California Fool's Gold -- Exploring South Pasadena, Where the Past is the Present

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 8, 2011 05:13pm | Post a Comment

Today's blog entry is about the city of South Pasadena. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, vote here. To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods to be covered, vote here. To vote for Orange County communities, vote here.

Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of South Pasadena


South Pasadena is a small town of roughly 24,000 citizens located at the westernmost edge of the San Gabriel Valley. Situated north of the San Rafael Hills and east of the Arroyo Seco, its neighbors are Pasadena to the north, San Marino to the east, Alhambra to the southeast, Montecito Heights and El Sereno to the southwest, and Highland Park and Hermon to the west. Within its borders are the neighborhoods of Bean Tract, Downtown, Mission Street-East, Mission Street-West, Olga, Ostrich Farm and Raymond Hill, as well as the historic residential districts of El Centro/Indiana/Palm, Oak/Laurel, and Ramona Street. The demographics are roughly 50% white, 26% Asian (mostly Chinese and Korean) and 16% Latino (mostly Mexican).


The original inhabitants of modern-day South Pasadena and surrounding areas were members of the Hahamog'na band of Tongva. There were at least two Hahamong’na settlements in the area. Their leader, Hahamog'na, met Gaspar de Portolà on the overland Mexican Expedition of 1770. Upon converting to Christianity, Hahamog'na took the name “Pascual.” After the missions were secularized in 1834, Rancho San Pascual was granted to retired Spanish soldier Juan Mariné. After Mexico surrendered the land to the US in 1848, the Manuel Garfias Adobe was erected on Arroyo Drive in 1853. The adobe was the setting of the first non-aboriginal birth in what’s now South Pasadena. In 1875, landowners in San Pascual voted to rename their association “Pasadena." On March 2nd, 1888, the City of South Pasadena was incorporated, in part to resist their absorption into insatiable Pasadena. The population at the time was around 500.


           Ahn Chang Ho aka "Dosan"                                                     The Seal of South Pasadena

The original symbol of the city was an orange tree. Andrew O. Porter, chairman of San Gabriel Orange Grove Association and G. Harold Powell, head of the California Fruit Growers Exchange (now Sunkist), both lived in South Pasadena, at Orange Grove and Marengo, respectively. Both houses still stand. In 1910, Ahn Chang Ho organized fellow Korean-American laborers to lobby for better conditions from Alta Cresta Groves' C.E. Rumsey in Riverside. In 1974, the wooden Orangery Shopping Center was proposed and although ground was broken, the project was aborted. With all the orange groves removed, the city's symbol was changed to a generic tree. In 2002, the city council voted to change the city's flower from orange blossom to tiger lily.  


In 1886, travel agent Walter Raymond opened the 200 room Royal Raymond resort hotel on Bacon Hill (now Raymond Hill) for orange-picking tourists. Surrounded by the vast Raymond Flower Fields, it was the first major South Pasadena attraction. Although it burned down on Easter, 1895, it was rebuilt in 1901. Closed during the depression, after Walter's death at 82, the bank again burned it to the ground in 1934.


South Pasadena's second big attraction was the Cawston Ostrich Farm. Englishman Edwin Cawston established his first Ostrich Farm in Norwalk, then opened a farm in South Pasadena in 1886. The Ostrich Farm was quite the tourist destination and guests could ride the birds, feed them oranges, and purchase products made from their tanned flesh and feathers produced at the adjacent factory.


Oak Lawn Bridge

In 1904, the South Pasadena Realty and Improvement Co. contracted with Greene & Greene to design a pair of entrance-gate portals and an accompanying fence for the Oaklawn residential development. The bridge came in 1906, connecting Oaklawn and Fair Oaks and it has waiting stations at the ends. Maryam said it was closed to cars because it’s structurally unsound. However, we were assured that it was safe for pedestrians.


Fair Oaks Pharmacy

The Fair Oaks Pharmacy and Soda Fountain opened in 1915 as The South Pasadena Pharmacy. In the process of its restoration in the 1990s, many fixtures were brought from Joplin, Missouri’s Me Gee Pharmacy, just down the road on Route 66. It’s my go-to place for Crabtree & Evelyn and Caswell-Massey products and if you ever hanker for a malt or some old-fashioned candy like a Mary Janes, Blackjack gum or a Charleston Chew, they’ve got that too.


