Will Rogers Memorial Park - Atlas Obscura

Will Rogers Memorial Park

Hidden away among the quiet streets of Beverly Hills, this small park is a haven for walkers and wildlife. 

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Tourists flock to Rodeo Drive to window shop the expensive stores and art galleries, but if you keep going towards the residential area known as the Flats and take a right when you hit Sunset, you’ll come across the triangular Will Rogers Memorial Park.

Just five acres in size and often blissfully quiet, it’s home to squirrels, ducks, large koi fish, and turtles, all of whom live in and around the large pond and fountain. The fountain and surrounding area were originally part of the grounds of the Beverly Hills Hotel, which was opened in 1912 as part of a plan to develop the area, and they donated this green space to the community. 

When Sunset Park opened to the public in 1915, it was the first municipal park in the then-new city of Beverly Hills. It quickly became a celebrity enclave when actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks built their legendary home, Pickfair, in 1919. 

In 1926 entertainer Will Rogers was appointed the first “Honorary Mayor” of Beverly Hills, and in 1952 the city renamed it Will Rogers Memorial Park in his honor.

Smart, tidy, and lush—as befits the local area—it has lawns, rose gardens featuring the celebratory Beverly Hills Centennial Roses, palm trees, a dragon tree, decomposed granite walkways, energy-efficient security lights, an irrigation system, and several signs and plaques.

There are restrooms too, and the men’s one became infamous in April 1998 when singer George Michael was arrested for committing a “lewd act” there—a moment that he parlayed into the video for his song “Outside.”

In 2015 the fountain was renamed the Margaret J. Anderson Fountain in honor of the first manager of the Beverly Hills Hotel, which you can clearly see at the top end of the park.

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August 25, 2023

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