Amoeblog

California Fool's Gold Episode Guide

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 23, 2014 08:33pm | Post a Comment

I thought that it might be useful to publish an "episode guide" of my California Fool's Gold pieces here on the Amoeblog. I've also been invited to speak about them for a class on diversity in Los Angeles at Emerson College so this goes out to the students in Professor Oliver's class. 



Sonic Youth - "Eric's Trip" (off Daydream Nation)


If you're a fan of this sort of thing (or you're just temporarily mesmerized by the computer screen in front of you) you might also enjoy my column over at KCET called Block By Block in which I explore our vast Southland without the use of a car whether by foot, bike, bus, train, subway, ferry or otherwise. As with Eric's Blog, Block By Block also often feature my maps which I create as Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography


Wire - "Map Ref. 41°N 93°W" (off 154)
 
When I explore a new community, I usually rely upon the vox populi which is why anyone may vote for what communities they'd like to become the subject of future articles by clicking here for Los Angeles neighborhoodshere for Los Angeles County communities, and here for Orange County communities. Check back occasionally for new episodes -- next up, if all goes according to plan, is Westlake

 
Billy J. Kramer with the DakotasTrains And Boats And Planes (off Trains And Boats And Planes)
If the reader wishes, they may also read brief introductions to all of the communities in the poll which are organized by regional primers corresponding to the 22 Kingdoms of the Southland:

Angeles ForestThe Antelope ValleyThe Channel IslandsDowntown Los AngelesThe EastsideThe HarborHollywoodThe Mideast SideMidtownNorth Orange County, Northeast Los AngelesNorthwest CountyThe Pomona ValleyThe San Fernando ValleyThe San Gabriel ValleyThe Santa Monica MountainsThe South Bay 
South Los Angeles's EastsideSouth Los Angeles's WestsideSouth Orange CountySoutheast Los Angeles CountyThe Verdugos
, and The Westside 





 
R.E.M. - "Maps & Legends" (off Fables of the Reconstruction
 
Season 1 (2007)

Granada Hills
Montebello
Alhambra




Season 2 (2008)

Rosemead
San Marino
Edendale
Morningside Circle




Season 3 (2009)

Elysian Valley
Yucca Corridor
Cypress Park
Wilshire Park
The Arts District
Walnut
Canterbury Knolls
Little Osaka
Laurel Canyon




Season 4 (2010)

Longwood Highlands
Industry
Boyle Heights
Echo Park
Chinatown
Thai Town
Eagle Rock
Glendale
Claremont
Little Bangladesh
Koreatown
Rowland Heights
Silver Lake
Sherman Oaks
Burbank
Little Ethiopia
Santa Ana
East Los Angeles
Monterey Park
Highland Park
Fullerton
Skid Row
Costa Mesa
Los Feliz
Garden Grove
Mar Vista
Orange
Angeleno Heights




Season 5 (2011)

Arcadia
South Pasadena
Venice
Long Beach
Compton
Tustin
Fairfax
Historic Filipinotown
Huntington Beach
San Gabriel




Season 6 (2012)

Pasadena
Lincoln Heights
Mount Washington
Altadena




Season 7 (2013)

El Monte
Santa Catalina Island
Laguna Beach
East Pasadena
Culver City
San Clemente
Chesterfield Square
Happy Valley
Monterey Hills
City Terrace
Hillside Vilage




Season 8 (2014)

Hermon
University Hills
Garvanza
Rose Hill
North Hollywood
South Central
Watts
Little Seoul
Glassell Park 
Westlake
Atwater Village
Terminal Island
Little Italy (San Diego)




Season 9 (2015)

Franklin Hills
Anaheim
Victor Heights



 


 
 
Tom Waits - "In the Neighborhood" (off Swordfishtrombones)

*****


Follow Eric's Blog

 

California Fool's Gold -- A Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography map and a snapshot of Los Angeles

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 17, 2014 01:26pm | Post a Comment

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's hand-painted map of Los Angeles County communities and neighborhoods

Yesterday I finished painting a large map of Los Angeles County. On it I attempted to depict every Los Angeles County community and every Los Angeles neighborhood. It was also important to me to include the two Channel Islands that are part of Los Angeles and to depict them where they actually are in relation to the rest of the county (and not shrunken and stuffed into a box in the corner -- a fate with which Hawaii and Alaska are intimately familiar). 

I first started writing about exploring Los Angeles neighborhoods in October 2007. I began writing about Los Angeles County communities a month later. I expanded to Orange County in 2010, in defiance of ignorant protestations based on stereotypes which, as with those leveled against Los Angeles, have a increasingly little resemblance to reality. I tagged all of my pieces California Fool's Gold in homage to the late, great Huell Howser, a fellow immigrant from the Upper South and explorer of the real California. I'd love to be able to map and explore other countries, cities, and neighborhoods too though and there is literally nowhere that I won't go. Have easel, will travel.

Then again, if I never get to leave Southern California, I'll be OK; it's an endlessly fascinating and supremely diverse place. If you find yourself visiting here, may this map hopefully inspire you to not limit your adventures to the usual (no offense, Hollywood & Highland, the Hollywood Sign, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Rodeo Drive, the Sunset Strip or the Citadel Outlet Mall).

There are at least 13,000 years of human history here that you will hear nothing about if you take a guided bus tour of celebrity homes and just watch "reality" television. There are nearly ten million people in Los Angeles with no connection to the entertainment industry other than as consumers. There are 21 regions (kingdoms in my mind) in which 133 languages are spoken that are neither English nor Spanish. The only way to really get to know Los Angeles is to explore it. 

*****

Continue reading...

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring City Terrace

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 19, 2013 02:22pm | Post a Comment
BEEN UP TO CITY TERRACE TO SEE WHAT'S A-HAPPENING 

Welcome to City Terrace - East Los Angeles 

Last year I had a stint house-sitting in El Sereno and spent the better part of my stay exploring with a dog named Dooley that I was also charged with the care of. She and I mostly explored the greater El Sereno area, including Hillside Village and University Hills. This time I set about exploring more of the Los Angeles's Eastside -- and Dooley and I managed to unturn stones in the Eastside neighborhoods of Arroyo View EstatesEast Los AngelesEl SerenoGarvanza, Happy ValleyHermonHighland ParkLincoln HeightsMontecito HeightsMonterey HillsRose Hill, and on one warm morning, City Terrace.

Map-like Mural of City Terrace at Robert F Kennedy Elementary

*****

City Terrace is an Eastside neighborhood located within unincorporated East Los Angeles. Definitions of its borders vary but nearby are Monterey Park to the east; University Hills, El Sereno, and Hillside Village to the north; Boyle Heights to the west; and the rest of East Los Angeles to the south. The neighborhood is also situated in the Repetto Hills that stretch from the Arroyo Seco, Elysian Hills and San Rafael Hills in the northwest down to Whittier Narrows and the Rio Hondo in the east and form one of the borders of the San Gabriel Valley. Because of its hilly topography and long-dominant ethnicity, one of its nicknames is "The Mexican Alps." 


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Map of City Terrace


Like most of East Los Angeles, City Terrace is a mostly residential neighborhood. However, it's located four kilometers north of and across the 60 Freeway from busy Whittier Boulevard -- the main commercial center of East Los Angeles and therefore feels rather separate. The main commercial strip of City Terrace is City Terrace Drive. The other main streets: Gage, Hazard and Eastern Avenues, are all well-traveled but are lined primarily with homes. The decidedly relaxed nature of the neighborhood was at one point underscored by the echoes of a toddler methodically whacking a plastic bat on a balcony which echoed throughout the hills and seemed to provide the only sound within earshot. In fact, the most chaotic moment in the course of my exploration was a mini traffic jam created when a brood of chickens decided to do their scratching in the middle of Hazard.


EARLY HISTORY OF THE AREA

At least as early as 13,000 years ago people were living in Southern California. The ancestors of the Tongva arrived from the Sonoran Desert much later -- only about 3,500 years ago. After that they were the dominant people in the area for thousands of years. The hills in which City Terrace now lies then separated their villages of Yaangna to the west and Otsungna to the east. The Tongva reign ended shortly after Spaniard Gaspar de Portolà's overland expedition passed through the area in 1769, setting the stage for Spanish conquest. In 1771, the conquerors constructed Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, first in Whittier Narrows. In 1776 the mission was moved to its present location in San Gabriel, nine kilometers northeast of what's now City Terrace. A few years later, in 1781, El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles was founded about 6 kilometers to the west.

The area that became City Terrace was located on Mission lands just east the four Spanish leagues given to the pueblo but Spanish rule ended in 1821, when Mexico gained independence and subsequently secularized the church's holdings. Mexico's rule would prove even shorter than Spain's and ended in 1848 when California was conquered by the US. In 1850, California entered the union and Los Angeles incorporated as a city and neighboring Boyle Heights was one of the city's first suburbs. The area just east, on the other hand, would be dominated by oil extraction and agriculture for another half a century or so.


MODERN HISTORY OF EAST LOS ANGELES

Before 1917, "East Los Angeles" referred to the bustling suburb that became known as Lincoln Heights after a unanimous vote to change its name following the opening of its Abraham Lincoln High School. The "East Los Angeles" designation quickly vanished from maps and ultimately, I suppose, the public consciousness. In 1921, Belvedere Gardens became the first suburb in what's today known as East Los Angeles. As more suburbs popped up -- including Eastmont, Maravilla Park, Observation Heights, Occidental Heights, Palma Heights, Wellington Heights, and City Terrace -- they were increasingly lumped together under the collective "East Los Angeles" which came to stick to the new area by the 1930s.


WALTER LEIMERT

 

City Terrace was developed in the 1920s by Oakland native Walter H. Leimert, born to German parents in 1877. In 1902, when still a young man, he founded the Walter H. Leimert Company which in turn developed several transit-oriented developments in Oakland including Lakeshore Highlands and Oakmore Highlands. Leimert and his family relocated to Los Angeles in the early 1920s and he continued developing, first creating Bellhurst Park in Glendale. By then Los Angeles had expanded north into the San Fernando Valley, west to Santa Monica Bay, and south to San Pedro Bay. The newly-arrived Angeleno bet that Los Angeles would naturally next expand eastward and his next development, City Terrace, was thus planted less than a mile east of the city (which had expanded, it should be noted, slightly eastward with the annexation of Bairdstown and part of the Arroyo Seco Addition). 

In 1923 Leimert placed an advertorial piece titled "Los Angeles Pendulum Swings East" in the Los Angeles Times which the Leimert Company claimed that the only reason Los Angeles hadn't already expanded east was because of inadequate bridges over the Los Angeles River. In 1925, invitations to see City Terrace were sent out which promised only "moderate building restrictions" but "strict race restrictions" -- then, quite embarrassingly, entirely par for the course. Several streets: Fowler Street, Miller Avenue, Fishburn Avenue, Rogers Street, and Van Pelt Avenue, were named after investors Edward M. Fowler, John B. Miller, John E. Fishburn, R.I. Rogers, and Walter G. Van Pelt.

Leimert ultimately proved wrong about the city swinging east and more than a century later, the eastern border between Los Angeles's Boyle Heights neighborhood and unincorporated East Los Angeles hasn't budged an inch. Perhaps there was more to Los Angeles's direction of growth than rickety bridges -- namely the appeal of beachfront property and shipping ports. Leimert's next development, Leimert Park, seemed to concede to this reality and was placed in what was then Southwest Los Angeles.


Big house, small vocho

Although it remained unincorporated county land, there was significant residential construction in City Terrace. Along Woolwine Drive in particular, there are some beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival homes that were constructed in the 1930s -- and this is a style I'm not normally especially fond of. Although nowadays City Terrace is almost exclusively Latino (96% -- with roughly 1% Asian-American, 1% black, and 1% white minorities), this wasn't always the case.

In the beginning, most of the new suburb's homeowners were Jews -- often ones who owned businesses or had roots in nearby Brooklyn Heights -- a then fifty-year-old suburb which was home to the largest Jewish community west of the Mississippi River. Brooklyn Heights and the larger Boyle Heights communities were also then home to large numbers of Russians (both Jewish and Molokan), Mexicans, Irish, and Japanese.


Spanish Colonial Revival homes from the 1930s on Woolwine Drive


JAPANESE IN CITY TERRACE

Many Japanese came to California to fill the void in the labor force created by the 1882 passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act. After the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, many Japanese moved from Northern California to Southern California. In 1924 the Asian Exclusion Act broadened racial discrimination from the Chinese to all Asians. By then Japanese were already established in the area and Yamaizumi Miso Shoyu Seizo-sho was locally manufacturing chop suey sauce, koji (Aspergillus oryzae), and pickles at a facility on Fishburn Street. However, after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the US government forcibly relocated over 110,000 Japanese to concentration camps. After 1946, when the last of the camps was closed, a smaller number of Japanese-Americans returned to the Eastside -- in many cases into homes previously owned by the neighborhood's till-then-dominant Jews.