South Pasadena has produced a few musicians including Che Zuro, Dead Ball Era, Erin Alden, LA Font, Sculpted Static and Ricky Parish & The Blues Gypsys. In November, bands battle it out at the South Pasadena Music Center & Conservatory for the Battle of the Bands. Less bellicose is the Eclectic Music Festival & Art Walk in May. The city is also represented musically by the South Pasadena Community Band and the South Pasadena Adult Concert Band.

Battery Books and Music

There's a pretty new store which features live music too, The Battery Books and Music.


Garfield Park

South Pasadena is very green for Southern California, with shady streets lined with large, mature native California trees including ash, redwood, sequoia, sycamore and walnuts. There are also non-natives including sweetgum, and refreshingly few palms. There are also 92.2 acres of parks in the city: Arroyo Seco Park, Eddie Park (and House), Garfield Park, Orange Grove ParkLibrary ParkSan Pasqual Park and War Memorial Park. 


It’s partly because of South Pasadena’s relative lack of obvious California identifiers and small town feel that it’s such a popular place to film movies and TV. American Pie, Back to the Future, Beethoven 1 and 2, Beverly Hills 90210, Big Love, Bones, Boston Public, Brothers and Sisters, Bruce Almighty, CSI, Cold Case, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Death at a Funeral, Desperate Housewives, Dog Whisperer, Flags of Our Fathers, Freaky Friday, Gone with the Wind, Indiana Colony, Jack & Bobby, Judging Amy, Landscaper's Challenge, Legally Blonde 1 and 2, License to Wed, Mad Men, Modern Family, Mr. Deeds, National Treasure 1 and 2, Nip/Tuck, Old School, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Stepbrothers, The Girl Next Door, The Terminator, The Ugly Truth, 13 Going on 30, Windfall and XXX have all been filmed in part or in whole in the city.

The Myers home from Halloween

Some of the noteworthy homes from films are the Myers home from Halloween (1000 Mission Street),

George McFly's House from Back to the Future

George McFly’s house
(1711 Bushnell Ave), the Beethoven house (1405 Milan Avenue), The OC's Berkely house (1617 Marengo Avenue) and Step By Step’s Lambert-Foster house (2011 Fletcher Ave).


Two popular actors are South Pas natives. Joel McCrea, star of the amazing Tales of the Texas Rangers (as well as numerous films), was born there in 1905. Meredith Baxter of Family Ties and many made-for-TV movies fame, was also born there. In the 1970s she acted on the TV series Family, the exteriors of which were shot in South Pasadena too.

The Rialto Theatre 

The 1200-seat Rialto Theatre opened on October 17th, 1925. The opening program included trapeze artists, vaudeville acts and the world premier of Reginal Denny’s What Happened to Jones. The theater, which has Egyptian, Moorish and Spanish elements, was one of the last designed by noted theater architect Lewis A. Smith, who died the following year. In 1978 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1992 it was featured in Missourian director Robert Altman’s The Player. In 1997 it was featured in Scream 2. In 2001 I saw Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain with Christine, Seth and Stella. It went out of business on August 19, 2007.

South Pasadena supports one DVD rental store, Vidéothèque. Although their movie selection has fewer than half as many film titles as Amoeba, their focus on classics, cult, foreign, independent and rare cinema is impressive as is the sheer number of director and other subsections.


In a sad bit of South Pasadena film news, on December 30th, 1996, actor Jack Nance died of a subdural hematoma. The actor, a favorite of David Lynch's, claimed to have been involved in a fight at the Winchell's across the street and died the next morning. He was the subject of the 2002 documentary I Don't Know Jack.


The Michael Hollis Fine Art Gallery features work by contemporary artists, California Impressionists, Soviet artists and often features California-centric exhibitions. For theater enthusiasts or fans of British spelling, there‘s the Fremont Centre Theatre. The artistic directors are a wife and husband team, Lisa Layng Reynolds and James ReynoldsDays of Our Lives' “Abe Carver.”


