Topanga is a census-designated place (CDP) in western Los Angeles County, California, United States. Located in the Santa Monica Mountains, the community exists in Topanga Canyon and the surrounding hills. The narrow southern portion of Topanga at the coast is between the city of Malibu and the Los Angeles neighborhood of Pacific Palisades. As of the 2010 census the population of the Topanga CDP was 8,289. The ZIP code is 90290 and the area code is primarily 310, with 818 only at the north end of the canyon. It is in the 3rd County Supervisorial district.
Topanga is the name given to the area by the Native American indigenous Tongva tribe, and may mean "where the mountain meets the sea" or "a place above." The name in the Tongva language, Topaa'nga, has a root topaa'- that likely comes from the Chumash language. It was the western border of their territory, abutting the Chumash tribe that occupied the coast from Malibu northwards. Bedrock mortars can be found carved into rock outcroppings in many locations.
Topanga was first settled by Mexicans in 1839. In the 1920s, Topanga Canyon became a weekend getaway for Hollywood stars with several cottages built for that purpose. The rolling hills and ample vegetation served to provide both privacy and attractive surroundings for the rich and famous. During the 1960s, Topanga Canyon became a magnet to many new artists. In 1965 Wallace Berman settled in the area. For a time, Neil Young lived in Topanga, first living with producer David Briggs then later buying his own house. He recorded most of his After the Gold Rush album in his basement studio in 1970. Charles Manson had previously been living in Topanga, where he had briefly befriended both Neil Young and Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys. Members of the Manson Family began their campaign of murder on July 31, 1969, with the murder of Topanga resident Gary Hinman, a music teacher who had opened his home to anyone needing shelter.