In 1922 REALTOR® A. W. Ross was standing next to a barbed wire fence along a dirt road in Los Angeles. In place of barley fields he saw opportunity. In less than twenty years that road running west from La Brea Avenue would be a segment of Wilshire Boulevard known as the Miracle Mile.
According to an article in the May 1938 issue of the National Real Estate Journal, Ross’ experience in designing and building subdivisions had taught him that people who can afford to move from lowlands to highlands. Looking at undeveloped land on higher ground nearby, he envisioned lovely homes with access to businesses along a boulevard that would replace his dusty road.
Ross first approached wealthy prospects, offering his road through the barley fields at $100 per front foot. He was laughed at, with one man telling him he should have his head examined.
Ross then tried the “common folks,” and sold the land as “the chance of your lifetime.” By 1930 most of the “common folks” had cashed in. “I had the satisfaction of seeing many a family in ordinary circumstances…step out of the picture with more money than such family ever expected to see in the world,” Ross recalled. “Thinking of that fact is today one of my greatest pleasures.”
In 1929 an affluent man who had laughed at Ross six years earlier paid him $600,000 each for properties Ross himself had bought for $6,500.
In the meantime “height limit” skyscrapers were constructed, beginning with the Wilshire Tower Building in 1927. The E. Clemm Wilson and Dominguez buildings would follow, but the trend was for smaller buildings with ample parking behind the businesses. By 1938 Ross’ $100 front foot was valued as high as $3,500.