A community in Southern California where transcendent beauty comes with the territory
High above Pacific Palisades, the view from Temescal Ridge takesin a vast area of Santa Monica Bay. As the sun drops to thehorizon, a hiker pauses to watch the denouement to the day.
“Struck by beauty?” asks a smiling woman passing him as sheraces down the trail.
Well, as a matter of fact, yes. It’s one of those SouthernCalifornia moments when the light brings the ocean, the mountains,and the city into perfect harmony. “I’m giving in to it,” hereplies. “Just for a few minutes.”
Seconds later the big payoff comes. Along the upper edge of thesetting sun, a vivid emerald orb appears ― a variation on thefabled green flash ― that lingers like a spotlight beforeseemingly dissolving into the sea.
For the record, there are no guarantees that Pacific Palisadescan deliver another sunset like that. But in no other part of LosAngeles will you find a community where transcendent beauty justseems to come with the territory.
Local life centers on a commercial area known as the Village,its name a reminder of how residents cherish the Palisades’small-town, family-friendly ways. That was what drew KatieO’Laughlin, owner of Village Books, when she moved here in theearly 1980s. A sense of community is also central to herindependent bookstore, which has evolved into a gathering place forPalisades residents. “We really are a community bookstore,” saysO’Laughlin. “The bookstore is a reflection of the Palisades, andwe’ve developed a good feeling for what people like to read. Aftera year or two here, you get to know everyone by name.”
Even with its small-town vibe, though, Pacific Palisades isn’tlikely to be confused with Gopher Prairie, Minnesota. Main Streethere is the fabled Sunset Boulevard. And, as O’Laughlin describesit, the annual Fourth of July Parade features not just the usualprocession of dressed-up dogs and Girl Scouts but celebrityresidents too.
Nor can the average small town boast three major landmarks fromthree famous folks: the legendary humorist Will Rogers, thespiritual leader Paramahansa Yogananda, and J. Paul Getty, one ofthe world’s wealthiest men.