JEWS IN CITY TERRACE

The Jewish character of the neighborhood was dominant and between the neighborhoods of Boyle Heights, Brooklyn Heights, and City Terrace there were thirty synagogues. By 1940 City Terrace was almost exclusively Jewish. City Terrace was also home to City Terrace Folk Shul Minyan, a chapter of the Jewish People's Fraternal Order (JPFO-IWO), the Emma Lazarus Jewish Women's Club of City Terrace, and a Jewish Cultural Center in City Terrace -- demolished in the 1960s to accommodate the widening of the 10 Freeway. After the end of World War II in 1945, many of Los Angeles's Jews began migrating to areas newly available to them: chiefly Midtown, the Westside, and the San Fernando Valley.


MEXICANS IN CITY TERRACE

There have been Mexicans living in Los Angeles since the birth of Mexico, when Los Angeles was a pueblo within it. In the 1910s, their numbers in Los Angeles increased dramatically as many refugees fled the bloodshed of the Mexican Revolution. Among the first Mexican barrios established were SonoratownDogtown, the Flats of Boyle Heights, Alpine in Victor Heights, Happy Valley above Lincoln Heights, and Belvedere Gardens and Maravilla Park in East Los Angeles (or East Los came to often be shortened, especially by Latinos).

Between 1929 and 1939, in racist response to the Great Depression, the US government expelled millions of Americans of Mexican ancestry to Mexico as part of the so-called "Mexican Repatriation" (which I place in quotes because many of those deported were born in the US and had never even seen Mexico). The government had a change of heart after the internment of Japanese-Americans created a void in agricultural labor and Mexican-Americans were actively courted to return to the US.





By the 1950s, City Terrace was mostly home to upwardly mobile Chicanos such as Don Tosti, who a few years after buying a home in the neighborhood composed "Pachuco Boogie," the first million-selling single in the US released by a Latino artist (recorded by Don Ramon Sr. y su Orquesta). It was also where future mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (né Antonio Ramón Villar, Jr.), who was raised in City Terrace after moving there from Boyle Heights. In a symbolic reflection of the the demographic shift, in 1961 The Menorah Center (built in the 1920s) was transferred to a Catholic institution, The Salesians of Don Bosco -- today the Salesian Boys and Girls Club of Los Angeles.

Rev. Dr. Vernon McCombs and Ms. Katherine Higgins founded the Plaza Community Center in 1905 in order to offer leadership training, education and welfare assistance to those in need. In 1932, the non-profit opened a school explicitly focused on educating and training Mexican-Americans. The organization relocated to City Terrace in the mid-1950s and still operates as Plaza Community Services.


Federación de Clubes Zacatecanos del Sur de California and City Terrace Sheriff's Office


INCORPORATION EFFORTS

Residents of the all of the communities of East Los Angeles banded together as the East Los Angeles Residents Association and first attempted to incorporate as a city in 1960. Similar efforts followed and failed in 1963, 1971, and 2012. Then as now, attempts have failed that an incorporated East Los Angeles wouldn't be financially viable. The worry then as now is that the collection of mom-and-pop stores and residences couldn't possibly generate enough revenue to exist as a municipality.


LOS ANGELES COUNTY CIVIC COMPLEX

The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department is the largest sheriff department in the county, and the nation's fourth largest local law enforcement agency (after  the police departments of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles). The first substation was opened in unincorporated Florence, on South Los Angeles's Eastside. The second was opened in City Terrace. Both opened in 1924. The Florence station outgrew its location and moved nearby before closing in 1993.


 
Trailer for Volcano, a spiritual prequel to Crash, and featuring the County Emergency Operation Center in City Terrace



The City Terrace facility, however, grew into a massive complex shared by a prison, the County Fire Department headquarters, Los Angeles County Emergency Operation Center (as seen in 1997's Volcano), Internal Services, and a place known as "Laser Village." The sheriff's headquarters moved to City Terrace in 1993, relocating from the Hall of Justice in Downtown's Civic Center





Big Snoop rules the Eastide (of Long Beach, not Los Angeles) in this film, shot at Sybil Brand

In 1963 the Sheriff's Department opened two new jails -- Men's Central Jail in Downtown Los Angeles and the Sybil Brand Institute, a jail for female inmates, in City Terrace. Although designed to hold 900 inmates, at its peak it housed 2,800.

It was closed in 1997 (inmates were transferred to the then-new Twin Towers facilities) and it has since then been used primarily as a filming location for films and television series including America's Most Wanted, Arrest & Trial, Blow (2001), CSI, Desperate Housewives, The Eastsidaz (2005), Gangland, K-11 (2012), Legally Blonde (2001), A Love Denied (2011), Reno 911!: Miami (2007), and The X-Files.

Pine forest and "Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires" sign

Today the area is buffered by hillsides along Eastern Avenue landscaped with large pine trees which area a pleasant smell if not necessarily the most inviting air. I'm not sure if there's anything open to the public in the complex. I didn't venture up there to investigate.

Palm and Pine Forest beneath Emercency Services

CHICANISMO

Although the Mexican-American civil rights struggle began at least as early as the 1920s (the League of United Latin American Citizens formed in 1929), it wasn't until the 1960s that the Chicano Movement (or El Movimiento) got underway, with Los Angeles's Eastside occupying center stage. It was in 1966 that high school students formed the Young Citizens for Community Action (which quickly evolved into the Brown Berets), in part to protest the Vietnam War and police brutality. The East Los Angeles Walkouts (or Chicano Blowouts) --a series of protests of educational inequalities -- took place in 1968.


RAZA UNIDA PARTY

The Partido Nacional de La Raza Unida -- or Raza Unida Party (RUP) formed in Texas early in 1970. The Chicano political party successfully ran candidates in Texas elections before expanding into other states. The City Terrace chapter was especially active in California and one of the chapter's organizers, Raul Ruiz, ran as a candidate for the 48th Assembly District in 1971. Ruiz was also one of the editors of a local Chicano newspaper established a few years earlier (1967) in City Terrace, La Raza.


CITY TERRACE ARTS


City Terrace is saturated with art. There's a great deal of religious art depicting Biblical characters. In some ways, although their representations often look more Nordic than Semitic, these thousands of paintings and figurines maintaining the neighborhood's old Jewish character. 

Christ on a cross mural and shadow

Sam the Olympic Eagle and Olympic Athletes mural (from the Los Angeles Olympics of 1984)

There are also these leafy vine murals that cover numerous walls, garage doors, alleyways throughout the area. It's my understanding that they are designed to discourage placas and tags, which become difficult to decipher amongst the painted branches and foliage. 


Leafy vine mural and Dooley (selfie by Dooley)


There are paintings on the exterior walls of markets, depicting cleaning products and junk food sold inside. There's also graffiti and -- if your definition of art extends far enough -- tags and placas all over the place. The most celebrated art in the area are the murals painted by well known Chicano arts collectives like Los Four and Self Help as well as some local artists and organizations.


City Terrace Library (and to the right, Mercado Hidalgo)

In 1969, City Terrace resident David Rivas Botello co-founded Goez Art Studio with Jose-Luis Gonzalez and Juan Gonzalez. Botello went on to co-found Los Dos Streetscapers with Wayne Alaniz Healy in 1975. With the addition of Charles Solares, Fabian Debora, George Yepes, Paul Botello, Ricardo Duffy, Rich Raya, and Rudy Calderon they renamed themselves East Los Streetscapers. Goez Studios' Jose Luis Gonzalez created the ceramic mural, Ofrenda Maya 1, in 1978 at City Terrace Branch Library.

 
Two Herrón murals (source: LA Eastside and unknown)

Muralist Willie Herrón III was born in 1951 in a church in City Terrace to parents who lived in Pico-Rivera but largely raised by grandparents and later his mother in various neighborhoods of East Los Angeles. In 1972, Herrón formed an artists collective called Asco with fellow artists Gronk (ne Glugio Nicandro), Harry Gamboa, Jr., and Patssi Valdez, all of whom attended Garfield Senior High School together. Herrón painted a mural, Quetzalcoatl-Plumed Serpent, on the back of Mercado Hidalgo. Nearby, in the alley behind City Terrace Drive connecting Miller Avenue and Carmelita Avenue he painted The Wall that Crack'd Open on the wall of a business owned by his uncle. His La Doliente de Hidalgo was added to another of Mercado Hidalgo's walls in 1976. 


City Terrace Elementary

George Yepes was born in 1955 and raised in City Terrace. In 1992 he founded Academia de Arte Yepes, the first free mural academy for young painters in Los Angeles. From 1979 till 1985 he was a member of East Los Streetscapers. One of his most widely-seen pieces was the cover art for Los Lobos' 1988 album, La Pistola y El Corazón. Yepes's 1994 mural, Los Niños del Este Los Angeles, graces one of the walls of City Terrace Elementary.


St. Lucy's and El Tepeyac de Los Angeles mural

Yepes's mural, El Tepeyac de Los Angeles, was completed in 1995 and adorns the front of St. Lucy's Catholic Church.


Coyolxauhqui Plaza replica of the Coyolxauhqui Stone

Coyolxauhqui Plaza features an exact replica of the Coyolxauqui stone, sculpted circa 1472 and 1479, during the reign of Axayacatl. Coyolxauhqui Plaza is the moon goddess in the Mexica religion whose name in Nahuatl translates to something like "ornate bells." I couldn't find any information about when this replica was installed or who created it, but suffice to say it was almost certainly after the stone's rediscovery in Mexico City in 1978.


GANGS OF CITY TERRACE

The location of Willie Herrón's mural, the Wall That Crack'd Open, was chosen because it was near the site where the artist's then 15-year-old brother was nearly stabbed to death in an assault by members of Big Hazard -- a Boyle Heights gang whose territory includes the north-of-the-10 section of East Los Angeles. Herrón's previous mural, Quetzalcoatl-Plumed Serpent, had been dedicated to Geraghty Loma, one of the City Terrace's gangs, and the artist invited gang members to contribute their placas into its design.

Latino street gangs have on the Eastside at least as early as the 1930s, the era of the zoot-suited pachucos. The Vietnam era saw the dawn of the stoner era, and groups (some pre-dating the era) like the City Terrace Rifa, Geraghty Loma, Hicks Street, Lott Stoners and their many clikas were organized primarily around partying, listening to hard rock, and getting stoned (albeit not just on weed but pills and PCP). By the 1980s, many stoner groups either morphed into or were absorbed by the cholo gangs that came to characterize that more violent era. However, despite the mainstream media's sensationalization and implication that nearly every Eastsider was in a gang, by the estimates of some community leaders, fewer than 10% of boys were ever associated with gangs even back then. 


BACKYARD PARTY SCENE

Perhaps far more popular than the gang scene but much less-documented was the Backyard Party Scene, which flourished throughout the Eastside in the late 1970s and '80s. (Click here to read a an account by Gerard Meraz, a former DJ with Highland Park's Wild Boyz crew). Often finding themselves shunned by the Anglo-dominated Hollywood punk scene (and their venues), Eastside Punk groups often played in the backyards of Eastside homes (and the nearby venue, Vex). One of the local bands, Los Illegals, featured muralist Willie Herrón as well as Jesus “Xiuy” Velo, Bill Reyes, and brothers Manuel and Tony Valdez.


 
Los Illegales performing "We Don't Need a Tan"

In the late '80s, Party Crews and daytime Ditch Parties offered alternatives to gangs as well as school and sobriety. In the end, in the early 1990s, violence and media sensationalism both crept into that scene and it seems to have moved out of the spotlight. However, there's still a Backyard Scene. Here's an article from the LA Weekly.


Fairmount Terrace - six story senior residences constructed in 1979 and the tallest buildings in the neighborhood


CITY TERRACE TODAY

It's interesting to me that of all the combined barrios of East Los Angeles, City Terrace seems to maintain a distinct semiautonomy. Being part of Los Angeles County, there are of course none of the blue LA DOT neighborhood signs that one sees around the city. On the street signs, above the names of the streets it simply says "East Los Angeles." The LA Times' Mapping LA project doesn't show its borders.


KTLA covering a shooting in City Terrace

Nonetheless, on local news it seems that traffic congestion or crimes committed there are almost always identified as taking place not just in East Los Angeles, but in City Terrace specifically. If similar incidents take place anywhere else in East Los Angeles, I've never seen the neighborhood more specifically identified. The census doesn't seem to differentiate the neighborhood from the rest of East Los Angeles either but the demographics seemed, from my limited experience, to be similar to those of East Los Angeles as a whole: 97% Latino (mostly Mexican and Salvadoran), 2% Anglo (mostly Italian), 1% Native American, 1% Asian, and less than 1% black.

