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California Fool's Gold -- A Santa Monica Mountains primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 1, 2011 04:00pm | Post a Comment

WEST OF THE WESTSIDE -- THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS

The Santa Monica Mountains are a traverse mountain range that stretches from the Pacific Ocean 64 kilometers east to the flood plain where the LA River is fed by the Verdugo Wash. The southern side of the eastern end of the range is almost always referred to as the Hollywood Hills. The central portion lies within LA's westside and the foothills are home to some of LA's most affluent neighborhoods (e.g. Bel Air, Beverly Hills and Pacific Palisades). To the north, separated by the mountains, is the San Fernando Valley. Technically, the Channel Islands are also part of the range, although they're separated from the mainland by water.


Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of the Santa Monica Mountains

The western portion of the Santa Monica Mountains separates the Conejo Valley from Malibu and the neighboring communities that make up the Los Angeles district known as the Santa Monica Mountains area. The district borders Ventura County to the west and north, the San Fernando Valley to the northeast and the Westside to the east. 


The chaparral covering the region is home to mountain lions, steelheads, Southern Pacific Rattlesnakes, various kingsnakes, Gopher snakes, Garter snakes, Western fence lizards, bobcats, mule deer, golden eagles and other less glamorous creatures. The area around the shore is home to dolphins, octopi, sea gulls, crabs, anemones, mussels, sharks, cormorants, seals, pelicans, sea lions and whales. For thousands of years, the land was shared by the Tongva in the east and the Chumash. The Chumash called the area along the Pacific "Humaliwo," meaning "the surf sounds loudly," and Malibu derives its name from this. There is some evidence that the two sea-going peoples had contact with the Polynesians. The natives were later conquered and displaced by the Spanish. Later, the land became part of Mexico. After that, it was conquered by the US. Today it is home to six separate communities and a large, unincorporated region in the middle. 

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California Fool's Gold -- A Northwest Los Angeles County Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 4, 2011 03:30pm | Post a Comment
NORTHWEST PASSAGE -- NORTHWEST COUNTY


Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Northwest Los Angeles County
 
 

Mountainous Northwest Los Angeles County is dominated by the Angeles National Forest and boasts numerous reservoirs, wilderness, and winding, scenic roads. In the northern portion there's a series of small towns located around a series of sag ponds. The southern, San Fernando Valley-adjacent towns tend to be booming suburbs by contrast. For centuries, the dramatic landscape supported the Chumash, Kitanemuk and Tataviam nations. Today, most of it is still sparsely populated in comparison to other parts of Los Angeles County. The region is surrounded by affluent Ventura County to the west, the sprawling Central Valley to the north, the somewhat post-apocalyptic desertscape of the Antelope Valley to the northeast, the fairly pristine Angeles Forest to the southeast, and the famed San Fernando Valley to the south. The overall population is approximately 67% white, 21% Latino, 6% Asian and 3% black.

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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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