History of the Chamber
The history of the Chamber goes hand in hand with the history of the City of Beverly Hills. Partners for over 85 years, the Chamber has been instrumental in the evolution of the City, both in its community and business landscapes. Rich in tradition and rich in accomplishment, Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce helped to create the brand known around the world as "Beverly Hills."
The United States Census of 1920 counted 674 people as residents of the newly incorporated City of Beverly Hills. Known as “Midway between Los Angeles and the Sea,” the new community, while steeped in pride and optimism, was facing inevitable challenges in those early years.
The real estate boom in the early 1920’s had created a series of serious issues for the residents, and new businesses needed to support the population growth. On May 1, 1923, sixty people gathered from the community in the first meeting of what would quickly become the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce.
Matters discussed at the first meeting included the need for a new city hall and library, a telegraph office, street signs to direct travelers to Beverly Hills, and more city parks. The local newspapers did not cover any items pertaining to the city, and transportation was in dire need of improvements. The city had one drug store, although no coin telephone for the use of those who were “in town.” Telephone service in general was poor, as was the mail service and school facilities.
At the 2nd meeting on June 4th an organization was formed, and on June 11, 1923, a motion to incorporate a Chamber of Commerce passed, and twenty people were voted in as incorporators. The Chamber drafted formal articles of incorporation and on July 16, 1923, petitioned the State of California that the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce be incorporated “to promote the economic, commercial, industrial, civic and social welfare of the people of the City of Beverly Hills and vicinity.”
The state granted the petition on July 20, 1923, and the Chamber went to work. Highlights from the first several decades of the organization’s history include:
The Chamber petitioned and secured the widening of Wilshire Boulevard from downtown Los Angeles, and the extension of bus service into Beverly Hills. This allowed many of the early businesses to locate along the new thoroughfare. A Chamber-sponsored parade “The Evolution of Transportation” inaugurated the new service in 1928.
- In an effort to provide a high quality education system for the growing population, the Chamber was instrumental in forming the Beverly Hills Unified School District, including Beverly Hills High School.
- Film legend Mary Pickford partnered with the Chamber of Commerce and initiated the “Christmas Nights” campaign to promote decorating outside trees, homes and storefronts during the holiday season. Decorations were judged and prizes awarded on an annual basis.
- During the Depression, the Chamber established an “Unemployment Bureau,” which provided jobs, food and clothing to those in need. The Chamber of Commerce also proudly housed the local offices of the National Recovery Association and Federal Housing Administration in its building.
- Popular humorist, Will Rogers, and Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce formed an alliance to secure a post office grant, along with a federal appropriation of $300,000, to build a post office facility. An elaborate dedication ceremony was sponsored by the Chamber on April 28, 1934 when the post office became operational.
- The seriousness of World War II put all city development on hold. The Chamber sponsored Red Cross drives, as well as a “Buy a Bomber” bond and raised significant amounts of money in support of the war effort. At the war’s end, “Victory Gardens” were planted at every school in the City and residents were encouraged to grow and harvest vegetables and flowers.
- The Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting in June of 1948 and announced the “Forward Beverly Hills” program in celebration of its first twenty-five years. It was designed to “encourage and strengthen the strong spirit of community cooperation already existing in Beverly Hills.”
- The success of “Forward Beverly Hills” led to the October 1948 official groundbreaking for the new Chamber of Commerce Building at the newly purchased lot at 239 South Beverly Drive.
- During the 40s and 50s, traffic became a concern within the booming business district of Beverly Hills, and the Chamber was not going to take a back seat in the drive to maintain a quality of life for both residents and businesses. 1953 saw one-way traffic established along Brighton Way and left turn lanes created along Little Santa Monica Boulevard. Public transit was also seen as a solution to the traffic situation, and so the Chamber pushed for more bus service along the southern portion of the City’s business district.
In This Section
- Mission Statement
- History of the Chamber
- Board of Directors
- Chamber Staff
- Chamber Publications
- Press Center
- Site Search
- Site Map
- Join the Chamber
- Member Directory
- Member Discounts
- Hot Deals
- Member Events
- Chamber Events
- Press Center
- Shop Local Offers
- Join our Email List