Amoeblog

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Altadena, The Community of the Deodars

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 17, 2012 11:18pm | Post a Comment
INTRODUCTION TO ALTADENA


When people hear the disyllabic sounds, “alta” and “dena,” I would wager that most of them think of the well-known City of Industry-based Alta Dena Dairy, which was started by the three, Missouri-born Stueve Brothers in Monrovia, California in 1945. Oddly, more than five minutes of internet research haven’t helped me figure out why they named their dairy after a fellow San Gabriel Mountains community located some miles west of their hometown. Nonetheless, I based my map's "typeface" on their logo.



For a community that's never bothered incorporating, Altadena seems to have a very strong sense of pride, place and community. The first time I think I visited Altadena involved walking there from my workplace in Pasadena. Although my journey involved little more than crossing a freeway, once I arrived I felt as if, proverbially speaking, I was no longer in Kansas.


CHARACTER AND CHARACTERIZATION OF ALTADENA

Undoubtedly part of Altadena's unique vibe is owed to its particular racial and ethnic demographics. The population of roughly 43,000 people is 40% white (mostly English and Lebanese), 27% Latino (mostly Mexican), 24% black, 6% Asian – making it noticably less Asian, and much more black than most of the San Gabriel Valley. Indeed, it feels very different from most of LA. Within the community the vibe varies greatly too. Laidback, working class West Altadena feeling worlds rather than miles away from wealthy, woodsy East Altadena, which convincingly enough (for some) stood in for Beverly Hills on the series Beverly Hills, 90210. The foothill neighborhoods swing between eye-searingly dull suburbs and rustic, bohemian and slightly creepy enclaves. 

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California Fool's Gold -- A San Gabriel Valley Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 24, 2011 06:33pm | Post a Comment
GABRIEL'S HORN DOES SOUND -- THE SAN GABRIEL VALLEY

Invariably when one speaks or hears of "The Valley," the valley in question is the San Fernando (despite the fact that there are at least six major and loads of minor valleys in Los Angeles County). For the same reasons that I'm mildly annoyed when people refer to "THE City" or "THE Bay," the notion of "THE Valley" smacks of ignorance at best and unpleasant small-mindedness at worst. This blog entry is an introduction to the San Gabriel Valley, that great and amazing expanse of suburbs, boomburbs, exurbs and enthoburbs (any "suburb" portmanteaus I've missed?) with surprisingly significant history and variety of cultures beneath the seemingly uniform surface of bandage-colored strip malls and homes. That being said, at the time of writing, the San Fernando Valley page on Facebook has 25,519 fans whereas the San Gabriel Valley page has a mere ten.


Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of the San Gabriel Valley


GEOGRAPHY

The San Gabriel Valley is bordered by the the Verdugo Hills and San Rafael Hills to the northwest; the San Gabriel Mountains (and Angeles Forest region) to the north; The Pomona Valley and Inland Empire to the east; the Puente Hills and San Jose Hills and, on the other side, Orange County to the south; SELACO to the south west; and The Eastside and NELA to the west.

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