Looking Back: Clifford Reid and the Hollywood Riviera

Clifford Reid and the Hollywood Riviera

Shooting for the Stars

 

By Denise Kano

 

Admiring the scenic beauty and a mild climate that reminded him of the elegant French Riviera, developer Clifford Reid fell in love with the unique, square-mile property along the coastline just north of Palos Verdes, and he visualized another Riviera.

Reid had started his career in Portland, but with the exciting growth all over Southern California in the mid-1920s, he soon set his sights on this area. Entranced by the motion picture industry, and enthused about the open land south of Redondo Beach, Reid felt it was a natural location for the Hollywood crowd. He came up with the name, “Hollywood Riviera” as he imagined the hillside community as a movie star playground; notwithstanding the name “Hollywood” being good for advertising.

In 1927, Reid began developing the 607 acres for the Huntington Land Company. There were original plans for a major thoroughfare connecting the area with Los Angeles, to be called the Hollywood Palos Verdes Parkway. Part of this is still in existence today as far as Torrance Boulevard.

Reid began building homes with a Spanish architectural design in keeping with his original vision of a luxurious, Riviera-like oasis along the California coast. Reid’s home, located on Monte D’Oro, was the first home built in the Riviera and is still considered magnificent for the area. Early visitors to his home included Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Clara Bow, Marion Davies, and John and Ethel Barrymore.

Potential land buyers were taken by wagon, auto, and street car to the outlying sites, provided lunch, and given a promotional speech to persuade them to buy lots. The real estate salesmen, all working for Reid, regularly went to hotels in order to seek out tourists and bring them to the Hollywood Riviera development for the sales pitch.

In 1931, the Hollywood Riviera Beach Club opened on the cliff south of Redondo Beach. Reid saw this club as a central attraction whose glamorous image would help entice homebuyers. Residents of the Hollywood Riviera development automatically became club members, although dues were required to use the pool and for any special events.

Also during this time, construction began on a $22,000 home located on Calle Mayor near Monte D’Oro for Mr. and Mrs. Leiland Irish of Hollywood, designed to provide “an atmosphere of hospitality found in the California hacienda homes of an earlier day,” according to the Torrance Herald.

Although the Depression brought about uncertain times for the Hollywood Riviera, when the war ended there was increased development as more homes were built. In the 1950s, the modern-day “Riviera Village” was developed to ensure there were services and shops available to the residents.

South Bay Digs, Looking Back, Clifford Reid, HistoryIn the present day, the Hollywood Riviera maintains a distinct Mediterranean charm. Stroll through the eclectic Riviera Village on any given day and it’s not uncommon to see cameras set up for a film shoot of some sort, taking advantage of the area’s exceptional appeal. In this way, the Hollywood Riviera continues to attract the film industry and   preserves its relationship with Hollywood, as first envisioned by Clifford Reid.

Riviera Previews
  • Hollywood Riviera has a total population of 35,000 residents. The median age is 38.69. The average household income is $101,064.
  • The Hollywood Riviera is considered part of the City of Torrance, but a majority of the homes have a Redondo Beach zip code.
  • The Hollywood Riviera Beach Club was destroyed by a fire in 1958, and the area is now known by locals as “Burnout Beach” in reference to the club’s demise.
  • Two sets of stairs still stand leading up the hill from Torrance Beach that once led to the Hollywood Riviera Beach Club.
  • In 1963, a 160-foot high rise apartment building was proposed for the site of what is now Miramar Park (also called Dolphin Park). The plan was vetoed by Riviera residents.
Photographs from the Marshall Stewart Collection, Torrance Historical Society Archives
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