This 160-acre park at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains has one main loop, plus a bevy of dirt hiking trails. It’s also got one of the friendliest off-leash dog policies. The sea of buff trainers and their sleek, sweaty clients can get to be too much during the busy morning and weekend workout traffic, but you’ll be rewarded with some of the best views of the city (and, if you’re lucky, a chance to gawk at power-walking celebs).
The southern entrance is at the end of Fuller Avenue in Hollywood; the northern entrance is off the 7300 block of Mulholland Drive.
|Address:||2001 N Fuller Ave
Los Angeles 90046
|Opening hours:||Dawn to dusk|
Runyon Canyon Park is a 160-acre (65 ha) park in Los Angeles, California, at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains, managed by the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. The southern entrance to the park is located at the north end of Fuller Avenue in Hollywood. The northern entrance is off the 7300 block of Mulholland Drive. The Runyon Canyon Road, a fire road that is closed to public motor vehicle access, runs roughly through the center of the park between the northern and southern entrances along Runyon Canyon itself, and there are numerous smaller hiking trails throughout the park. The highest point in the park at an elevation of 1,320 ft (402 m) is known as Indian Rock. Because of its proximity to residential areas of Hollywood and the Hollywood Hills, celebrity sightings are common. The park is also noted for having a fairly liberal dog policy, with dogs allowed off-leash in 90 of the park’s 160 acres (0.65 km2).
Runyon Canyon Park was purchased in 1984 from its last private owners, Adad Development, for use as a city park by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy and the City of Los Angeles. “No Man’s Canyon” was the English name given to the gorge which lies above Franklin at Fuller Avenue, and extends north to Mulholland Drive. It is reputed to have been a seasonal campsite for local Gabrielino/Tongva Indians, who hunted in the area known to them as the Nopalera.
In 1867, “Greek George” Caralambo, AKA Allen, received the 160-acre (65 ha) parcel by federal patent in appreciation for his service in the US Army Camel Corps. Allen became famous by association when the bandit Tiburcio Vasquez was captured while hiding out at his home in 1874.
Alfredo Solano, a prominent civil engineer, civic leader, symphony patron and one of the founders of the Los Angeles Athletic Club, purchased the canyon a year after Vasquez was hanged in 1876. Solano held the canyon as an investment before his widow, Ella Brooks Solano, sold the majority of the land to Carman Runyon in 1919. Runyon, having recently retired from a successful coal business in the East, came out with his new bride to enjoy the California climate. The marriage failed and Runyon moved to Hollywood where he met and married Ellen Hunt. The new Mrs. Runyon was an accomplished horsewoman and the Runyons purchased the canyon to use for riding and hunting. They built a small bungalow near the Fuller Avenue entrance.
Runyon lent his name to the canyon, the road and Carman Crest Drive before he sold the estate in 1930 to John McCormack, the world-famed Irish tenor. McCormack had fallen in love with the estate whilst filming “Song O’ My Heart” there in 1929. The film was an early “talkie” and McCormack’s salary for the picture went to purchase the property and build the mansion he called “San Patrizio”, after Saint Patrick. He and his wife lived in the mansion until they returned to England in 1938. Remains of terraced gardens and buildings can still be seen below the Vista gates.
McCormack toured frequently and in his absence the mansion was often rented out to such celebrities as Janet Gaynor and Charles Boyer. The McCormacks made many friends in Hollywood, among them Errol Flynn, Will Rogers, John Barrymore, Basil Rathbone, C. E. Toberman and the Dohenys. After his farewell tour of America in 1937, the McCormacks deeded the estate back to Carman Runyon, expecting to return at a later date. World War II intervened, however, and, McCormack’s health was broken by a wartime concert tour. McCormack died in 1945.
In the meantime, Huntington Hartford, heir to the A&P Grocery fortune and patron of the arts, purchased the property in 1942, moving into the mansion and renaming the estate “The Pines”. He commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright and his son Lloyd Wright, who had offices in Hollywood, to draft ambitious plans for developing the estate. These included a “cottage hotel” lower canyon and a futuristic “play resort” country club on the ridge. When neighborhood opposition to the design put the project on hold, Hartford had Lloyd Wright design and build a pool pavilion on the crest of the hill at Inspiration Point, facing Hollywood. Schemes were later proposed for galleries in the canyon, but after 1955, Hartford began to spend more time in New York where his Gallery of Modern Art was eventually built. In the mid ’40s, Hartford wrote an adaptation of “Jane Eyre” called “Master of Thornfield,” which ran for two weeks in Cincinnati and starred Errol Flynn as Mr. Rochester. This partnership led to Flynn staying in the pool-house briefly in 1957–58, and is the origin of a legend that “The Pines” was Flynn’s estate.
In 1964, Hartford offered the property as a gift to the city, but this was turned down by Mayor Sam Yorty. As Lloyd Wright recalled in 1977, “Here was this very wealthy man and he wanted to give something very stunning to Hollywood. The Chambers of Commerce, the hotel owners and the various businesses were jealous of the park, and with the help of the City officials, the City refused to give us permits. Hunt was so angry that he wanted to get out immediately and sold the property at a low price to Berman, who then destroyed the mansion and let the place run down.”
Jules Berman, who had made a fortune importing the well-known Mexican coffee-flavored liqueur Kahlúa, saw the estate potentially as a “Tiffany development, a beautiful subdivision of 157 luxury homes.” After purchasing the canyon, he razed Son Patrizio and the guest houses to avoid paying taxes on the deteriorating structures. His “Huntington Hartford Estates” development, trading on the name of its famous former owner, encountered resistance led by Daniel deJonghe, a park activist. The project was stopped in 1978 before building could begin. The Lloyd Wright pool-house remained standing until 1972 when a fire in the canyon destroyed all but its natural stone foundations.
Between 1994 and 1999, two parallel subway tunnels for the Metro Red Line were mined underneath the park. The tunnels run approximately from the southeast corner to the northwest corner of the park boundaries and are located deep underground.
The bench overlooking Los Angeles, featured near the end of the 1992 Seinfeld episode #42, titled “The Trip, Part 2”, is located in the park; in 1998, singer Rozz Williams’ ashes were scattered in the park after his suicide.