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Description

Remarkable Early Bel Air Real Estate Subdivision Map

Fine early subdivision map, showing the first "Allotment" of lots offered for sale in the community of Bel-Air. Allotment one is the northeastern most part of Bel Air, consisting of the lots east of the golf course.

The map includes the signature of Karl B. Schurz, one of the earliest real estate agents in Beverly Hill. At the top left, the start of the residence of Alphonzo Bell, the founder of Bel Air, can be seen, along with pencil notes on a single lot (27), which bear teh name Frank Mxxxx? (Meline?).

This is almost certainly the earliest marketing map for Bel Air.

Bel Air

The community was founded in 1923 by Alphonzo Bell. Bell owned farm property in Santa Fe Springs, California, where oil was discovered. He bought a large ranch with a home on what is now Bel Air Road. He subdivided and developed the property with large residential lots. He also built the Bel-Air Beach Club in Santa Monica and the Bel-Air Country Club. His wife chose Italian names for the streets.

Bell, known for his almost puritanical morality and honesty, used portions of his initial profits to develop upscale real estate communities in West Los Angeles, including parts of Westwood, Beverly Hills, and Pacific Palisades. He became a real estate developer, anticipating the influx of Hollywood elite and other wealthy residents who would be lured by the burgeoning film industry. In 1922, building on over 600 acres that he had acquired, Bell founded Bel Air Estates, an exclusive and upscale neighborhood now known as Bel-Air, enhancing the surrounding area with lush vegetation, new roads, and utilities.

Bell designed, laid out and developed the Bel Air Country Club and the Bel Air Bay Club; and was a key player in the group that developed the Riviera Country Club. While many such clubs thrived on sales of bootleg liquor during the years of Prohibition, Bell refused to allow the sale of illegal alcohol, which lost him some membership. William Randolph Hearst's longstanding vendetta with Bell had started when Bell refused to sell a homesite to Hearst for his silent-film-star mistress, Marion Davies in the Bell's Bel-Air Estates development.

Bell and his wife Minnewa in 1921 built a showplace 42-room house on 1,760 acres in portions of the areas that are now Bel Air and Pacific Palisades which they called Capo Di Monte. Today nothing of the house remains, except for some of the terraced gardens and rock walls, and their former horse riding stables, which now constitute a portion of the Bel-Air Hotel.

Rarity

The map is extremely rare. No examples are shown in OCLC, but there is at least one surviving example, which is illustrated in several books on Los Angeles.

We have never seen the map on the market.

Condition Description
Includes signature of Karl B. Schurz