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The area known today as Rodeo Drive was originally surrounded by a large swamp, a wild grape vineyard and a small town of indigenous people. The first European travelers to set foot in the area were members of Don Jose Gaspar de Portola's company. Portola was a Spanish explorer and the first Governor of provincial California. The group of Europeans traveled on an existing trail, which is now Wiltshire Boulevard, and ended their journey at the current La Cienega Park.
The indigenous population, the Tongva, thought of the swamp as a holy site due to its precious resources of fresh water and food and referred to the swamp as 'The Gathering of the Waters,' Portola's company translated this name into Spanish and called the area 'El Rodeo de Las Aguas.' In 1838 an Afro-Latina and early California feminist, Dona Maria Rita Valdez de Villa, was granted the deed to the area after her soldier husband's death. Dona Maria operated the Rancho Rodeo de Las Aguas until 1854 when she sold the property to Bejamin D. Wilson.
Burton E. Green and other investors bought the property in 1906 with dreams of turning the area into a mixed use subdivision. Green named the development company the Rodeo Land and Water Company and the main street Rodeo Drive. The current world famous shopping district began its transformation in the 1970's. There are now over 100 high end boutiques and luxury hotels that offer exclusive shopping for the celebrity studded city. A few of the most celebrated clothing designers occupying Rodeo Drive are Armani, Gucci, Christian Dior, Coco Chanel, Ralph Lauren, and Valentino. The jewelry stores boast names like Cartier and Tiffany while other nearby stores include I. Magnin, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Yves Saint Laurent.