Although not counted by the census, being in the Eastside, City Terrace is not surprisingly home to a lot of seemingly miserable, angry dogs so walking with one through the neighborhood can result in some raised hackles on both sides of the fence. The people of City Terrace that I interacted with were more friendly on the whole than their canine companions and I was stopped by both a giddy little girl in a stroller and a blunt-smoking veterano who both just wanted to give Dooley a rub. Parts of the neighborhood's hilly terrain are quite steep and Walkscore's map shows City Terrace to be the least walkable part of East Los Angeles but nearly everything that would interest a casual explorer or visitor is located near easily walkable of bikeable City Terrace Drive, which is also served by public transit.


GETTING THERE/STAYING THERE

There are several public transit options for would-be tourists to City Terrace. LA DOT's DASH El Sereno/City Terrace and Boyle Heights lines both serve the area. Metro's 70, 71, 256, and 665 bus lines traverse the area as well. The Gold Line has stops located a moderate distance south of the neighborhood. The Silver Line/El Monte Busway and Metrolink's San Bernardino Line stop nearer to the neighborhood, just across the 10 Freeway at Cal State LA Station. Locally, the City Terrace/ELAC line of East Los Angeles's El Sol service also serves the area.


View from atop City Terrace

The only lodging in the area seems to be the Vista Motel, which has the fact that it's the only lodging in the neighborhood working in its favor. However, according to its website, its main selling point seems to be that it's located twenty minutes from Long Beach and 35 from LAX.


CITY TERRACE PARKS

City Terrace Park Swimming Pool

One of City Terrace's main attractions, albeit probably more for residents than visitors, is City Terrace Park. A fairly small park was first developed there by WPA crews back in 1933. In 1957, soil removed during the construction of Los Angeles's Civic Center was transported there, used to fill a ravine, and triple the park's size. There's a basketball court, a community room, a computer center, a gymnasium, a playground, a swimming pool, tennis courts and a field. The west wall of the gym is decorated by a mural painted by Paul Bortello (of East Los Streetscapers) and neighborhood kids in 2000 called Inner Resources.

City Terrace Park and the Inner Resources mural
City Terrace Park and the Inner Resources mural


CITY TERRACE EATS


Lonchera parking lot

Probably an even greater draw to East Los Angeles than the murals are the restaurants, which feature some of the best Mexican food in the city. City Terrace, even being a small neighborhood, is home to surprisingly few of East Los Angeles's celebrated eateries but there is Alvarez Bakery, El Guarachito (not to be confused with El Huarachito in Lincoln Heights), Juanito's Tamales, Negrete's Ice Cream, and Raspados Zacatecas. If you find yourself in Fairmount Terrace, there's a cafeteria there listed on Foursquare. If you're up in the county complex there's a Lunch Stop -- familiar to anyone whose dined in a government facility in the area -- and much better than you'd rightfully expect. 


King's Market Liquor with it's depiction of the Mexica Sun Stone

Linda Market with paintings of products for sale inside

Apparently most people in City Terrace must dine elsewhere, hit up loncheras, or dine in. If you're up for doing your own cooking there are far more neighborhood markets (some little more than liquor or convenience stores) than restaurants including Amigos Market, Diane's Market, East LA Market #3, Eva's Liquor Store, Family Market, Fauzia Market, Floral Market, Garcia's Meat Market, Guadalupana Carniceria, King's Market Liquor, Linda MarketLittle Super Market, Mercado Hidalgo, and Sportsman Liquor Store. Much of the neighborhood's litter seems to emanate from these establishments in the form of small chip bags. However, whereas most of my Eastside neighborhood explorations were dominated by evidence of consumption of various flavors of Cheetos, in City Terrace, Tapatío-flavored Doritos and Ruffles seemed to predominate. Tapatío, for those unfamiliar, is an American hot sauce manufactured in nearby Vernon that many incorrectly assume to be Mexican.


Dolores Canning on Eastern Avenue

City Terrace's most famous culinary export is probably Dolores Canning. Dolores Canning's origins stretch back to 1954, when Basilio Muñoz formed the company as a distributor of cow and pig products. They introduced the Dolores Chili Brick in 1973. They also produced chili sauce, pickled pork products and menudo. I assumed that the company logo was a depiction of Dolores del Río, a glamorous Mexican matinee idol from the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema, but in fact it depicts Dolores Muñoz, the late Basilio's wife who passed away in 2008 and whose menudo recipe the company's canned version is based upon.


CITY TERRACE CELLULOID


Aside from the aforementioned films shot in part or in whole at Sybil Brand, I couldn't find any films either set or filmed in City Terrace. It was, however, the birthplace of Good Morning America's long-serving film critic Joel Siegel, who wrote about his childhood and the concurrent demographic shifts of City Terrace in his book, Lessons for Dylan: On Life, Love, the Movies, and Me.


The 2 Line in front of the City Terrace Cinema in 1963 (source: Pacific Electric Railway Historical Society)


Where St. Lucy's has stood since 1970, formerly stood the City Terrace Cinema, also known as the Terrace Theatre. Although I couldn't find a construction date or architect, the old movie theater existed at least as early as the late 1940s and seated 811 patrons. It also included a glass-enclosed balcony for mothers with crying children.

OTHER STUFF TO DO

A reader has brought to my attention a private museum located in City Terrace (on City Terrace Drive) called The Institute for the Scientific Study of Human and Non-Human Phenomena. I'm intrigued and will try to check it out!


If you'd like to read more about City Terrace, look for Beyond Alliances: The Jewish Role in Reshaping the Racial Landscape of Southern California edited by George J. SanchezCity Terrace Field Manual bySesshu FosterMexican American Mojo: Popular Music, Dance, and Urban Culture in Los Angeles, 1935-1968 by Anthony MacíasEast Los Angeles: History of a Barrio by Ricardo Romo, and The history of La Raza newspaper and magazine, and its role in the Chicano community from 1967 to 1977by Francisco Manuel Andrade. 

As always, I welcome corrections, additions for consideration, personal accounts, pictures you'd like to share (I'll link to you or your website), &c. Just let me know in the comments!

*****
To vote for other Los Angeles County communities  to be the subject of future blog entries, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, vote here. To vote for Orange County communities and neighborhoods, vote here


*****


Follow Eric's Blog and check out more episodes of California Fool's Gold

California Fool's Gold -- A Channel Islands Primer

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 20, 2013 02:49pm | Post a Comment
WHO WOULD FLOAT ME TO MY ISLAND DREAM? -- THE CHANNEL ISLANDS

Foggy Day (Image credit: Lee Shurie for California Kayak Friends)

On planet Earth there are at least two archipelagos known as “The Channel Islands.” Frankly, I'd be somewhat surprised if there aren't more. One is located in an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates France and the UK known in English as “The English Channel” or simply “The Channel.” It's traversed (or is it subversed) by the Chunnel. Its eight Channel Islands are home to about 168,000.



The other Channel Islands are in an arm of the Pacific Ocean called the Santa Barbara Channel. Being located in California they are are often distinguished from their Atlantic counterparts by their being referred to as the Channel Islands of California. There are also eight islands in this archipelago although they’re only home to about 4,000 people. In some ways they have more in common with another archipelago, the Galapagos Islands of South America. Both developed in relative isolation which allowed for an independent evolutionary processes. In the Channel Islands' case, that process led to the development of at least 145 endemic species.

Last year my New Year’s resolution was to visit one or more of these islands. As with moth New Year's resolutions, I failed to meet it (just remembering it distinguishes it from most that I've made in the past). I changed my resolution with less than a month left of 2012 to the easier task of learning how to tie a bow tie in time for New Year’s Eve. This year, on my birthday, I visited Santa Catalina, which although often treated as somehow distinct from the Channel Islands, is in fact one of them. Here's hoping (but not resolving) that I visit more soon.


GETTING THERE AND BACK

Tomol Crossing Sunrise (Image credit: Robert Schwemmer for Channel Islands Chumash)

I’ve wanted to visit the Channel Islands ever since learning of their existence -- probably around the time that my mother read Island of the Blue Dolphins to me. Whereas most of Los Angeles County (two of the Channel Islands are part of it) and Southern California are easily accessible by a variety of means including pubic and private transit, the Channel Islands are a bit more tricky (unless you have readily have in your possession a boat, helicopter, hovercraft, dirigible or other craft). Most people visit the islands via commercial and private boats, airplanes, or helicopters.


THE NORTH AND SOUTH

The California Channel Islands are generally divided into two groups, the Northern Group (consisting of Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Cruz, and Santa Rosa) and the Southern Group (consisting of San Clemente, San Nicolas, Santa Barbara, and Santa Catalina). They are also split among the jurisdictions of three bailiwicks – er, counties: Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. Their combined landmass is 896 square kilometers. Rather sadly, in most maps of those counties, these magnificent gems are either removed entirely or confined to disconnected corner boxes disconnected at reduced scale in a similar fashion to Alaska and Hawaii on maps of the USA.


PRE-HUMAN HISTORY

Channel Islands Pygmy Mammoth sculpture at the California History Museum (Credit: Rhino Design Studio)

During the last ice age, because of lower sea levels, the four northernmost islands were conjoined into a single island separated from the mainland by a mere 8 kilometers. Archaeologists have discovered the remains of flightless geese, giant mice, and pygmy mammoths. The Channel Island Fox is believed to have rafted to the northern islands as early as 16,000 years ago and unlike the previous examples, isn't extinct. The foxes were likely brought to the southern islands by Native Americans, who arrived perhaps a couple of thousand years later.


THE CHUMASH ERA

Arlington Springs Bones (Image credit: Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History)

In 1960, several bones from a 13,000 year-old skeleton were discovered and nicknamed the Arlington Springs Man (and sometimes the Arlington Springs Woman due to questions about their owner's sex). As early as 11,000 years ago a band of Chumash settled in the northern Channel Islands and possibly the southern as well. The Chumash also traditionally made their home coastal plain between Morro Bay and Malibu (the name of which is derived from the Chumash name Humaliwo meaning “the surf sounds loudly”). The island-dwelling Chumash were known to the mainland Chumash as the Michhumash or “the makers of shell bead money.”


THE TOMOL

Chumash tomol (Image source: Chumash Maritime Association)

Along with the Mapuche in Chile, the Chumash were one of the only Native Americans nations known to possess deep ocean-faring boats, which they called tomol. Tomol are plank canoes that were up to 30 feet in length and carried about ten people. A tomol-building Chumash organization known as The Brotherhood of the Tomol disbanded in 1834. A newer group of tomol-makers formed in 1976 and their craft, the ‘Elye’wun, which made its first trip to Santa Cruz Island in 2001.



Some have theorized that both the Chumash and Mapuche learned the craftt of building plank canoes from the Austronesian people who colonized most of the Pacific. In the Western Hemisphere, sewn plank canoes are known only in the Pacific Islands, Chile, and the Channel Islands. Pacific Islanders reached both Hawaii and Rapa Nui from, most likely, the Marquesas as early as 300 CE. Around the same time, similar technology appeared in the Americas.

The evidence is intriguing but hardly incontrovertible. That theory may well bear out but I am always suspicious of how seemingly whenever ancient Native Americans have shown high levels of technological sophistication, someone will invariably suggest that everyone from Africans, to Europeans, to Melanesians, to Pacific Islanders must've had a hand in it. Of course then there are the nutty (and even more insulting) theories perpetuated by the always ridiculous History Channel that people traveled across the galaxy to meddle in human history. On the other hand, our improving understanding of DNA in recent years has radically challenged perceptions about the Pre-Columbian Era, suggesting that it was far more interconnected than previously thought.


THE TONGVA ERA

Maritime Village (Image source: Keepers of Indigenous Ways)

The Tongva (also sometimes referred to as Kizh) people arrived from the Sonoran Desert to the Los Angeles Basin sometime in the vicinity of 7,000 BCE years ago. They almost certainly learned to make plank boats from the Chumash, which they called ti’at, and used them to settle the southern islands. Evidence suggests that the Tongva may’ve wrested control of the islands from the Chumash through violence, as there is evidence on San Clemente and San Nicolas Islands of several deadly, ancient battles.


SPANISH ERA

In 1542, the first Spaniard, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, passed by California and claimed the islands for Spain. In 1602 another Spanish explorer, Sebastián Vizcaíno, again “discovered” the islands. After that, from 1602 till 1769, there was no recorded contact between the Spanish and Native Channel Islanders. Despite their claim on them, Spanish did little to prevent other nations from exploiting the islands and in modern times Aleuts, Americans, Chinese, and Russians all freely pursued their interests on them, in the process greatly reducing the Native populations with both disease and killing. In the 19th Century, the Spanish forcibly relocate the remaining Chumash and Tongva people to the mainland Missions, which were essentially labor camps.



Though many of the captured Natives died, it would be wrong to assume that both people are extinct. Today there are several thousand people who identify as Chumash . The Santa Ynez Band is federally recognized Chumash tribe. There are other bands who have yet to gain federal recognition but who, in several cases, are attempting to. The first Chumash dictionary was published in 2008 and there is a documentary available titled 6 Generations: A Chumash Family History




There are also somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,700 Tongva alive today but no Tongva band has thus far been granted federal recognition. There is a subsection of Amoeba's Documentary section called Native America which is where one can find documentaries about indigenous people of the Americas from Chile's Diego Ramírez Islands in the south to Kaffeklubben Island, Greenland in the north.


