The Nazi compound high in the Santa Monica Mountains may not be a secret to born and bred Angelenos (it's a sightseeing stop on the Rustic Canyon hike), but it's still one of those strange, "only in LA" artifacts that underscores the city's rich and mysterious history.
Travel Channel's "Off Limits," a show about uncovering cities' hidden secrets, focused on Los Angeles for last night's series premiere. With historian Randy Young, host Don Wildman reveals that Los Angeles was supposed to be the "seat of American fascism" from where Adolph Hitler could rule the United States and restore order -- at least according to landowners Winona and Norman Stephens. The Stephenses began construction on the "Murphy Ranch" in 1933, a fifty-acre compound in the hills that was built to be a self-sustaining nazi community. Old blueprints reveal plans for a huge mansion complete with a 400,000 gallon water tank and a concrete-walled power station (the latter two are intact but have been defaced by graffiti).
Coming across an ornate, wrought iron gate, Young reveals that it was designed by renowned African-American architect Paul Revere Williams. He quips, "They may have been Nazis, but they were Nazis with taste."