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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Highland Park

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 3, 2010 10:30pm | Post a Comment

This blog entry's focus is the Northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Highland Park. To vote for more Los Angeles neighborhoods to be the subject of future entries, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, vote here. To vote for Orange County communities, vote here. Please vote for as many as interest you!

 
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Northeast LA and Highland Park
 
As mentioned already, HLP is in NELA. Its neighbors are Pasadena to the northeast, Hermon and South Pasadena to the east, Montecito Heights to the south, Cypress Park and Lincoln Heights to the southwest, Mt. Washington to the west, and Eagle Rock to the north.
 

Roberto Reies Flores' Highland Park Tongva mural - The People of the Earth

EARLY ARROYO HISTORY

The Chumash lived in the region over 10,000 years ago before moving further north as the Hahamog'na branch Tongva arrived from the south. For tens of thousands of years the landscape was predominantly rolling hills and grasslands with wild grapes, clematis, sycamore, California live oak, willows and black walnut trees growing along the Arroyo Seco, a seasonally dry creek fed by springs.

Sparkletts


Yosemite

The many springs in the area allowed for the establishment of Sparkling Artesian Water (later Sparkletts) in 1925, Yosemite in 1926, Indian Head Water in 1928 and Deep Rock Water.
 
After the Spaniards conquered the Natives, they made it part of Rancho San Rafael. It was subsequently part of Mexico until the US won the Mexican-American War and took over. The founding of Pasadena in 1873 created the need for new transportation routes connecting it to Los Angeles. In 1876, the Sierra Madre Stage Coach began ferrying passengers through the area. Settlers began to arrive around what's now Highland Park shortly after, establishing the communities of Sycamore Grove, Garvanza, York Valley, Annandale, Hermon and others.

Figueroa and (New) York Blvd intersection in the 1880s


EARLY HIGHLAND PARK

In 1885, the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Railroad built the first wooden trestle bridge across the Arroyo Seco where Avenue 64 crosses the Arroyo Seco Parkway. The following year, the Pasadena Street Railroad established a horse-drawn trolley line through the area. The same year, 1886, Judson and Morgan named their land The Highland Park Tract. The following year,  William Lees Judson and his three sons established t he Colonial Glass Company. Development followed, although by 1888, the land boom had gone bust. Nonetheless, Highland Park was largely spared and Sycamore Grove was annexed in 1895. Garvanza was annexed in 1899. Today, they, along with districts like York Valley are more often viewed as subdistricts of Highland Park rather than separate communities, although all have very distinct atmosphere. 



The California Cycleway
 

BIKES 

The area early on began to attract bohemians and bandits, resulting in brothels and saloons springing up around Sycamore Grove. In 1900, a section of the bicycle tollway, the California Cycleway opened, designed to connect Pasadena to Los Angeles (although it never extended past Avenue 57). Highland Park's cycle-loving spirit continues with the Bike Oven, the Eastside Bike Club, the Arroyo Seco bike bath and the ArroyoFest Freeway Walk and Bike Ride, which in 2003 closed the 110 freeway to cars for one night. 

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Tres De Mayo-Pt.1

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, May 4, 2008 08:57pm | Post a Comment
On Saturday I woke up to sounds of Mariachi music and Aztec drumming. Turns out there was a Cinco De Mayo parade on my street. There was little notice other than a few no parking signs on Cypress Ave. the night before.

Danza Azteca on Cypress & Roseview

The Grand Marshal was an Elvis Impersonator

Bike Riders: The new people in the barrio wanted to be a part of the parade and to push their agenda
about getting people not to drive their cars and ride their bikes instead. They asked the people watching the parade to join them in a bike ride. Nobody did except the neighborhood loco who rides his bike all day cause he's got nothing better to do. Everyone in the neighborhood knows this guy is crazy, but nobody told them. We all just snickered.

Tamborazos in the back of a truck. A horse follows them.