EARLY AMERICAN ERA

Catalina Civil War Barracks (Image: White, William Sanford &Steven Kern Tice's Santa Catalina Island)

In 1848, the US defeated Mexico (who'd gained independence from Spain in 1821) and conquered all of California, including of course the Channel Islands. For a century, the islands were used primarily for ranching and hunting, resulting in the extinction of some species and widespread environmental devastation. Santa Catalina began to be developed as a tourist destination in the 1890s but during World War II, all of the Channel Islands were placed under the control of the US military. Military installations were built on several islands and San Miguel was used as a bombing range.


CHANNEL ISLANDS BECOME NATIONAL PARKS

Channel Islands National Park (Image source: QT Luong)

It was only in 1980 that Channel Islands National Park was designated in the northern islands. It wasn’t until 1986 that most came into the ownership of the National Park system and the long road to recovery of the islands began.


BIODIVERSITY

 
Channel Islands Slender Salamander and Island Fox (images: Alice Abela and Callie Bowdish)

Despite years of devastation, the Channel Islands remain one of the richest marine biospheres in the world and through conservation efforts, there is considerable environmental recovery underway. DDT use in the 1950s resulted in the local extinction of Bald Eagles by the 1960s but they’ve since been reintroduced. Still extant unique species include the shy Storm-petrel, Channel Islands Slender Salamander, Channel Islands Spotted Skunk, Island fence lizard, Island Fox, Island Night Lizard, Island Scrub Jay, San Clemente loggerhead shrike, San Clemente sage sparrow, and Santa Cruz sheep. Unquire flora include a subspecies of Torrey Pine, the Channel Island Oak, and the Island Tree mallow.

In popular culture, the Channel Islands as a group have surprisingly little presence (considering what a treasure they are). A band from Chico, The Mother Hips, have a song called "Channel Island Girl" which may or may not refer to the California Channel Islands. If there are other books, movies, games or songs about the islands, let me know. Works about or relevant to specific islands are mentioned below in the corresponding sections about the islands.

*****

SANTA CRUZ ISLAND

Potato Harbor at Santa Cruz Island

At 250 square kilometers, Santa Cruz Island is not only the largest of the islands in the chain but the largest island in all of California. It was formerly the largest privately owned island off the continental US. It contains two mountain ranges in which the highest peak is the 740 meter tall Devils Peak. There are permanently flowing springs and streams.

Map of Santa Cruz Island

Remains of ten Chumash villages have been located on the island, which is believed to have at one time supported a population of roughly 1,200. The largest known village, Swaxil, was located near the site of Scorpion Ranch. Cabrillo observed six villages and named the island San Lucas. The Chumash already had a name for the island, Limuw, which means something like “place in the sea.” Like Cabrillo, Vizcaíno apparently didn't ask the indigenous inhabitants and labeled it on his map the Isla de Gente Barbuda or, the Island of Bearded People. Legend tells of a Spanish priest's long lost staff that was presented to Gaspar de Portolà de Rovira during his 1769 expedition. It was supposedly that event which led to the island once again being renamed, this time Santa Cruz. The last of the Chumash were removed in 1822 by Mexico, the year after achieving independence. Mexico then turned it into a small penal colony for a short time. In 1839 it was granted to Captain Andrés Castillero.

Scorpion Ranch (Image source: Shannon Technologies)

In 1855, during Castillero’s stewardship, an English physician named James B. Shaw was allowed to build a ranch home and start a Merino sheep operation. In 1857 the island was sold to William Barron and by 1864, some 24,000 sheep grazed the island. By the 1880s, a Frenchman named Justinian Claire acquired the island. In 1937 his family sold most of the island to oilman Edwin Stanton but continued to maintain a sheep ranch on the island's east end. Stanton, for his part, shifted the old ranch’s focus to beef production.

Painted Cave (Image source: Santa Barbara Independent)

In 1980 the US Government designated all four northern islands a National Park. Nonetheless, descendants of Claire were allowed to continue ranching until 1984, at which time the ranch was leased to a hunting organization who hunted feral pigs and the remaining sheep. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the remaining privately-owned land was finally purchased from Claire’s descendants and the process of rehabilitation could begin.Today the responsibility of protecting and preserving of Santa Cruz Island is divided between The Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service.

(Image source: Wander Melon)

There are archaeological sites from several periods of the island's history including Chumash shell middens and barns, blacksmiths, a chapel, homes and saddle shops from the ranch era. The island also has three airstrips: Unknown Airstrip, Christy Airstrip, and Santa Cruz Island Airport.


SANTA ROSA ISLAND 


Santa Rosa Island (Image credit: Callie Bowdish)

Santa Rosa Island is, at 215 square kilometers, the second largest of the Channel Islands although it's home to just two residents. The highest point is the 484 meter tall Vail Peak on Soledad Mountain. The Chumash called it Wimat, which refers to the redwood logs that floated ashore from coastal forests to the north and which were used to construct the tomol. So far the remains of eight villages have been discovered. 



In 1843, during the Mexican period, ownership of the island was granted to brothers José Antonio and Carlos Antonio Carrillo. It remained in their family until 1862, when the island was purchased by T. Wallace More and who established a ranch. The More family sold the island to Walter L. Vail and J.W. Vickers in 1902, who continued ranching and operated a private hunting reserve. It was purchased in 1986 to be included within the Channel Islands National Park.

Water Canyon Beach (Image credit: National Park Service)

Santa Rosa's landscape is characterized by rolling hills, canyons, beaches and a coastal lagoon. It’s home to at least six plant varieties found nowhere else, including a subspecies of Torrey Pine, a remnant of a once large Pleistocene forest.

Image credit: Colleen at Dave's Travel Corner

As with Santa Cruz Island there remain relics of the previous inhabitants from different periods in the form of ruins of fishing camps, ranch buildings, and military installations. A year round charter flight service is available from Camarillo Airport for visitors to Santa Rosa Island. 


SANTA CATALINA ISLAND

Catalina Island sunset

Santa Catalina Island, usually simply referred to as Catalina, is 194 square kilometers in area. Its tallest point is 648 meter high Mount Orizaba. Its population comprises 99.8% that of the combined islands. Unlike the other four southern islands, no signs of pre-Tongva use have thus far been discovered. The band of Tongva who formerly made it home called the island Pimu'gna (“place of the Pimu”) and themselves Pimugnans or Pimuvit. Their largest villages were located near the present day sites of Avalon, Emerald Bay, and Shark Harbor.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Santa Catalina Island 

Upon visiting in 1542, Cabrillo, named the island San Salvador. In 1602, Vizcaíno "discovered" it on the Eve of Saint Catherine’s Day and thus renamed it Santa Catalina Island. Mexico granted the island to Thomas M. Robbins in 1846. In 1850 Robbins sold the island to José María Covarrubias who in 1853 sold it to Albert Packard who in turn sold it to James Lick.



After the end of the Civil War, real estate developer George Shatto was the first to capitalize on the island’s potential as a tourist destination and built the island’s first hotel, Hotel Metropole, as well as a pier. His sister-in-law, Etta Whitney, came up with the name Avalon for the resort, inspired by Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem “Idylls of the King.” Shatto soon defaulted on his loan and ownership returned to the Lick estate.

Catalina Island Airport in the Sky

The Santa Catalina Island Company was established by the sons of Phineas Banning in 1891 with the intention of further developing the island as a resort. In addition to promoting Avalon, the Banning brothers developed inland roads for stagecoach tours and to access hunting lodges. They also built homes for themselves at Descanso Canyon and in what’s now Two Harbors. Their efforts were majorly set back when a fire destroyed most of Avalon on 29 November, 1915. In 1919 the brothers were forced to sell shares of their company.


After visiting the island with his family, William Wrigley, Jr. purchased most of the island’s shares and thus gained controlling interest in the Santa Catalina Island Company. To drum up publicity, Wrigley’s Chicago Cubs began using the island for spring training in 1921 and stayed at the Hotel St. Catherine in Descanso Bay. Wrigley built the iconic Catalina Casino in 1929. In the 1920s and ‘30s it was a popular getaway for movie stars and other celebrities. Today, 90% of Catalina's residents live in Avalon. There are five native land mammals on the island -- a subspecies of California Ground Squirrel, the Santa Catalina Island Harvest Mouse, the Santa Catalina Island Deer Mouse, the Ornate Shrew, and the Island Fox. In addition to the fox, the most recognizable fauna icon of the island is the American Bison, introduced in 1924 for a film, The Vanishing American.

Interior of Catalina Jet (boat)

Santa Catalina is easily accessed by use of the Catalina Express. Passenger ferries depart from Dana Point, Long Beach, Marina del Rey, Newport Beach, and San Pedro. Tickets for the boat aren't cheap... except on your birthday, when they're free! Helicopters also connect Long Beach and San Pedro to the island.

Claressa Avenue in Avalon
Santa Catalina was sung about in the song "26 Miles," by The Four Preps -- which is referenced in the title of this piece. Additionally, it’s been mentioned or referenced in songs including Harry Carroll and Harold Atteridge's "By the Beautiful Sea" (1914), Al Jolson and Vincent Rose's "Avalon" (1920), Nacio Herb Brown and Grant Clarke's "Avalon Town" (1928), Carrie Jacobs-Bond's "California" (1929), Cliff Friend and Con Conrad's "California" (1930), Harold Spina's "Santa Catalina" (1946), Gorden Vanderburg's "Catalina Honeymoon" (1953), The Descendents’ “Catalina" (1982), and Modern Skirts’ “Pasadena” (2005). Every year the island hosts the Catalina Island Jazztrax Festival. It was also the recording site of John Tesh: The Avalon Concert (1997). 

To read my account of visiting Santa Catalina, click here.


SAN CLEMENTE ISLAND 


San Clemente (Image source: The Wanderling)

San Clemente Island is 147 square kilometers in area. Its highest peak is the 599 meter high Vista Point. Though officially uninhabited, at any point there are about 300 Navy personnel stationed at the island's military base.

Image source: Neil Kramer

The Island was likely first inhabited by the Chumash, whose skeletons might be among those discovered at the ancient battle sites. The island was known as Kiingkenga by the Tonva and included several villages including Guinguina and Kinkipar.



In 1542 Cabrillo renamed it Victoria. Since Vizcaíno spotted it on the Eve of Saint Clement’s Day in 1602, he re-named it San Clemente Island. The city of San Clemente in South Orange County is named after the island. Salvador Ramirez likely introduced goats to the island from Catalina in 1875. The navy acquired the island in 1934. By 1972 there were about 11,000 feral goats wreaking devastation on the island's ecosystem and in 1980 the Navy announced their intention of terminating the remaining 4,000 or so with extreme prejudice. Horrified, the Fund for Animals intervened and captured and relocated them to the mainland and the San Clemente Goat is now recognized as a distinct breed. There’s even a San Clemente Island Goat Association.

San Clemente Goats (Image source: SVF Foundation)

The island remains home to the endangered the San Clemente Island Loggerhead Shrike and the San Clemente Island Fox.


SAN NICOLAS ISLAND 


San Nicolas Island (Image credit: NOAA
 Habitat Conservation)

San Nicolas Island is 59 square kilometers. The Chumash called the inhabitants of the island Niminocotch. It was also the apparent site of deadly battles. Its highest point is an unnamed, 276 meter peak. As with San Clemente, it’s currently under the control of the US Navy who maintain a permanent presence of about 200 military and civilian personnel on the base. It’s the most remote of the islands, located about 119 kilometers from the mainland.




The island was renamed for Saint Nicholas after Vizcaíno sited it on Saint Nicholas Day in 1602. The Native population were re-named the Nicoleños by the Spanish. After a series of deadly conflicts with Aleut hunters, the padres of the nearby missions relocated them in 1835 to the mainland, where they all quickly died from diseases to which they had no immunity. One from the inhabitants of the village Ghalas-at was left behind and lived alone for eighteen years after the evacuation until she was discovered by Captain George Nidever and his crew in 1853 and taken to Santa Barbara. There she died seven weeks later and her story was the basis for O’Dell’s 1960 book Island of the Blue Dolphins. The book was the basis for the 1964 live action film of the same name directed by James P. Clark (The Sad Horse, A Dog of Flanders, Misty, Flipper, and My Side of the Mountain) which, of course, stars a white in Redface doing a weird sort of English. San Nicolas Island was also the setting of its less-known sequel, Zia. More obscurely, it was the setting for the 1994 computer game, Rise of the Triad: Dark War and was Arius’s Island in the film, Commando (1985). 



The island was grazed by sheep until their removal in 1943. Another threat to the ecosystem came when Navy officers brought cats that quickly established a feral population. Beginning in 2009 a group of organizations began relocating the cats to a sanctuary in Ramona, California. They were believed to be eradicated by 2010 and were officially declared so in 2012.