Every Thursday in the Mission-West District, South Pasadenans enjoy the South Pasadena Farmer's Market. For athletes, the first Saturday of December every year brings the annual Tiger Run. On the other end of the health spectrum is the annual Parti Gras, which got its start in the Bristol Farms parking lot.


There aren’t too many restaurants in South Pasadena, just Ai Japanese Resaurant, The Barkley, Bistro de la Gare, Cake Sensations, The Cookshack, Carmine's Italian, Firefly Bistro, Golden China, Gus's Barbecue, Hi-Life Burgers, La Fiesta Grande, Mamma's Brick Oven, Mike & Anne's, Munch, Nicole's Gourmet Foods, Nonna's Pizzeria, Patakan Thai, The Raymond, Senor Fish, Shakers, Shiro, Tokoro Japanese and Wild Thyme as far as I can tell. As far as I know, alcohol is legal in South Pasadena but all the bars seem to be of the coffee variety. There’s the Burke Triolo Studio, but it’s only used for filming. There’s Buster's Ice Cream & Coffee Stop, Heirloom Cafe, House of Coffee and Kaldi. Boozehounds may want to follow their nose to surrounding communities (or sit at The Barkley’s bar). On the day of our adventure, we ate at Shakers. I thought the omelet-style potato pancakes were amazing although know beforehand that the service is very “relaxed.” I haven’t been to Mike & Anne’s in a while but I remember it fondly, too. 

Update: I completely missed Mission Wines and my friend Susie rectified that. They're primarily a retail space but do have a bar. The regulars were friendly and afterward we went to Mike & Annes which was delicious!

Until next time!

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Arcadia, The San Gabriel Valley's Community of Homes

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 4, 2011 11:30am | Post a Comment



Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Arcadia

Arcadia is a Los Angeles County community in the northern part of the San Gabriel Valley surrounded by Sierra Madre, Monrovia, Mayflower Village, Irwindale, El Monte, North El Monte, Temple City, East San Gabriel, East Pasadena and Pasadena. To vote for other Los Angeles neighborhoods to be covered on the blog, vote here. To vote for Los Angeles County communities, vote here. To vote for Orange County communities, vote here.

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California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Monterey Park

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 23, 2010 07:00pm | Post a Comment


This blog entry is about the Los Angeles County community of Monterey Park. To vote for more Los Angeles County communities to be the subject of future blog entries, click here. To vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, click here. To vote for Orange County communities, click here.

Monterey Park is located on the western edge of the San Gabriel Valley at the junction of the Eastside and SELACO. It is surrounded by Alhambra to the north, San Gabriel to the northeast, Rosemead to the east, South San Gabriel to the southeast, Montebello to the south, East L.A. to the southwest, and Lincoln Heights to the west.

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Happy Birthday, Los Angeles!!!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 4, 2010 06:27pm | Post a Comment

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Los Angeles County

Happy Birthday Los Angeles. The City of Angels turns 229 years young today (sort of). Back in 1781, so the story goes, 44 Spaniards from Mexico established El Pueblo de Los Angeles. Of the Spaniards, 26 were black, sixteen were Native or mestizo, and two were white. The city has grown even more diverse in the past two centuries and now L.A. boasts the greatest ethnic and cultural diversity of any city not only in the known universe, but the known space-time continuum.

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's bird's eye attempt at a Middle Earth style Southland map

Los Angeles also boasts more food trucks, Scientologists, playhouses, Angelenos, lowriders, smog and miles of freeway than any city in the US. A host of surrounding towns put the "great" in "Greater Los Angeles." Any regular readers will know that I like to explore the Southland, in an attempt to entertain and uncover the music, movie, culinary, cultural histories the many and varied communities of the great sprawl -- sort of Los Angeles' extended family.

If interested, please take a look at the list below and click here to vote for more LA neighborhoods, here for LA County communities, and here for OC communities to be the subject of future blog entries. 