Vaqueros (Cowboys)

I'm not too big on parades. I usually avoid them at all costs, but since it was right outside my door, I figured I'd check it out. The parade seemed a bit unorganized and thrown together last minute. However, it was cool to hang with my neighbors and scream out a few "Que Viva Mexico!"s. Once the Victory Outreach float came by, I figured it was time to go home. Born-again Christians with megaphones wasn't really my idea of a Cinco De Mayo celebration. Besides, I was doing laundry.


Save The Taco Trucks!

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, April 30, 2008 03:33pm | Post a Comment


Los Angeles has many problems to deal with: overdevelopment, racial tensions, a hideous education system, a corrupt police department, transportation problems and a housing slump, just to name a few. So who do you think the L.A. Board of Supervisors decides to pick on? Yes, you guessed it, the taco trucks. District 1 County Supervisor Gloria Molina, once a champion for the barrio, has passed new restrictions for the taco truck vendors that forces the trucks to move every hour or face possible jail time and a $1000.00 fine. Taco trucks employ many people. Most of them are family-run and their livelihood depends on those trucks. Once again, the city blames its problems on hard working people with little representation.

The people behind saveourtacotrucks.org have organized Taco Truck Night on May 1st. On that day, they encourage people to spend their money at their local taco truck and to raise awareness of the bill. Also on the site is a petition that you can sign in support of the taco trucks.

A taco truck to many is more that just a place to get tacos. It is a part of the community, a place to meet, gossip and pick up some food after a hard working day when you’re too tired to cook. If you don’t eat meat, most trucks can accommodate you if you are polite about it. Some of the best dishes I’ve had at a taco truck were of the non-meat variety. All you have to do is ask.

Behind this ruling are restaurants that blame the trucks for their lack of business. Having tried many Mexican restaurants all over the city, I feel that most restaurants should put the blame on their own menu rather than the taco trucks, especially in L.A. where people will pay a little more for a better product. It’s the same thing Amoeba experienced when it first opened. Many local record stores tried to blame their misfortunes on the presence of Amoeba without looking at themselves and the dump they called a record store. Yeah…I said it!

Anyways…go get some tacos tomorrow!

Heritage Day at the Heritage Square Museum

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 5, 2008 03:20pm | Post a Comment
This past Sunday at the Heritage Square Museum in Highland Park it was L.A. Heritage Day, which I checked out, accompanied by the always scintillating Ngoc Nguyen. The Heritage Square Museum is a "living museum" made up of some Victorian buildings saved from impending demolition that was begun in the 1960s. All the homes were moved from their foundations and transported to their current home in Highland Park. Some of the buildings are still pretty rundown and, as money comes in, are restored. My sister and I used to play a game on road-trips where we'd try to spot rundown houses with trees poking through the roofs and cry out, "That's your honeymoon house!"  The idea is that honeymooning in a run-down house would be rather humorously outrageous. Of us siblings, only my sister has been married so far and I don't think she did end up honeymooning in a dilapidated mansion. Anyway, our parents responded by creating the "Quiet Contest."


        One of the more colorful Victorian homes.                              A Victorian teenager posing in front of the chapel.

Because of fire code, so the story goes, all of the second (and third, in the case of the hexagonal house) stories of these fine buildings are off limits except to the volunteers. One of the costumed guides complained how silly that was since there is no danger of fire in the homes. However, another guide said that two of the original buildings burned down after being moved to Heritage Square. Probably some punk kids out for kicks, but who knows?


   A docent and I in my Zodiac shirt.       It's like a giant cable-knit sweater that someone keeps knitting and knitting and...

In addition to the Victorian homes, there's a church, a carriage house, a train station and some train cars. The museum has a myspace page and activist/actor George Takei is in their top 16. I was once on Olvera Street and I recognized GeorgeTakei's distinct, pleasant voice asking, "Should I stand here?" whilst posing next to a fake donkey for some tourists.

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