In Los Angeles, Vintage Houses Are Giving Way to Bulldozers

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In Los Angeles, Vintage Houses Are Giving Way to Bulldozers
The home where Ray Bradbury lived for 50 years in the Cheviot Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles was demolished in January. // Photo © Monica Almeida/The New York Times

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In Los Angeles, Vintage Houses Are Giving Way to Bulldozers
The home where Ray Bradbury lived for 50 years in the Cheviot Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles was demolished in January. // Photo © Monica Almeida/The New York Times

For 50 years, the science fiction writer Ray Bradbury lived and wrote at 10265 Cheviot Drive, a bright yellow stucco home built in 1937 that is tucked away on a winding street in an eclectic and charming, affluent neighborhood on the West Side of Los Angeles.

Or rather, that was once tucked away. Early one January morning, a team of demolition workers, armed with crowbars and backed by a bulldozer, showed up to begin a methodical dismantling of this piece of history in Cheviot Hills, fending off neighbors alarmed by the racket. By the end of the month, all that was left were two chimneys and a few stucco walls.

The loss of the Bradbury home was the latest in a tidal wave of teardowns that has spread across Los Angeles over the past two years. Developers, seeing the potential for high profits in this housing-starved region, have been bulldozing vintage homes in middle-class enclaves — Arts and Crafts cottages, Spanish Mission-style bungalows — to replace them with lot-filling, towering modern homes that typically sell for over $2 million.

Fights over this kind of redevelopment have broken out in communities across the nation, but the battle has become particularly pitched in Los Angeles, with its rich diversity of architectural styles, abundance of wealth and streets that look like movie sets. This is in no small part because many of the most striking neighborhoods here were built, or are lived in today, by a sizable contingent of set designers, movie producers and actors. ….

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