with a bachelor's degree or greater were high for the county.
^Bozorgmehr, Mehdi, Claudia Der-Martirosian, and Georges Sabagh. "Middle Easterners: A New Kind of Immigrant" (Chapter 12). In: Waldinger, Roger and Mehdi Bozorgmehr (editors). Ethnic Los Angeles. Russell Sage Foundation, December 5, 1996. Start page 345. ISBN 1610445473, 9781610445474. Cited: p. 347. "[...]in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and Brentwood, known in local parlance as "the three Bs.""
^ abcd "Brentwood," Mapping L.A., Los Angeles Times
^ Diversity "measures the probability that any two residents, chosen at random, would be of different ethnicities. If all residents are of the same ethnic group it's zero. If half are from one group and half from another it's .50." —Los Angeles Times