Image source: Chuck Graham for Noowshawk

Despite the degradation, three endemic plants remain on the island: Trask's milkvetch, Red buckwheat, and San Nicholas biscuitroot. There are only three species of endemic land vertebrates on the island; the island night lizard, a type of deer mouse, and the island fox.


SAN MIGUEL ISLAND



San Miguel Island is the westernmost of the Channel Islands. Its area is 38 square kilometers and it includes offshore islands and rocks, most notably Prince Island. The highest point is the 253 meter high San Miguel Hill.



The Chumash called the island Tuqan and it supported at least two villages. Nowadays it supports no permanent human population. There are natural oil seepages which the Chumash utilized for a variety of purposes including waterproofing and paving.


ANACAPA

Anacapa Island (Image credit: Callie Bowdish)

Anacapa is the only one of the Channel Islands not to have a Spanish-derived name. Perhaps it was too small – or maybe it wasn’t there when the Spanish passed through. After all, the name comes from the Chumash 'Anyapakh meaning “mirage island.” The Chumash established no permanent villages due to a lack of consistent fresh water sources but did camp there seasonally as evinced by the remaining shell middens.



Anacapa is actually composed of three volcanic islets: East, Middle and West Anacapa, sometimes referred to collectively as the Anacapas. Their collective area is less than 3 square kilometers and it’s the smallest of the northern islands. At eighteen kilometers from the mainland coast, it’s also the nearest of the islands to shore. The ranger station there is home to three permanent residents.

Anacapa Lighthouse (image source: Shannon Technologies)

In 1853 the steamer, the SS Winfield Scott, ran aground off its coast and sank, stranding a group of passengers. Although they were rescued a week later, they left behind the ship's rats,which contributed to the destruction of the ecosystem. The US Coast Guard built a light beacon in 1912 and a Mission Revival-style light station built in 1932, which still stands and includes a lighthouse, fog signal, keeper’s quarters and other structures. It was the last lighthouse built by the United States Lighthouse Service. The island's most iconic feature is a twelve meter high natural bridge known as Arch Rock.

Arch Rock on Anacapa Island (Image source: Digital Apoptosis)

Sheep were introduced in the late 1890s and rabbits in the 1910s which decimated the landscape that was previously dominated by Giant Coreopsis (a large succulent that reaches heights of two meters) and Anacapa Island desert-dandelions. The last sheep were finally removed in 1938 and the rabbits were vanquished in the 1950s. The last of the rats were eradicated by 2002. It’s still home to sixteen endemic plant species which also survived the introduction of highly invasive iceplants by the Coast Guard. The current plan is to eradicate the last of that introduced species by 2016.

Pelican nesting spot on Anacapa (Image source: Callie Bowdish)

Anacapa is home to the largest breeding colony of the California Brown Pelican in the US and another unique subspecies of deer mouse. There are two native reptiles including the endemic Side-Blotched Lizard.


SANTA BARBARA ISLAND

Santa Barbara Island sea lion rookery

With an area of just 2.63 square kilometers, Santa Barbara Island is the smallest of the Channel Islands. Its highest peak is the 193 meter high Signal Hill. The island is located nearest to the center of the archipelago and is both lumped in with the southern islands and part of the Channel Islands National Park. It includes two named, offshore rocks: Shag Rock and Sutil Island which, like it, were formed by volcanic activity. 




Lacking a consistent source of fresh water or firewood, the island (which the Tongva called Tchunashngna) likely supported no permanent Tongva settlements. It was re-named by Vizcaíno who visited the island on December 4, 1602, Saint Barbara’s Day. The island is home to the largest breeding colony for Scripps's Murrelet , a threatened species of seabird. It’s also home to a large populations of California sea lions, harbor seals, and northern elephant seals. The Santa Barbara Island live-forever is a succulent species endemic to the island. A subspecies of horned lark, orange-crowned warbler, and house finches are also endemic. The only reptile on the island is the endemic (and threatened) night lizard.

(Image source: T.C. Boyle for Smithsonian Magazine)

Feral cats led to the extinction of the endemic Santa Barbara Island song sparrow in the 1960s. After years of ranching and the introduction of nonnative plants, rabbits, and cats, the native landscape is recovering under the guidance of the National Park Service.


*****

So there you have it, eight more reasons that Southern California is so special. Although I haven't opened up my community explorations to Santa Barbara or Ventura Counties, that's no reason to not visit the islands that are part of them. Of course you can always vote for Two Harbors or any other Los Angeles County communities to be the subject of future entries by clicking here. To vote for Orange County communities, click here. Finally, to vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, click here.


*****


Follow Eric's Blog and check out more episodes of California Fool's Gold

California Fool's Gold -- Exporing Culver City, The Heart of Screenland

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 17, 2013 06:24pm | Post a Comment
ALL ROADS LEAD TO CULVER CITY



Imagine for a moment that you are a contestant on the game show Jeopardy and you were presented with the answer, "This community's slogans have included 'The Motion Picture Capital of the World,' 'The Heart of Screenland,' and 'Where Hollywood Movies are Made?'" If you're like me you'd probably ask, "What is Hollywood?" with some confidence. If you did, however, Alex Trebek would make that slightly pained and disappointed expression and tell you that "the question we were looking for is "What is Culver City?" And again, if you're at all like me, you'd probably go, "Huh?" By the way, Jeopardy! has been filmed in Culver City since 1994.

Artwork in Culver City highlighting Hollywood

Culver City is, in fact, both currently and historically a major hub in the production of mainstream American Cinema (you know, the ones usually referred to as "Hollywood" films) but for whatever reason -- and despite the best efforts of many Culverites -- it has been far less successful than the Hollywood neighborhood in connecting its name to the entertainment industry in the global public's mind. In fact, I'd wager that more tourists and Angelenos associate Burbank, North Hollywood, Studio City, and Universal City with "Hollywood" film production than they do Culver City.


I'm not really sure what makes a city a "Motion Picture Capital of the World." For years now, both Mumbai, India and Lagos, Nigeria (Bollywood and Nollywood) have annually surpassed the entire USA in film production (and tellingly, as with Kollywood, LollywoodTollywood, &c, signal their film-centricity by using a portmanteau that incorporates their own city or language with "Hollwood" and not "Culver City"). Meanwhile Culver City officials and other boosters continue to remind everyone of their city's place in the celluloid world at almost every conceivable opportunity. I even saw a sign for an apartment complex under construction which announced that it will be "debuting" rather than opening in 2014 (although "debuting" makes it sound like it's a teenage Filipina). 

Admittedly, even though I consider myself a fairly informed guy, it wasn't until researching this piece that I learned of Culver City's filmic importance. I've had a few friends that have lived in Culver City in the past and my impressions of the place had more to do with its small town atmosphere, its amazing diversity of restaurants, and the unpretentiousness of its populace rather than movie production. Then again, although I'm a film fanatic, the first thing I think of when I hear "Hollywood" is Thai food.

*****


CULVER CITY'S CHARACTER

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Westside

Culver City is by most definitions (a small group who live west of the 405 would beg to differ) a community in Los Angeles's Westside (although like Santa Monica it's its own city). Compared not just to other Westside communities but Los Angeles County as a whole, the population of Culver City is highly diverse. As of 2010 the population was roughly 60% white (primarily German and English), 23% Latino (primarily Mexican) of any race, 15% Asian (primarily Filipino), 10% black, and 1% Native American.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Culver City

Although the Culver City's area is only about 13 square kilometers, the fact that it's shaped something like a Starfleet Type-2 phaser (the result of 42 strategic annexations) has resulted in its being neighbored by a large number of communities including Baldwin Hills, Cameo Plaza, The Culver City Arts District (which is mostly located outside of Culver City), Del Rey, La Cienega Heights, Ladera Heights, Mar Vista, Palms, Playa Vista, Venice, West Adams (not to be confused with the West Adams Historic District), Westchester, and Windsor Hills.

Culver City neighborhoods sign

Culver City is comprised of many neighborhoods of varying size. Their borders, names, and even status as neighborhoods isn't universally agreed upon. Some are descended from old tracts and others are little more than condominium developments. Anyway, in my research I found the following communities listed by at least once source as a neighborhood of Culver City: Blair Hills, Blanco (aka Blanco Park aka Beverlywood West), Carlson Park, Clarkdale (aka Tellefson Park), Culver City-90066, Culver City Terrace (a trailer court), Culver West, Culver Crest, Downtown Culver City, Emerald Estates (a gated community), Federal Park, Fox Hills, the Hayden Tract, the Helms District (aka the Helms Bakery District aka the Helms Design District), Heritage Estates, Jefferson, Lakeside Villa, Lakeside Village (a gated community), Lindberg Park, Little Culver, Lower Crest (aka Lower Culver Crest), Lucerne, McLaughlin, McManus (Culver City-East), the Nolan Tract, Park East (a gated community), Playa Pacific (a gated community), Raintree (a gated community), Rancho Higuera (aka Higuera), Regent Square, Studio Estates, Studio Village, Sunkist Park (aka El Marino), Tara Hill, Veterans Park (aka Park West), Washington Culver, and Windsor Fountains.

Downtown Culver City

Most of Culver City is comprised of low-profile residential neighborhoods comprised mainly of single family homes and most of what would likely of interest to visitors is likely located within and around Downtown Culver City, the Hayden Tract, the Helms District, or adjacent but actually within Los Angeles.


NOT IN CULVER CITY 

If Culver City officials and others are unhappy that the community is widely overlooked for its contributions to cinema they seem to be just as happy to allow Culver City to be associated with a number of attractions that aren't actually within the city as they appear on tour maps and Culver City directional signs. Ivy Substation (and The Actors' Gang), Carbon, most of the Culver City Arts District, the Hobbit HousesMedia Park, the Museum of Jurassic Technology are all in Los Angeles -- not that that should preclude Culverites' promotion or enjoyment of them.


*****


ANCIENT HISTORY OF THE AREA

It isn't known who the indigenous people of the Westside were nor what they called themselves. They may've been ancestors of the Chumash or speakers of a Hokan language. They probably arrived around 15,000 years ago. Some time later, around 8,000 years ago, they were displaced by or absorbed into a population whose ancestors migrated from the Sonoran Desert, a people who're today commonly referred to as Tongva. One of Tongva villages, Saa'anga, was located a little west of present day Culver City, near the mouth of Ballona Creek on Santa Monica Bay. There were other, smaller villages located around the watershed as well. 


THE SPANISH ERA 

In 1542 Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo claimed what he believed to be the Island of California for country of Spain. In June 1769, Gaspar de Portolà embarked upon an overland expedition from San Diego, stopping near present-day Santa Monica on the 3rd of August. It was the prelude to the Tongva and other Native peoples' subjugation within the California Mission System.


THE MEXICAN ERA

Mexico began its war of independence with Spain in 1810 and finally achieved it in 1821. That year the 12.65 km2 Rancho de los Bueyes was granted to Bernardo Higuera and Cornelio Lopez. To the east was Rancho Las Cienegas and Rancho La Cienega o Paso de la Tijera. To the west was Rancho La Ballona.  Augustín Machado and Felipe Talamantes had earlier been granted permission to graze cattle on Rancho La Ballona in 1819, around which time the Machado built an adobe on the banks of the creek which soon flooded and washed away the structure (Ballona Creek was paved by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1935 to prevent further flooding). In 1821, Augustín's brother Ygnacio and Felipe's son Tom came on board the operation. In 1834, Ygnacio Machado built the Centinela Adobe in what's now Inglewood.



EARLY AMERICAN PERIOD

The first La Ballona School

Although the US conquered California from Mexico in 1848, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ensured that land holdings belonging to Mexicans would be honored by the victors. However, as early as 1857 the land began to change hands - first when Benjamin D. Wilson acquired a portion on foreclosure of an earlier loan to Talamantes. In 1849 Ygnacio had moved to El Pueblo (in Downtown Los Angeles). In preparation for the possibility of the the War Between the States coming to California, Camp Latham was established on the southern bank of Ballona Creek (near Jefferson and Overland) and commanded by Brigadier General George Wright. In 1865, La Ballona School was built in what was by then called the Ballona Valley -- and Augustín Machado died.



HARRY CULVER AND THE DAWN OF CULVER CITY

Harry Culver - center, 1929 (image source: Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register)

Harry Hazel Culver (born in Milford, Nebraska in 1880) began work as a Southern California real estate developer in 1910, in the employ of Isaac Newton Van Nuys. Van Nuys founded a community named after himself in the San Fernando Valley in 1911. In 1913 Culver announced his plan for his "Culver City" to be located at the intersection of three Pacific Electric Railway lines (the Del Rey, Santa Monica Air, and Venice Short lines) and "3 splendid boulevards" (National, Pico, and Washington).

Culver City in 1914

The planned community -- situated in the middle of nowhere but between Los Angeles, The Palms, and Venice of America -- was promoted with the slogan "All Roads Lead to Culver City." Ironically, Culver City's Main Street -- filed in 1913 -- was then reportedly the shortest such road in the world.