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Map of the Angeles Forest region (Angeles Forest Facebook page)


Acton, Agoura, Agoura Hills, Agua Dulce, 
Alamitos Beach, Alamitos Heights, Alhambra, Aliso Viejo, Aliso Village, Alondra Park, Altadena, Anaheim, Anaheim Colony, Anaheim Hills, Anaheim Island, Angeleno Heights, Antelope Acres, Arcadia, Arleta, Arlington, Arlington Heights, Arlington Park, Arroyo Seco, Arroyo View Estates, Artcraft Manor, Artesia, Arts District, Athens, Athens on the Hill, Atwater Village, Atwood, Avalon, Avocado Heights, Azusa...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Antelope Valley (Antelope Valley Facebook page)


Balboa, Balboa Highlands, Balboa Island, Balboa Park, Balboa Peninsula, Baldwin Hills, Baldwin Hills Estates, Baldwin Park, Baldwin Village, Baldwin Vista, Bassett, Bay Harbor, Beachwood Canyon, Bel-Air, Bell, Bell Gardens, Bellflower, 
Belmont Heights, Belmont Park, Belmont Shore, Belvedere, Benedict Canyon, Beverly Crest, Beverly Glen, Beverly Hills, Beverlywood, Big Canyon, Big Mountain Ridge, Big Pines, Big Rock, Bixby Hill, Bixby Knolls, Bixby Village, Bluff Heights, Bluff Park, Bouquet Canyon, Boyle Heights, Bradbury, Brea, Brea-Olinda, Brentwood, Brentwood Circle, Brentwood Glen, Brentwood Hills, Brentwood Park, Broadway Corridor, Brooklyn HeightsBrookside Park, Buena Park, Bundy Canyon, Bunker Hill, Burbank, Byzantine-Latino Quarter...

Detail of Pendersleigh & Sons map showing LA County's Channel Islands (Channel Islands Facebook page)


Cahuenga Pass, Calabasas,  California Heights, Cambodia TownCameo Plaza, Cameron Woods, Canoga Park, Canterbury Knolls, Capistrano Beach, Carlton, Carroll Park, Carson, Carson Park, Carthay, Carthay Circle, Carthay Square, Castaic, Castaic Junction, Castellammare, Castle Heights, Central Area [Long Beach], Century City, Century Palms, Cerritos, Charter Oak, Chatsworth, Chesterfield Square, Cheviot Hills, Chinatown, Citrus, City Terrace, Civic Center, Civic Support, Claremont, College Park, College Park West, Commerce, Compton, Cornell, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Coto de Caza, Country Club Island, Country Club Park, Covenant Hills, Covina, Craftsman Village, Crenshaw, Crestview, Crestwood Hills, Cudahy, Culver City, Cypress, Cypress Park...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Downtown (Downtown Facebook page)


Dana Point, Del Aire, Del Lago, Del Rey, Del Sur, Del Valle, Desert Relief, Desert View Highlands, Diamond Bar, Dove Canyon, Downey, Downtown Industrial District, Downtown Long Beach, Drake Park, Duarte...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Eastside (Eastside Facebook page)


Eagle Rock, East Anaheim, East Compton, East Irvine, East La Mirada, East Lake, East Los Angeles, East Pasadena, East San Gabriel, East Village, Eastmont, Eastside [Long Beach], Eastside/Circle Area, Echo ParkEl Dorado, El Dorado Park, El Dorado Park Estates, El Dorado South, El Modena, El Monte, El Pueblo, El Segundo, El Sereno, El Toro, Elysian Heights, Elysian Park, Elysian Valley, Emerald Bay, Encino, Exposition Park...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of The Harbor (The Harbor Facebook page)


Faircrest Heights, Fairfax District, Fashion District, Figueroa Corridor, Figueroa Terrace, Financial District, Fletcher Square, Floral Park, Florence-Graham, Flower District, Foothill Ranch, Fountain Valley, 4th Street Corridor, Franklin Hills, Freemont Place, French Park, Fullerton, Furniture & Decorative Arts District...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Hollywood (Hollywood Facebook page)


Gallery Row, Garden Grove, Gardena, Garvanza, Glassell Park, Glendale, Glendora, Gorman, Gramercy Park, Granada Hills, Green Meadows...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Inland Empire


