The brainchild of oil millionaire Alphonzo Edward Bell, Bel Air is a residential neighborhood of Los Angeles whose name has become synonymous with wealth, exclusivity, and material excess. With its oldest estates dating back to 1923, Bel Air has long been a residential status symbol, complete with the towering archways of its gated entries, featuring the words "Bel Air" plainly but prominently displayed at the top. Though the neighborhood can be accessed from several areas, the two main entrances are called the East Gate and the West Gate. The East Gate is located off Sepulveda Boulevard at Bel Air Crest Drive, and the West Gate is on Bellagio Drive, accessible from Sunset Boulevard, just past UCLA.
Though the gates never close or lock, and the security guard rarely steps out of the booth to investigate anyone, these physical boundaries make Bel Air's exclusivity clear.
Howard Hughes, Judy Garland, and Alfred Hitchcock are just a few past residents of this neighborhood, and current celebrities include Steve Martin and Clint Eastwood.
In recent times the grandiose homes of Bel Air have been the symbol of a bygone era, emblematic of years past, and an economy of excess. This area of LA is unapologetically extravagant, and makes no attempt to comply with the current 21st century trend toward frugality and modesty, but Bel Air is Bel Air and will remain the land of mansions and manicured lawns, gatekeepers and high fences for as long as those metal arches grace its entrances.