project Getty Center

J. Paul Getty. Mr. Jean Paul Getty. Old JPG, oil baron and once purported to be the wealthiest private citizen in the world.  When Mr. Getty died in 1976, he bequeathed $1.2 billion to his charitable trust, The Getty Foundation, making the J. Paul Getty Museum the most richly endowed museum on earth.

A hefty chunk of that endowment went to building the The Getty Center, a six-building complex that sits on a hilltop in Brentwood. If you’ve not been to the Getty Center (the big brother to the Getty Villa, in Malibu), it may be more than expected. Don’t think museum, think compound.

The Getty Center includes a large museum, a research institute and library, an art conservation institute, a digital information institute, an arts education institute, a museum management school, a grant program center, gardens and cafe.

Plan to spend a good part of the day taking in the antiquities, drawings, manuscripts, paintings, photographs, sculptures and decorative arts. Stroll through the gardens and watch school kids on field trip roll down the hills. Pack a picnic and enjoy the gorgeously manicured gardens as you eat, or, stop into the casual cafe for a bite and take in sweeping views of the city on the outdoor patio.

Take Note:

  • The museum is free, but parking is $15. If you don’t mind a little uphill walk, you can park on the PCH for free. Or park twice, pay once: Get same-day parking at both the Getty Center and Getty Villa for one $15 fee at the visitor information desk.

art, history

project Murphy's Ranch

MURPHY'S RANCH, the abandoned ruins of a former Nazi-compound. 

In the early 1930s, a mysterious German man, known simply as Herr Schmidt, befriended a couple of wealthy American Nazi-sympathizers. He claimed to possess supernatural powers and ties to the Third Reich, and he convinced Winona and Norman Stephens (our ever-pliable American couple) that Hitler’s takeover of the United States was imminent.

The facts surrounding this story are sketchy, even for historians. But the thing that’s definitely true is that there is a compound of overgrown, spray-painted ruins tucked away in a canyon in the Pacific Palisades, and you can hike to it.  

Rumor is the couple hoped to establish a Nazi Utopia that could sustain them and a small following through the apocalyptic-style months that would follow Hitler’s conquering of America. They built an elaborate infrastructure that included a 395,000-gallon concrete water tank, a 20,000-gallon diesel fuel tank and a power station.

It’s all still there today.  

Take Note:

  • The hike is just under 4 miles.
  • It is accessible from the residential end of Sullivan Ridge Fire Road (street parking at the intersection of Capri Dr. and Casale Rd.) or via Rustic Canyon from Will Rogers State Historic Park.
  • The compound is connected by a series of steep, stone stairs. Prep for sweat.