Hacienda Heights, Hancock Park, Hansen Hills, Happy Valley, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, Harbor Pines, Harvard Heights, Hawaiian Gardens, Hawthorne, Hel-Mel, Hellman, Hermon, Hermosa Beach, Hidden Hills, Highland Park, Hillside Village, Historic Core, Historic Filipinotown, Hollywood Dell, Hollywood Heights, Holmby Hills, Home Junction, Huntington Beach, Huntington Harbour, Huntington Palisades, Huntington Park, Hyde Park...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Mideast Side (Mideast Side Facebook page)


Imperial Estates, Industry, Inglewood, Irvine, Irwindale, Island Village...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartpgraphy's map of Midtown (Midtown Facebook page)


Jefferson Park, Jewelry District, Juniper Hills...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of North Orange County


Kagel Canyon, Kenter Canyon, King Estates, Kinneloa Mesa, Kinney Heights, Kite Hill, Knollwood, Koreatown...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Northeast Los Angeles (NELA Facebook page)


La Brea-Hancock, La Cañada Flintridge, La Cienega Heights, La Crescenta-Montrose, La Habra, La Habra Heights, La Marina Estates, La Mirada, La Palma, La Puente, La Tuna Canyon, La Verne, Ladera Heights, Ladera Ranch, Lafeyette Park, Lafeyette Square, Laguna, Laguna Beach, Laguna Canyon, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Laguna Woods Village, Lake Balboa, Lake Forest, Lake Hughes, Lake Los Angeles, Lake View Terrace, Lakewood, Lakewood Village, Lancaster, Larchmont Village, Largo Vista, Las Flores, Laurel Canyon, Lawndale, Leimert Park, Leisure World, Lennox, Leona Valley, Lido Isle, Lincoln Heights, Little Arabia, Little Armenia, Little Bangladesh, Little Ethiopia, Little India, Little Osaka, Little Saigon, Little Seoul, Little Tokyo, Littlerock, Llano, Lomita, Long Beach, Long Beach Marina, Longwood Highlands, Los Alamitos, Los Altos, Los Angeles International Airport, Los Cerritos - Virginia Country Club, Los Feliz, Loyola Village, Lynwood...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Northwest County (Northwest County Facebook page)


MacArthur Park, Magnolia Square, Malibu, Manchester Square, Mandeville Canyon, Manhattan Beach, Mar Vista, Maravilla, Marina Pacifica, Marina Peninsula, Marina del Rey, Marquez Knolls, Mayflower Village, Maywood, Melody Acres, Melrose District, Melrose Hill, Memorial Heights, Mesa Verde, Midway City, Miracle Mile, Mission Hills, Mission Viejo, Modjeska Canyon, Monarch Beach, Monrovia, Montebello, Montecito Heights, Monterey Hills, Monterey Park, Morningside Circle, Mount Olympus, Mt. Washington...

Penderslieigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Pomona Valley (Pomona Valley Facebook page)


Naples, Neenach, Nelie Gail Ranch, Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Nichols Canyon, North El Monte, North Hills, North Hollywood, North Industrial District, North Laguna Hills, North Long Beach, North University Park, Northridge, Northwood, Norwalk...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the San Fernando Valley (Valley Facebook page)


Oakwood, Old Bank District, Old Lakewood City, Olinda Village, Olive, Olive View, Olympic Park, Orange, Orange Hills, Orange Park Acres, Outpost Estates...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the San Gabriel Valley (SGV Facebook page)


Pacific Palisades, Pacoima, Palisades, Palisades Highlands, Palmdale, Palms, Palos Verdes Estates, Panorama City, Paramount, Park Estates, Park La Brea, Park Mile, Pasadena, Pearblossom, Penninsula, Picfair Village, Pico-Union, Pico Del Mar, Pico Park, Pico Rivera, Placentia, Platinum Triangle, Playa Vista, Playa del Rey, Plaza, Point Fermin, Poly High, Pomona, Porter Ranch, Port of LA, Portola Hills...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Santa Monica Mountains (SMM Facebook page)


Quail Hill, Quartz Hill...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the South Bay (South Bay Facebook page)

