Photo Gallery of The Village Green (originally known as Baldwin Hills Village)
by James Black

page created April 2, 2010. I plan to add new photos on an ongoing basis as I collect them.
page updated April 9, 2010.

The Village Green, originally known as Baldwin Hills Village, is a large greenbelt apartment complex in Los Angeles. The VG was designed in the mid-1930s and completed in 1942; it was converted to condominium ownership in the 1970s; named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1993; and named a National Historic Landmark in 2001.

The Village Green comprises 627 units on 64 acres. Units contain one, two or three bedrooms; each has its own private, enclosed patio. The Units are organized around parking "courts", and each unit has dedicated use of a single-car garage contained within separated garage-only row buildings, as well as use of stalls in the surface parking lots.

The key figure in the VG's conception and site selection was architect Clarence Stein, the visionary residential site planner and spokesman for the New Town/Garden City movement, responsible for the design of other well known communities including Radburn and Sunnyside Gardens; and the design was carried out by architects Reginald Johnson, Lewis Wilson, Edwin Merrill, and Robert Alexander.

There isn't too much photodocumentation of it on the web. The best websites I have found for information and photos of the VG are here:

I have started taking photos of the VG this year, for the purpose of populating this gallery and documenting the VG as well as giving me a way to practice with my new digital camera (Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3).

I read the book Toward New Towns for America by Clarence Stein, the architect chiefly responsible for the concept and site planning of the VG, as well as several other communities. Stein regarded the VG as the most successful of them. He was trying to improve on the standard model of suburban single family developments, like any orthodox architect would, but some aspects of his ideas seem dated - in particular, his fixation on separating pedestrian traffic from vehicular traffic, and keeping cars tucked safely away from where people live. Stein's influence is largely responsible for the horrors of mid-century public housing projects, I think. The site design of the VG, although it's great to go for a walk through it, or visit your neighbors, or let your kids play outside, makes it one of the most pedestrian-hostile environments in the city. On the main busy street running along the north, there is no sidewalk and a frontage road with parking, forcing the few pedestrians to walk into the VG. It doesn't deter me from walking places, and I'm at the east end nearest the strip malls with the super markets and restaurants, but it deters most VG residents from walking outside its confines.

Another irony of the VG is that Stein intended to use land more efficiently than standard single-family housing by building rowhouses with communal green spaces, rather than having individual lots each with yards and garages; the VG has about the same density as a typical single-family home residential neighborhood. With so much green space and lawn, that it seems gratuitous and unsustainable by today's urban standards. So part of what makes it so gracious is exactly why no new apartment complex will ever duplicate it, it's simply not dense enough to make money for a developer.

The foregoing was not exactly a coherent essay about the place - it was cobbled together from emails I have written previously. Someday I might try to write something more considered.

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