Culver City Main Street in 2013

In 1914 Culver started the Culver Investment Company. By then the instant community already boasted a train depot, cyclecar plant, and a macaroni factory. Culver City was incorporated on 20 September, 1917 with a population of just 530 residents -- all white -- as the now diverse community was at its inception a whites-only "sundown town."



THE RISE OF MOTION PICTURES

Triangle Studio in 1916 - Culver City's first film studio

In the late 1910s, Culver City arose as one of the biggest centers of film production on the west coast (rivaling Edendale, Highland Park, and Hollywood) with the establishment of three major studios -- Triangle Film Corporation, Thomas H. Ince Studios, Hal Roach Studios and their successors -- as well as smaller ones (such as Willat Studios). Two of the three studio facilities still exist and one was torn down and replaced with light industrial buildings.


TRIANGLE FILM CORPORATION

The old Triangle Film Corporation studios today

Harry Culver met producer-director Thomas H. Ince when he was filming a western near Ballona Creek for New York Motion Picture Company (who'd opened west coast studio in Edendale) and persuaded him to set up a new operation in fledgling Culver City. In July 1915, Ince -- in partnership with Harry and Roy Aitken, and filmmakers D. W. Griffith and Mack Sennett -- founded Culver City's first motion picture company, Triangle Film Corporation. The LA Times almost immediately after published an article titled "Culver City a Movie Center." By 1917 producer Adolph Zukor had taken control of the studio, which then became Paramount-Artcraft Pictures. In 1919 it was sold it to Samuel Goldwyn. In 1924, his Goldwyn Pictures Corporation studios became the property of Metro Goldywn Mayer.

The old MGM lot

Today the Greek colonnade still stands although behind it is Sony Pictures Studios (and Columbia). In 2012, a 30 meter high metal rainbow sculpture was added that's visible from outside the lot.

Sony Pictures Entertainment and Tony Tasset's Rainbow


THOMAS INCE STUDIOS

The Mansion - The old Ince Studios

In 1918 Ince purchased a new lot nearby and established Thomas H. Ince Studios. Meyer & Holler designed the building that now houses Culver Studios -- a Colonial Revival structure that was nicknamed "The Mansion." In 1922, Ince Studios merged with First National Pictures, Inc. In November, 1924, Ince was invited aboard William Randolph Hearst's yacht, the Oneida, to celebratehis birthday on a trip from San Pedro to San Diego. Other guests included actors Charlie Chaplin, Aileen Pringle, Jacqueline Logan, Julanne Johnston, Margaret Livingston, Seena Owen, Theodore Kosloff and others. Ince was initially delayed due to his finalizing a production deal with Hearst's International Film Coporation and the boat set sail without its guest of honor. After concluding business, Ince took a train to San Diego where he boarded the yacht. Three days after his 42nd birthday he was dead. The official version was that he'd grown ill on the yacht and been taken home where he died of a heart ailment but the rumor mill immediately began churning out variations on a story involving infidelity and murder (or accidental shooting). The story was the basis for Peter Bogdanovich's film, The Cat's Meow.




After his death, Ince's widow Elinor took over Ince Studios for a short time. The Mansion later housed DeMille Studio (the Cecil B. DeMille Theatre was added in 1927), RKO, RKO-Pathé, Selznick International, Desilu, and Laird International Studios.

To give a since of The Mansion's importance in film -- it was there that David O. Selznick and Victor Fleming made the highest grossing film of all time -- Gone with the Wind (1939) and Orson Welles filmed what's often considered to be the best film of all time, Citizen Kane (1940). When it was Desilu its soundstages were used to film TV series including The Andy Griffith Show and Star Trek, among others.


HAL E. ROACH STUDIOS

Hal E. Roach Studios "near Los Angeles" 

Due to Los Angeles zoning laws, Hal Roach couldn't expand his studio operations and so moved to movie-friendly Culver City in 1919. His new studio, nicknamed "The Lot of Fun," was located on Landmark Street -- just south of the modern day Culver City Station of the Expo Line. The studio employed one of Culver City's first professional musical acts -- the Hal Roach Studio Orchestra. Hal Roach, of course, famously "created" the comedic Laurel & Hardy duo. To this day, a local branch of the Sons of the Desert  (The Worldwide Laurel & Hardy Society) meet weekly at the Culver Hotel.
During World War II the facilities were used to produce training films and it came to be nicknamed "Fort Roach." It was demolished in 1963 and is now memorialized with a plaque (Culver City has more historical plaques than I've seen in any other exploration). 

Leave 'em Laughing plaque



CULVER CITY SILENT FILMS

Films made in Culver City during the great era of Silent Film include: Luke's Movie Muddle (1916); Ask Father, From Hand to Mouth, The Hayseed, The Brand, Chop Suey & Co., and The Lone Wolf's Daughter (all 1919); The Penalty, His Royal Slyness, Haunted Spooks, and An Eastern Westerner (all 1920); Never Weaken, Now or Never, A Sailor-Made Man, I Do, Among Those Present, and Dodge Your Debts (all 1921); Our Gang and Dr. Jack (both 1922);



Safety Last!
, Why Worry?, Dogs of War
, and The Soilers (all 1923); He Who Gets Slapped, Girl Shy, The Wife of the Centaur, The Snob, Smithy, One Night in Rome, Zeb vs. Paprika, Big Moments from Little Pictures, Sinners in Silk, The Beauty Prize, The Dixie Handicap, Going to Congress, Barbara Frietchie, Accidental Accidents, A Tour of the Thomas Ince Studio, and The Cowboy Sheik (all 1924);

The Big Parade, Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ, The Freshman, The Merry Widow, The Unholy Three, The Monster, Pretty Ladies, The Circle, 1925 Studio Tour, What Price Goofy?, Isn't Life Terrible?, The Sporting Venus, Zander the Great, Confessions of a Queen, Never the Twain Shall Meet, Daddy's Gone A-Hunting, Big Red Riding Hood, The Haunted Honeymoon, Cheaper to Marry
, and Unfriendly Enemies (all 1925);

Bardelys the Magnificent, La Bohème, The Temptress, Tell it to the Marines, 45 Minutes from Hollywood, Along Came Auntie, Long Fliv the King, Exit Smiling, Mighty Like a Moose, Crazy Like a Fox, On the Front Page, Raggedy Rose, Valencia, Exquisite Sinner, For Alimony Only, The Fire Brigade, Monte Carlo, Dance Madness, The Barrier, Wise Guys Prefer Brunettes
, and Scared Stiff (all 1926);

and The Show, The King of Kings, Love, West Point, Chicago, Annie Laurie, The Second 100 Years , Duck Soup, The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg, Mr. Wu, Putting Pants on Philip, The Red Mill, Hats Off, The Battle of the Century, Why Girls Love Sailors, Sugar Daddies, Love 'em and Weep, Sailors Beware, Slipping Wives, With Love and Hisses, Buttons, The Flag: A Story Inspired by the Tradition of Betsy Ross, Olympic Games, Baby Brother, The Callahans and the Murphys, Tillie the Toiler, The Honorable Mr. Buggs, Adam and Evil, Are Brunettes Safe?, and Lovers? (all 1927).


THE HEART OF SCREENLAND TODAY

Culver City is still very active in film production. Normally I try to mention all of the films shot within a community but, at well over 11,000 there are far too many for a blog entry. If you'd like to peruse the IMDB list (sorted by date), click here.

To further emphasize how important Culver City's contribution has been I'll list just a few films made in Culver City have helped define, erm, Hollywood, including: King Kong (1933), The Thin Man (1934), The Good Earth (1937), A Star is Born (1937), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Rebecca (1940), It's a Wonderful Life (1946), Singin' In the Rain (1952), Oklahoma! (1955), The Night of the Hunter (1955), and Forbidden Planet (1956). It's also where TV shows like The Amos 'n Andy Show, The Adventures of Superman, The Life of Riley, The Abbott and Costello Show, The Great Gildersleeve, Lassie, The Thin Man, Gunsmoke, The Green Hornet, Gomer Pyle, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Little House on the Prairie and many others were filmed too.

Today Culver City is home to Sony Pictures Entertainment, the community's largest employer. It's the birthplace of film figures including Charles Herbert, Dee Dee Davis, Drew Barrymore, Gwen Verdon, Helen Hunt, and Michael Richards. Finally, it's also home to many production companies, talent agencies, studios, distribution companies, consulting firms, &c all having to do with film production.



EXPLOSIVE GROWTH

The Washington Building -- begun in 1926 and designed by Arthur D. Scholz and Orville L. Clark

The 1920s were the time of Culver City's greatest population growth -- the population increased over 1000% from just 503 to 5,669 during the decade. Prohibition, which lasted between 1919 and 1933, was somewhat ignored around Culver City and supposedly the race tracks, speakeasies, and nightclubs along Washington Boulevard were the reason Culver City annexed the area in 1924. During the Prohibition era Culver City was home to a thriving nightlife based around The Green Mill (which became Sebastian's Cotton Club -- where Lionel Hampton began his career with Les Hite), King's Tropical Inn (established in 1924), Barton's, Casa Mañana, Ford's Castle, Frank's Bar and Grill, The Hoosegow, The Hot Spot Café, and Moonlite Gardens. As a result, Culver City (along with Venice and Vernon) acquired a reputation as quite a happening and slightly lawless place. Culver City Council finally took action to prohibit gambling in 1928.


HOTEL HUNT - CULVER HOTEL

The Culver Hotel (right) and Pacific Culver Stadium 12 (left)

In 1924 the six-story flatiron skyscraper (the sky was lower in those days) Hotel Hunt was completed. Although no longer the tallest building in Culver City, it's still widely visible and is the most iconic structure in the community.At some point early on it was re-named the Culver Hotel. From 1924 until 1933 it housed Harry Culver's offices. It was later owned by John Wayne and in the past housed many movie stars including Buster KeatonClark Gable, Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Red Skelton, and Ronald Reagan. Before it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997, it was actually in danger of being demolished.


CULVER CITY SPEEDWAY

Culver City Speedway  1949 (image source: Auto Racing Memories)

From 1924 until 1927, the Culver City Speedway hosted auto races at a facility located near Overland Avenue and Culver Boulevard.


THE MERALTA



The Meralta was opened in 1924 by Pearl Merrill and Laura Peralta (who combined their family names to create the theater's name). The first film shown at the Will Rogers-hosted premier was Del Andrews's film, The Galloping Fish. It closed in 1983 and was demolished the following year -- replaced with a shopping plaza. 


CULVER CITYBUS

Gateway Station Post Office (built in 1940 ) includes a mural by George Samerjan (left) and CityBus (right)

Culver CityBus was founded along with Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus in 1928 -- they're the oldest municipal transit companies in the state. In 1997 a new Transportation Facility (with big urn sculpture in front) opened.

City of Culver City Transportation and Purchasing

At 2011's Government Fleet Conference, Culver CityBus was voted the 5th best fleet in North America. The regular fleet buses are green and the rapid buses are gray. In addition to Culver City its seven lines serve Century City, Mar Vista, Marina del Rey, Palms, Venice, Westchester, West Los Angeles, and Westwood -- covering an area of almost 70 km2.


ROLLERDROME



Rollerdrome opened in 1928 at the present location of Tellefson Park. An organ was added in 1929 and the house organist was Carl Osterloh. It was demolished in 1970.


THE CITIZEN

The Citizen Building

The Citizen Building was constructed in 1929 (the same year the older Culver City Star News merged with The Venice Vanguard). It served as the new home of The Citizen Publishing and Printing Company, first established in San Francisco in 1923 by Eugene Donovan before relocating to Southern California. The building, which mixes elements of Art Deco and Beaux Arts, was designed by Orville E. Clark and is eye-catching if a bit difficult to do justice to with photographs (on account of trees and traffic). In 1987, the Citizen Building became the first structure in Culver City to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Donvan's paper, The Citizen, actually ran a contest to rename Culver City. Entries included "Cinema City" and "Filmville" but obviously, Culver City's name remained the same after Hollywood and Culver City buried the hatchet at Grauman's Chinese Theatre



THE GREAT DEPRESSION

The Art Deco Beacon Laundry -- built in 1930

Thanks in large part to the film industry and new developments, Culver City fared relatively well during the Great Depression. The city adopted a municipal seal with the words "The Heart of Screenland" in 1936. In 1937 the city changed its slogan to "Culver City, Where Hollywood Movies Are Made." On 6 June, 1937 a measure was actually passed to change Culver City's name to "Hollywood" at which point Los Angeles responded by granting official recognition to and establishing official borders  of the Hollywood neighborhood. There were also several other key industries established in and around the city. A greyhound racing track was opened by Culver City Kennel near Lincoln and Washington Boulevards. Nonetheless, after the boom of the 1920s, population growth slowed tremendously even with the annexation of McManus Park.