Rancho Estates, Rancho La Tuna Canyon, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rancho Park, Rancho Santa Margarita, Redondo Beach, Regent Square, Reseda, Reseda Ranch, Reynier Village, Ridgewood-Wilton, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Rolling Hills Highlands, Roscomare Valley, Rose Hill, Rose Hills, Rose Park, Rossmoor, Rowland Heights, Rustic Canyon...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South LA's Eastside (South LA's Eastside FB page)


Saint Mary's, San Clemente, San Dimas, San Fernando, San Gabriel, San Joaquin Hills, San Juan Capistrano, San Juan Hills, San Juan Hot Springs, San Marino, San Pedro, Santa Ana Heights, Sandberg, Santa Ana, Santa Clarita, Santa Fe Springs, Santa Monica, Santa Monica Canyon, Santiago Canyon, Santiago Hills, Sawtelle, Seal Beach, Sepulveda, Shadow Hills, Shady Canyon, Sherman Oaks, Sherman Village, Shoreline Village, Sierra Madre, Sierra Vista, Signal Hill, Silver Lake, Silverado Canyon, Skid Row, Solano Canyon, South Brentwood, South Carthay, South Central, South El Monte, South Gate, South Laguna, South of Conant, South Park, South Pasadena, South Robertson, South San Gabriel, South San Jose Hills, South Shores, South Whittier, Spaulding Square, Spinnaker Bay, Spinnaker Cove, St. Andrews Square, Stanton, Stearns Park, Stevenson Ranch, Stonehurst, Stratford Square, Studio City, Sun Valley, Sun Village, Sunland, Sunny Hills, Sunrise, Sunset Beach, Sunset Heights, Sunset Hills, Sunset Junction, Surfside, Sylmar...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South LA's Westside (South LA Westside FB page)


Talega, Tarzana, Tehrangeles (Little Persia), Temple-Beaudry, Temple City, Terminal Island, Thai Town, The Gardens, The Village, Three Arch Bay, Toluca Lake, Toluca Woods, Tonner Canyon, Topanga, Torrance, Toy District, Trabuco Canyon, Trabuco Highlands, Traffic Circle, Tujunga, Turtle Rock, Tustin, Tustin Foothills, Tustin Legacy, Tustin Ranch, Two Harbors...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South Orange County


University Hills, University Park, University Park Estates...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Southeast County (SELACO FB page)


Val Verde, Valinda, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Valyermo, Van Nuys, Venice, Venice Canals, Ventura Business District, Vermont Knolls, Vermont Square, Vermont Vista, Vernon, View Heights, View Park-Windsor Hills, Villa Park, Village Green, Vincent, Vinegar Hill, Virgil Village, Vista del Oro...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of The Verdugos (Verdugos Facebook page)

Wagon Wheel, Walnut Park, Walnut, Warner Center, Watts, Wellington Heights, Wellington Square, West Adams, West Alameda, West Athens, West Carson, West Compton, West Covina, West Garden Grove, West Hills, West Hollywood, West Long Beach, West Park Terrace, West Puente Valley, West Toluca, West Whittier-Los Nietos, Westchester, Westdale, Western Heights, Westgate, Westlake, Westlake Village, Westminster, Westmont, Westridge Heights, Westside Village, Westwood, Westwood North Village, Westwood, Village, Whalers Cove, Whitley Heights, Whittier, Wholesale District, Willmore City, Willowbrook, Wilmington, Wilshire Center, Wilshire Highlands, Wilshire Park, Wilshire Vista, Windsor Square, Windsor Village, Winnetka, Woodbridge, Woodbury, Woodland Hills, Wrigley Heights, Wrigley North, Wrigley South...

                      Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Westside (Westside Facebook page)


Yorba Linda, Yucca Corridor...

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography map of The County of Los Angeles


California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Burbank, A City Built by People, Pride, and Progress

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 22, 2010 08:20pm | Post a Comment

This blog entry is about the Los Angeles County community of Burbank. To vote for other communities, click here. To vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, click here. To vote for Orange County communities, click here.

