Beverly Gardens Park
Dating back to the early 1900s, Beverly Garden Park remains one of Beverly Hills’ most beloved historic landmarks. The linear park is integral in the city’s original master plan and represents one of the first applications of the City Beautiful Movement in Southern California. Along Santa Monica Boulevard, Beverly Gardens Park separates the commercial and residential districts and is the most visible expanse of green space in the city.
In 1906, a group of investors headed by American oilman and real estate developer, Burton E. Green, formed Rodeo Land and Water Company in present-day Beverly Hills. Master landscape architect Wilbur D. Cook, a protégé of famed landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmsted, was enlisted to design the development’s street plan. Cook departed notably from typical, orthogonally gridded subdivisions commonly found in the region. In his plan, he set aside a three-block greensward for public use. It was called Santa Monica Park and contained a Lily Pond and the iconic forty-foot Beverly Hills Monument Sign.
Twenty-five years later, the park expanded by twenty additional blocks and prolific landscape architect, Ralph D. Cornell, designed its master plan. Building on Cook’s work, Cornell integrated innovative style for multi-purpose recreational needs. The park was christened Beverly Gardens Park in 1931.
After decades of well-worn use, the park needed restoration and rehabilitation. Historic water features were missing, deteriorated or not functioning. Original pergola structures showed dire need of repair. The granite pathways had eroded. Plants and hedges were sparse. Edging materials were broken or missing.
The City of Beverly Hills, community members, and consultants coalesced behind a comprehensive restoration that retained the park’s original vision and character-defining features, but in an environmentally sustainable way. They prioritized preserving and protecting the most fragile elements of the park, such as the significant trees and landscape features, pathways, wooden pergolas, and water features.
In compliance with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards, the Lily Pond and Electric, Gargoyle, and Doheny Fountains were renovated, rehabilitated or recreated for improved functionality and beauty. Broken tiles and stonework were recreated, trenches and drainage were repaired, and basins and plinths cleaned and restored. The fountains were also designed to use recirculated water.
Significant gardens, such as the Cactus Garden and Foothill Rose Gardens, were restored and rehabilitated to maintain their character and design intent. However, landscape design refreshed plants with low-water or drought-tolerant selections, reduced turf area with planting, and replaced the spray irrigation system with a water-wise system—achieving 45-50% water savings. Bioswales were added to six blocks maximizing the amount of time water spends in the swale, reducing stormwater runoff and pollutants.
The team also focused on modern-day community needs. An ADA-accessible restroom facility and pedestrian-friendly crosswalks were compatibly designed and engineered to ensure greater accessibility and safety. Ambient lighting on pedestrian pathways improved visibility and prevented light intrusion into neighboring properties.
Completed in 2019, this remarkable project restored the original vision and defining features of this century-old park, while making environmentally sustainable, ADA accessible, and adding modern infrastructure and design features to bring it to the twenty-first century.
Beverly Gardens Park’s rehabilitation earned a Conservancy Preservation Award in 2020.