HELMS BAKERY

Helms Bakery

Paul Helms's Helms Bakery was established on the border of Culver City and Los Angeles (in what's now known as the Helms Bakery District) in 1931. In 1932, during the Olympics, Helms Bakery supplied bread to the Olympic Village in Baldwin Hills. For more than forty years its fleet of delivery drivers brought bread "daily at your door" until 1969, when bakery closed shop.  In October, 2013 it was announced that chefs Sherry Yard and Sang Yoon plan to revive the bakery later in the fall.


HUGHES AIRCRAFT COMPANY

Culver City Airport and Hughes Aircraft Plant

From 1932 to 1985 the Culver City Airport and Hughes Aircraft Plant was established just outside of Culver City. Though technically located within Los Angeles; the name, proximity, and jobs it provided for Culverites make it worthy of a mention here, I think.


ST. AUGUSTINE CATHOLIC CHURCH

St. Augustine's Catholic Church

In 1883, the Figueroa family donated land for the construction of St. Augustine's, the first church in what became Culver City. It was completed in 1887. The new Franco-Gothic church was dedicated 1936.


HOLY CROSS CEMETERY 

The Grotto at Holy Cross (image source: Death 2UR)

The Roman Catholic Holy Cross Cemetery opened in 1939. An area known as "The Grotto" is, as they say, the final resting place of many celebrities including: Audrey Meadows, Bela Lugosi, Bing Crosby, Charles Boyer, Dennis Day, Edmond O'Brien, Fred MacMurray, Henry Hathaway, Jack Haley, Jackie Coogan, Jimmy Durante, Joan Davis, Joe Flynn, John Candy, John Ford, Lawrence Welk, Loretta Young, Louella Parsons, MacDonald Carey, Mario Lanza, Mary Astor, Mary Frann, Pat O'Brien, Ray Bolger, Richard Arlen, Rita Hayworth, Rosalind Russell, Sharon Tate, Spike Jones, Vince Edwards, and ZaSu Pitts among others.



CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS

Chinese Elms planted in the 1940s

The 1940s saw both increasing diversity within Culver City's population and at the same time, the population growth rate began to increase again -- although it nonetheless nearly reached 20,000 by the decade's end. Prior to the 1930s, most Jewish Angelenos had lived in the Eastside in neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights, City Terrace, and East Los Angeles. Toward the end of that decade and into the 1940s, many moved west to Hollywood, Midtown and especially the Westside. Culver passed away on 17 August, 1946 -- two years before the US Supreme Court banned segregation, which even more radically changed Culver City's complexion although restrictions against multiple-family housing helped retain an economic segregation. 


B'NAI B'RITH MEMORIAL PARK (HILLSIDE MEMORIAL PARK CEMETERY)

Al Jolson Memorial Shrine (image by David Horan for Paul Williams Project)

B'nai B'rith Memorial Park opened in 1941 just beyond the borders of Culver City. It was renamed Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in 1950. The Al Jolson Memorial Shrine was designed by great Los Angeles architect, Paul Williams, in 1954. The cemetery was annexed by Culver City in 1964. It contains the earthly remains of Allan Sherman, David Janssen, Dinah Shore, Eddie Cantor, George Jessel, Jack Benny, Jeff Chandler, Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Milton Berle, Moe Howard, Shelley Winters, and Vic Morrow among others.


CULVER THEATRE - KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE

Kirk Douglas Theatre fka Culver Theatre

The beautiful, 1,1640-seat, Streamline Moderne Culver Theatre opened in 1946. At some later point it was regrettably divided into a three-screen theater before being gutted in 1994. In the years since it's been renovated and transformed into a performing arts center and playhouse known now as the Kirk Douglas Theatre.


STUDIO DRIVE-IN



The Studio Drive-In opened in 1948. It was featured in several films including Grease and Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. It was closed in 1993 before being demolished in 1998 and redeveloped as The Classics at Heritage Park and Eras Center. (To read about still extant SoCal drive-ins, click here).


TRAINS OUT, CARS IN



The 1950s were a decade of increasing development. Passenger rail service ended in 1953 with the discontinuation of the Pacific Electric Railway line and at the same time car dealerships proliferated -- as did bowling alleys. In 1951, the annual Fiesta Ballona began -- an outgrowth of the earlier Tom Sawyer Days festivities which had begun in the 1930s. In 1953, the Temple Akiba opened to serve the community's growing Jewish population.


CULVER CENTER (AND SHIPS)

Ships Coffee Shop at Culver Center

The Culver Center shopping center opened in 1950, one of Southern California's first malls. In its honor, Hacienda Street was renamed Culver Center Street. The first Ship's coffee shop opened there in 1956. Fearing that Culver Center's growing dominance could spell the end for Culver City's smal downtown, the city council refused to allow May Company to open a shop in the mall.


VETERAN'S MEMORIAL BUILDING 

Veteran's Memorial Center and Film Strip-USA

Veteran's Memorial Building also opened in 1950, a year after Exposition Park was renamed Veteran's Park. Its most eye-catching feature was its Tourist Tower, which offered tourists a glimpse of the nearby studio's back lots and pretty stunning views -- although its been closed to visitors for several decades now. The current Lethbridge-Garden Room was then home to the Tower Restaurant. In front of the center is a fountain and sculpture titled Film Strip-USA, dedicated in 1984 to what the plaque calls "The Motion Picture Capital of the World." 


NIGHT WATCH

Even less recognized than Culver City's contribution to film is its contribution to reality programming -- although it likewise should be otherwise. In 1954, the great (if obscure) Night Watch debuted on CBS. It wasn't the first reality show -- that would be Candid Camera which debuted in 1948. But whereas the latter was nothing more than the sort of silly prank show still popular around the world, the latter was something more interesting. Night Watch was developed and hosted by Culver City police reporter Donn Reed at a time when audiences were leaving radio for TV and radio responded by offering realism (and perhaps voyeuristic exploitation) that the family boob tube couldn't. Each episode involved Reed riding with Sgt. Ron Perkins from 6:00 pm till 2:00 am and recording everything. It ended its short run in 1955 but all 48 episodes still exist and are fascinating glimpses of Culver City life in the 1950s. You can listen to them all here.



CULVER CITY IN THE 1960s

In the 1960s, although Culver City continued to annex more territory (including, notably, Fox Hills), the population growth rate again dropped, as it has in most of the decades since. In 1964 Culver City established its first Sister City relationship with Uruapan, Mexico. Though Culver City remains comprised mostly of single family homes it was during this time that the first apartments and condominiums were constructed. The first condo complex, Studio Village Townhouses, was completed in 1965. In the next decade, more studio properties would be sold off and redeveloped into residential complexes and shopping centers.


COMPETITION MOTORS

Culver City Competition Motors (photographed by Julius Shulman)

In 1961 entrepreneur and race car enthusiast John von Neumann hired Paul R. Williams to design the new headquarters for his Competition Motors on in Culver City. Von Neumann was responsible more than any other individual for popularizing Volkswagen in the US. Consider this -- whereas in 1953 there had been no American dealers of the car, by 1962 von Neumann alone had opened 57 Volkswagen dealerships in the country. By 1964 Competition Motors moved out, having outgrown the facility. I'm not sure when it happened but it Williams's beautiful building was demolished.



MEDITATION AND MALLS  

I'm sure a great deal more of note happened in Culver City in the 1970s than what I'm writing about but that's all I've got for now. 

THE JULIAN DIXON LIBRARY AND MEDITATION GARDEN

Kaizuka Meditation Garden

In 1974, another of Culver City's sister cities, Kaizuka, Japan, created a meditation garden in front of the Culver City Library. On the day that I visited it I discovered that the garden it's relatively inaccessible due its being surrounded by a fence. What's more, no water was running in the stream and the mill wheel was motionless. Further encumbering any efforts at meditation was the loud and seemingly endless stream of traffic behind me on Overland Avenue. Meanwhile the interior of the Culver City Julian Dixon Library, as it's now known, proved much more peaceful.


FOX HILLS MALL

Fox Hills Mall opened in 1975. The Gruen Associates-designed mall was the first three-story shopping complex to open in California. It was purchased by Westfield in 1998 and renamed Westfield Shoppingtown Fox Hills (The "Shoppingtown" was dropped in 2005). Jonathan Gold wrote a complimentary review of its "dining terrace" (food court) for the LA Weekly shortly before leaving that publication. It's currently officially known as Westfield Culver City.


DECLINE AND
 REDEVELOPMENT

The 1980s were marked by the AIDS crisis, Deinstitutionalization, Crack Wars, Gang Wars, and the Central American Refugee Crisis. It almost proved to be too much for the city that had weathered the Depression with comparative ease. The city's hopes for renewal were pinned on the destruction of The Meralta theater and the replacement of it with the Meralta Plaza office building.


FILMLAND CORPORATE CENTER - SONY PICTURES PLAZA

Sony Pictures Plaza -- undoubtedly designed by Cylons

In 1986, the Filmland Corporate Center was completed (now Sony Pictures Plaza) -- another of several projects helmed by the Culver City Redevelopment Agency within a short period. The pink granite pyramid-ish atrium portrayed the Wolfram & Hart offices on TV's Angel. Interested visitors can tour the studio, with daily tours starting here.


CORPORATE POINTE

Coporate Point (image source: CoStar)

In 1989, the three tower complex of Corporate Pointe was completed -- the tallest building is twelve stories and its construction prompted slow growth advocates ro react by successfully lowering Culver City's height limit to just 56 feet in 1990.


SONY - FILMED IN CULVER CITY

Culver City City Hall

Culver City's comeback continued in the 1990s. Sony bought MGM's old studio in 1990 and established itself as the dominant economic force in town. Beginning with 1991's films Bugsy and Hook, Sony films shot in Culver City stated in their credits that they were "Filmed in Culver City." A new City Hall was dedicated in 1995, behind the mock facade of the original city hall -- meant to suggest a film set.

Sony Pictures Imageworks

Sony Pictures Imageworks opened in 1992. This is where the visual effects and digital animation that characterize mainstream American film happens.

CULVER CITY IN THE 21st CENTURY

Construction of an Expo Line bridge and a Del Taco

In 2003, NPR West moved to Culver City. The Art Deco-styled (at least the exterior) Pacific Culver Stadium 12 multiplex opened in 2003. The Expo Line returned rail service and developers clamored to construct mixed-use transit-oriented developments. Around the same time a tribe of people calling themselves "foodies" starting visiting it. In 2009 it won Curbed LA's Curbed Cup -- basically their annual community popularity contest.


*****



GETTING TO AND AROUND CULVER CITY

Culver City Station - Expo Line train and a recently-paved parking lot (what would Joni Mitchell think?)

As already mentioned, Culver City is home to the excellent Culver CityBus system. In 2012, after 60 years without it, passenger rail service returned to Culver City (and the Westside) with the arrival of the Expo Line (which I explored both the completed section of, and the under-construction section of, for my KCET column, Block By Block). Before too long the train will go all the way to the Pacific Ocean (although it shouldn't be confused with the "Subway to the Sea," which is scheduled to take several decades to get there).

Expo Line (left) and bike lane (right)

Parallel to the Expo Line along most of its length is a bike path. There's also the Ballona Creek Bike Path that runs about eleven kilometers from near the eastern edge of Culver City to the Ballona Creek Estuary and Wetlands along Santa Monica Bay. Finally, there's the 3.4 km Culver Boulevard Meridian Bicycle Path and of course, bikes can ride on all city streets as well.

Ballona Creek and bike path

Additionally, Culver City is served by two Los Angeles Metro Bus lines (33 and 733), and Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus. And if you're the walking time, as I am, it's quite walkable. Walkscore gives Culver City a score of 79. The 90232 zip code, which includes most of the city's attractions, gets an 84 -- only one point lower than New York City and San Francisco -- the current #1 and #2 on the list.

If you want to stay overnight in Culver City there's of course the famous and highly-rated Culver Hotel as well as (in descending order of current Yelp ratings) Culver City Travelodge, Jasmine Hotel, Ramada Culver City, Sunburst Motel, Half Moon Motel, Astro Motel, Deano's Motel, and West End Hotel.



CULVER CITY EATS

What's the story with this clock? 

One of my absolute favorite things about Culver City is the diversity of the restaurant scene. There are restaurants serving Asian Fusion, Brazilian, British, Burmese, Creole, Cuban, Ethiopian, French, Greek, Hawaiian, Indian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Mexican, New American, Pakastani, Salvadoran, Taiwanese, Thai, Vegetarian, and Vietnamese cuisine, among others.

Oddly, on the day that I explored for this blog entry and despite the amazing choices available, every single person I saw at every single sidewalk café was grazing on salad. At first I thought it was some sort of special holiday or maybe I'd walked onto the set of a commercial for lettuce or something but I think it was actually an indication of the importance of "the Industry" actually; these people were quite likely "doing" lunch (in the parlance of schmooze).

