History of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California
Rodeo Drive (pronounced Roh-DAY-oh) of Beverly Hills, California is a shopping district famous for designer label and haute couture fashion. The name generally refers to a three-block long stretch of boutiques and shops but the street stretches further north and south.
Back when California was part of Mexico, on August 3, 1769, Don José Gaspar de Portolà, the first governor of provincial California, and his entourage, the Portola expedition, became the first Europeans known to arrive in the area, having traveled an existing Indian trail (present-day Wilshire Boulevard) to the present-day site of La Cienega Park, named for a large swamp — "ciénega" in Spanish — and namesake of adjacent La Cienega Boulevard. The Tongva ("Gabrieleño") people living there considered it to be a holy site because of its precious commodity, water, and the abundant food supply it provided. Their name for the site, "the Gathering of the Waters", translates to Spanish as "El Rodeo de las Aguas."
While Portolà fell somewhat short of reaching Cíbola, the expedition's chaplain, Friar Juan Crespí, wrote in his journal of " [a] large vineyard of wild grapes and an infinity of rose bushes. After traveling about half a league we came to a village of this region. People came into the road, greeted us and offered seeds."
Following the death of her Spanish soldier husband, Afro-Latina and early California feminist icon Doña Maria Rita Valdez de Villa was granted the deed to the area in 1838. She operated the Rancho Rodeo de las Aguas there until its sale in 1854 to Benjamin D. Wilson and Henry Hancock for $4000. "Hotel California," the Beverly Hills Hotel, now stands where her adobe home once stood, about a half-mile north of the present-day Rodeo Drive shopping district.
In 1906, Burton E. Green and other investors purchased the property with plans for a mixed-use subdivision. With a nod to the region's heritage, they named their company the Rodeo Land and Water Company and the development's main street Rodeo Drive. However, the main force to Beverly Hills as the exclusive shopping area it is today was the star stud boutique, Giorgios .The shopping district as presently constituted developed in the 1970s. The business district, which extends from Wilshire Boulevard to Santa Monica Boulevard, is at once an exclusive shopping district, but also a major tourist attraction. The "Rodeo Drive" business district also includes those businesses on the streets that lie for a few blocks in either direction. Some of the more famous retailers include Giorgio Armani, Bang & Olufsen, Bally, Bottega Veneta, Bijan, Brioni, Bulgari, Buccellati, Burberry, Brooks Brothers, Cartier, Chanel, CHANEL fine jewelry, Christian Dior, Coach, David Orgell, David Yurman, DeBeers, Dior Homme, Dolce & Gabbana, Domenico Vacca, Ermenegildo Zegna, Escada, Etro, Fendi, Frette, Gucci, Gucci jewelry, Guess, Harry Winston, Hermès, Hugo Boss, Jimmy Choo, Judith Ripka, Juicy Couture, Lacoste, Lana Marks, La Perla, Louis Vuitton, Max Azria, Max Mara, Michael Kors, Miu Miu, Prada, Ralph Lauren, Roberto Cavalli, Salvatore Ferragamo, Sergio Rossi, Stuart Weitzman, Tiffany & Co., Tod's, Valentino, Van Cleef & Arpels, Versace, Westime ,Yves Saint-Laurent, Omega Watches.