Murphy Ranch, more commonly known as the “Nazi Bunker,” sits in the hills of the Pacific Palisades. It’s creepy because had Germany won WWII, this is supposedly the place where Hitler planned to rule the world. With a 375,000 gallon water tank, a diesel power plant, and many other amenities, this estate could’ve harbored a world fascism headquarters for an uninterrupted year. To the misfortune of worldwide fascist domination, construction on the ranch was interrupted by the federal government the day after Pearl Harbor.
In 2013, it’s perhaps a comical ruin of what never was. Hidden in LA’s 6th richest census tract and watched over by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, it has become home to local hooligans… beer cans scatter the grounds and graffiti covers every inch of poured concrete. This current narrative fits in more with the area’s history. After all, just down the creek from Murphy Ranch is the former Uplifters’ Clubhouse where bohemians hid out during Prohibition to keep the party going.
Despite its hidden nature, access is pretty simple. If you go up Capri from Sunset, you turn right on Casale Road and just park wherever you can, so thank you benevolent Palisades homeowners for letting us use your street parking. Anyway, if you turn back west an head down the road it will turn into Sullivan Fire Road. After a short while, the gates to the estate will appear. When there’s a fork in the road, turn left to find an unruly amount of stairs. Good for simplicity’s sake, and good for sculpting your butt.
The first thing you encounter when entering this lake of meditation is the “Court of Religions” honoring Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. There’s an authentic reproduction of a 16th-century Dutch Windmill. There’s a shrine devoted to Ghandi containing some of his ashes. While this is a busy and eclectic place, few envrions beg you to quietly contemplate like the Lake Shrine. For more information check here: http://www.lakeshrine.org/
According to Forbes’s most recent tally of the 1%, the richest Americans have found their successes in technology. As Warren Buffet and the Walton family might comment, it doesn’t hurt to own an insurance company or a discount superstore either. But, this was not always the case.
Between the Gettys, the Rockefellers, and the Hunts, oil used to be the golden ticket. In 1957, J. Paul Getty was named the richest man in America with over $1 billion. This title, or rather a minor controversy between Fortune and the New York Magazine over this title, inspired the following quote from the billionaire himself: “If you can count your money, you don’t have a billion dollars.”
Getty might not have been able to count his money, but he could count his Italian masterpieces. He felt his Pacific Palisades ranch house, purchased in 1945 along with 64 acres of oceanfront property, was unequipped to display such fine antiquities. As a zoo might recreate a rainforest for their orangutans, Mr. Getty recreated a Pompeian villa to house his Italian art collection. The property is now home to the ranch house, the Villa, the 44,000 piece collection as well as a 20,000 volume research library and the UCLA/Getty Master’s Program on the Conservation of Ethnographic and Archaeological Materials.
To those of us who know nothing of ancient Roman art and architecture, the Villa acts as one of the many portals planted in Los Angeles where the line between fantasy and reality is blurred. For more information about this portal, check here: http://www.getty.edu/visit/see_do/architecture.html
It looks like a steel box painted by Mondrian, but it’s actually a modern house constructed entirely out of pre-fabricated materials. Charles and Ray Eames originally designed the house for John Entenza’s Case Study program. They were so impressed with their own handiwork that they also lived in the house from 1949 until the mid-80’s.
Even though the husband and wife design team is best known for their furniture and for their experimental film “Power of 10” (watch here), this house put them on the architectural map as leaders of the modern style. For more about this house, check here: http://www.eamesfoundation.org/