There have been a couple of hiccups with the food explosion. Until 2011 there was Westside Food Truck Central and the Culver City Food Truck Fest which may or may not return after permits are sorted out. In the past I've enjoyed meals at Café Brasil, Empanada's Place, and shojin I have also heard a lot of raving (and almost just as much dissent) about Tito's Tacos -- but have yet to check it out -- suspecting (even though I should know better)  that its fans may never have crossed the LA River to the Eastside.

Culver City Farmers Market mural

If you'd like to learn how to cook, you can attend Culver City's New School of Cooking. You can get restaurant supplies from Surfas, which has been around since 1937. The Culver City Farmers Market takes place downtown every Tuesday from 3:00 to 7:00. It was actually setting up as I left the area and headed west, stopping at and enjoying a lunch at Samosa House (East). 

Other restaurants include:

A-Frame, Akasha, All India Flavor, Aramark, Bada Bing Italian Grill, Bawarchi Indian Kitchen, Bellagio, Big Fat Pita, Big Tomy's, Bistro Laurent, Bottlerock, Brunello Trattoria, Buffalo Wings & Pizza, Café Allegro, Café Creole, Café Laurent, Café Nagomi Truck, Café Surfas, California Roll & Sushi, Campos Tacos, Cappriotti's, Cilantro Fresh Mexican Grill, Cinco de Mayo, Creme de la Crepe, The Culver Studios Commissary, Dear John's, Delhi Biryani House, Dios Union Libertad, Don Felix Meat Market,

Dragon Restaurant, E K Valley Restaurant, Ekkamai Thai Restaurant, El Baron Restaurant and Night Club, El Jacalito, El Rincon Criollo, El Rio Bravo Restaurant, El Super Taco Deluxe
, Extreme Pizza, 5i Indochine Cuisine, Food Square, Ford's Filling Station, Fresh in the Box, Fuji Wok & Sushi, Gaby's Express Mediterranean Café, George Petrelli's Steak House, Good Eatz Café, Grand Casino Bakeries, Great Khan's Mongolian BarbequeGreen Peas, Green Truck, Grey Block Pizza,

Hamakaze Sushi Izakaya,
Honey's Kettle Fried Chicken, Huddle West Café, India Sweets and Spices, Industry Café & Jazz, Jackson Market, Jasmine Market, Jerry's Market, Johnnie's Pastrami Restaurant, Joyce's Pizza & Submarine Sandwiches, JR's BarbequeK-ZO, Kabab Bistro, King's Kabob, L'Epicerie Market, La Dijonaise Café et Boulangerie, LA Spice, LaRocco's Pizzeria, Libra Brazilian SteakhouseLucille's Smokehouse Bar-B-Que,Lunch, Lukshon, LYFE Kitchen,

M Café de Chaya, Mandarin Dish, Marin Company Steak & Spirits, Martini's Italian Deli & Pizza, Maxwell's Café, Meet in Paris, Metro Café, Mi Ranchito, Mongrill Gourmet Mongolian BBQ, Muddy Leek, Mykonos Greek Grill, Native Foods CaféNovocento Pasta & Grill, 101 Noodle ExpressOutdoor Grill, Panda Thai Kitchen, Patio Café, Pho ShowPinches Tacos, Pitfire Artisan Pizza, The Point, Polentoni, Public School 310, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Ramen Yamadaya,

The Restaurant at the Culver Hotel, Rising Hearts, Rita Hayworth Dining Room, Rocco's Tavern, Rockenwagner Bakery, Roll 'n Rye, Royal Chinese Food & Donut, Rush Street, Rutt's Hawaiian Café, S & W Country DinerSage Oragnic Vegan Bistro, Sake House by Hikari, Sarku Japan Sushi Bar, Sharlimar Cuisine of India, Shikibu Sushi & Pastry, Signature Burger, Signature Café, Smashburger, Sony Pictures Plaza Cafeteria, Sorrento Italian Market, Sushi Karen Japanese Restaurant,

Sushi Mashiko, Swanya Thai Cuisine, Taqueria Estilo, Tender Greens, TrimanaTub's Fine Chile, Ugo Café, Vera Pizza Napoletana, Victor Jr's, Viet Gourmet Express, Villa Italian Restaurant, Waterloo & City, Wildcraft Sourdough Pizza, The Wood Café,
 Yen Sushi Lounge and KaraokeZam Zam Market, ZZ Truck, and 041 Bacaro



CULVER CITY DRINKS

For the thirsty, there are a few places to wet one's whistle in Culver City including Alibi Room, Apothecary Café, Backstage Bar & Grill, The Bar at the Culver Hotel, Bird Pick Tea & Herb, Bottlerock, Caffe Carpe Diem, The Cinema BarCity TavernCoffee Buna, Cognoscenti Coffee, Conservatory For Coffee Tea & Cocoa, The Corner Door, Cozy Inn, Al Alteno Bar, Espresso Primo, George's Coffee Shop, Island Monarch Coffee, Joxer Daly's, King's Café, The Redd Collection, The Rumor Mill, Scarlet Lady Saloon, Seventy7, The Spot Café & Lounge, Studio BarTanner's Coffee Co, Tattle Tale Room, and Ugo Wine Bar.



CULVER CITY MUSIC SCENE

There have been at least a couple of "city songs" composed for Culver City. In 1967, Doris Hechinger composed "Culver City." In 1985, Marilyn Freiden Clark composed, "Our Culver City." The Culver City Symphony Orchestra has performed since 2000. It was also formerly home to Bratton Music Publishing Company (see below)

Bratton Music Publishing Co. sheet music (image source: Songs in the Key of L.A.)

Culver City is the birthplace or home base of several performers including (I think) include Aerial Stereo, Amy's Crusade, Andy ShigekawaAnonymoose and Young Cookie, APEX, Aphex Wolf, The Bad Bad Things, Becky Stark, bikos, The Black Heartthrobs, The Bomb Camarillos, Bronwen Jones, Chorus Babblebones, Chris Clarke, Co Wave, color cycle, Confucius is Confused, Cori Jacobs, Debbie HennesseyDJ Max FactorEarly the MC, Endor, Evyn Charles, Gorgonized Dorks, Ibn Gold, IkonInfernal Assault, Michael Nhat, Puppets, Rocky George (of Pap Smear, Suicidal Tendencies, 40 Cycle Hum, Cro-Mags, and Fishbone), Strings By Reiko, Tibay, TonyMoss, TVghettoblasterman, Vedad M, Ven Olac, VerBS, Yeren, and XPlatter. I'm not sure if he was born there but KXLU's DJ Ned Learner is widely associated with Culver City. 

Local music stores include Boulevard Music (who host the Boulevard Summer Music Festival), Culver City Music Center (which offers music lessons), and Latin Music Warehouse. Furthermore, Beats By Dre's headquarters are there, the Harvest Festival of Dulcimers takes place there, and Industry Cafe & Jazz features live music and poetry open mic nights. There are also almost certainly several music studios although the only one that I noticed were Musicians Choice Studio and Sound Space Lab.



ART IN CULVER CITY (AND THE CULVER CITY ARTS DISTRICT)

In a 2007 New York Times piece titled "In Culver City, Calif., Art and Food Turn a Nowhere Into a Somewhere" the writer refers to Culver City as a "nascent Chelsea" -- comparing Los Angeles to New York is the paper's highest honor. Anyway, the article mentions The Actor's Gang, Blum & Poe, HD Buttercup, The Mandrake Bar, and LAXart Gallery -- not one of those happens to be actually in Culver City, mind you. That's right, the arts area often referred to as the Culver City Arts District is almost entirely located within Los Angeles and not Culver City.

Helms District and beyond, the strip of Arts District along Washington actually within Culver City

The narrow strip of the Arts District along Washington that actually is within Culver City is home to quite a few galleries such as Cardwell Jimmerson Contemporary Art, Century Guild, Corey Helford Gallery, Fresh Paint, George Lawson Gallery, Indie Collective, Kinkead ContemporaryKoplin Del Rio Gallery, LeBasse Projects, Mark Moore Gallery, Prohibition Gallery, Roberts & Tilton, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Taylor De Cordoba, Thinkspace Gallery, and Washington Reid Gallery.

Harold L. Pastorius's Emerald Rings

Other art galleries that I'm pretty sure are in Culver City include Bradford Stewart, Marlene Louchheim, The Pop Studio, Royal/T, Subspace Art, Teale Street Sculpture Studio & Gallery, Whole 9 Gallery, and WWA Gallery. To see a map of galleries in the Culver City Arts Distict (both within and without Culver City) click here.

De L'Espries The Path of Life (2001)

There's plenty of public art too -- maybe too much. In 2009, construction workers mistook Jebediah Caeser's Gleaners Stone for construction materials and removed it. In my travels I noticed Harold L. Pastorius's Emerald Rings, The Lion's Fountain, and De L'Esprie's Path of Life (plus a lot of murals).


Rivers of the World mural


Postcards from Ballona


Click here
to see a map of public art in Culver City or here to see LAist's piece on a Culver City public art scavenger hunt. 



HELMS BAKERY DISTRICT

Helms Bakery closed in 1969 and in 1974 it was purchased by Walter N. Marks. It's now home to several restaurants and home décor places. It also hosts the Culver City Patchwork in which local artisans peddle their wares. The old bakery actually straddles the Culver City and Los Angeles border. At the southern end, La Dijonaise Café et Boulangerie and Lukshon are in Culver City. At the northern end, Father's Office is not. The distinction isn't totally obvious from street level although Helms Avenue becomes the pedestrian-only Helms Walk as it enters Culver City. The Helms District has also hosted LuckyRice -- one of the region's increasingly popular night markets -- and the Sunset Cinema sumer outdoor film screenings.



HAYDEN TRACT

The Hayden Tract

One of the other interesting neighborhoods of Culver City is the Hayden Tract, the city's former industrial district. Now most of them are home to offices by and studios for architects, graphic designers, new media types, software engineers, &c. Some of the newer and altered buildings in the area serve as calling cards for their creators (especially Eric Owen Moss, who should be proclaimed the Hayden Tract's honorary mayor) such as the Beehive, the Box Building, the Broadway Building, the Gateway Art Tower, the Samitaur Tower, the Stealth Building, and the "What Wall" Building. It's one of the most eye-catching collections of post-modern buildings in Los Angeles County.

Eric Owen Moss's The Beehive (1998)


Eric Owen Moss's  Gateway Art Tower (2010)

CULVER CITY PARKS

Culver City Park

Culver City is home to several parks. On one 4th of July I went with some friends to Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook or Culver City Park. From up on the hill we could see the entire Westside and noticed that nowhere were there any fireworks. Thoroughly nonplussed a couple of us headed what turned out to be south, discovering in South LA that yes, there are people west of Western who like fireworks displays. Culver City is also home to Blair Hills Park, Blanco Park, The Boneyard, Carlson Park, Culver City Skate Park, Culver West Alexander Park, El Marino Park, Fox Hills Park, Lindberg Park, and Syd Kronenthal Park.



OTHER SITES TO SEE

If you like museums there's the Mayme A. Clayton Library & Museum (focused on African-American memorabilia) and the Wende Museum (focused on Soviet and East German art). There are several book stores including Agape Quiet Mind Bookstore, Arcana Books on the Arts, Archangel Michael Orthodox Bookstore, Pauline Books and Media, and Vagabond Books. Culver City is also home to Blind Barber (a barbershop and lounge), the Brasil Brasil Cultural Center, Culver Ice Arena, Fox Hills Golf & Banquet Center, A Magic Forest (a children's space), and STAR Eco Station.(an environmental education and wildlife rescue center).



CULVER CLUBS


Culver City Teen Center

If you want to get involved in Culver City, there have been a great deal of civic organizations and clubs. The Culver City Westside Barbell Club seems to be inactive but the Culver City Woman's Club (established in 1920), Culver City Chamber of Commerce (established in 1921), Culver City Lions Club (established in 1923), Rotary Club of Culver City (established in 1930), Culver Palms YMCA (established in 1944), Culver City Historical Society (established in 1980), Kiwanis Club of Culver City, Optimist Club of Culver City, and Culver City Garden Club seem to all still be around (as are many others). Teens can utilize the Culver City Teen Center (with a parent's signature).

God Bless America and Aloha -  Guan Yu and the Virgin Mary in Culver City

*****

FOR FURTHER READING ON CULVER CITY, check out Julie Lugo Cerra's (Culver City's honorary historian) Culver City, Culver City Chronicles, Culver City: The Heart of Screenland, and Movie Studios of Culver City (the latter co-written by Marc Wanamaker). For current events there's the Culver City Times, Culver City Patch, Culver City News Blog, and Culver City Crossroads. For further viewing, look for Visiting... With Huell Howser "Episode #1804 - Culver City" (classic Huell begins around 12:40).

*****
To vote for other Los Angeles County communities  to be the subject of future blog entries, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, vote here. To vote for Orange County communities and neighborhoods, vote here

*****

<<  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  >>  NEXT