Burbank from the Verdugos

For this episode, I was accompanied in the CARDIS by frequent traveling companion, Shimbles. We were originally to be accompanied by Matt Masocco, but he was called into Amoeba to work at the last minute. It was a hot, muggy day in Los Angeles.

Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of the San Fernando Valley


Anyway, Burbank is located in the San Fernando Valley and can be divided into two distinct areas, one nestled on the slopes and foothills of the Verdugo Mountains, and one in the western portion in the southeastern end of the San Fernando Valley. Burbank is surrounded by Tujunga and Sunland to the northeast, Shadow Hills to the north, Sun Valley to the northwest, North Hollywood to the west, Toluca Lake and Universal City to the southwest, Griffith Park to the south, and Glendale to the east.

Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Burbank

Being its own city, Burbank is made up of several of its own neighborhoods, including happening Downtown (with the Mall District, The Civic Center and Burbank Village), noisy Burbank Junction, hilly Burbank North Estates, chill Chandler Park, Hillside, edgy Magnolia Park, the bustling Burbank Media Center, McNeil, the Northwest District, and the horse-friendly Rancho Adjacent and the Rancho Equestrian Districts


The Tongva had lived along the Valley's waterways for some 8,000 years. After the Spaniards invaded, the area making up Burbank became part of Rancho San Rafael in 1784. It was in the area that would become Burbank that the Spaniard governor was unseated and replaced by Pio Pico in Mexico's War of Independence. After that, another portion of what would become Burbank was made part of Rancho Providencia in 1821.


As we all know, the US conquered Mexican California a couple of generations later. The Yanks put a new man in charge, a dentist from Maine, Dr. David Burbank, who purchased about 10,000 acres of the area in 1867 and built a ranch on which he grew wheat and raised sheep. In less than 10 years, the San Fernando Valley was LA County's king of wheat production. The Southern Pacific Railroad arrived, connecting LA and SF in 1876 and settlement of the area increased, centered around Olive Avenue, formerly a Tongva trail to the Cahuenga Pass. In 1887, Providencia Land, Water, and Development Company began developing the land, calling it Burbank. With the money Dr. Burbank had amassed both from his career and sales of his land, he opened the Burbank Theatre in 1893, in downtown Los Angeles.


In 1907, farmer Joseph Fawkes and E.C. Fawkes secured the first American patent for a monorail. They formed the Aerial Trolley Car Company and christened their first monorail "Aerial Shadow." In 1907, it embarked on its first trek... only to fall apart after traveling approximately a foot. It was rebranded "Fawkes' Folley." In 1911, Joseph Fawkes re-settled on West Olive in Burbank where he grew apricots. The same year, Burbank was incorporated as a city and, two months later, a more reliable method of transportation, the Red Car, arrived. After that, the previously primarily agricultural town would rapidly industrialize and grow. In 1916 Burbank had 1,500 residents. That year, Original Stage Lines began running buses between Downtown Los Angeles and Burbank.

Today Burbank is also accessible by Metrolink's commuter rail Antelope Valley Line and Ventura County Line, Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner and Coast Starlight, Glendale's Beeline, and the Los Angeles Metro. The Metro's 92 Line follows the route of the old Pacific Electric Glendale-Burbank Red Car Line that was discontinued in 1955. The main transit organization is Burbank Bus, which began in 2005 as the successor to Burbank Local Transit and operates four lines. To read an in depth history of Burbank public transit, click here.

Burbank 1922


By 1930, the time First National Studios, Andrew Jergens Company, The Lockheed Company, McNeill and Libby Canning Company, the Moreland Company, and Northrop Aircraft Corporation were located there, the population jumped to 16,662.


In 1930, Burbank's United Airport was the largest commercial airport in the Los Angeles area, helping cement the town's association with the flight industry.


The Lockheed Vega plant before and after camouflage

During World War II, Lockheed's Vega factory was camouflaged to foil possible Japanese invaders with a fake suburb replete with automobiles, homes and trees.


The Burbank Empire Center

In late 2001, the Burbank Empire Center opened on the former site of Lockheed's Skunk Works and other properties with aviation as the theme. The buildings in the shopping center look something like airplane hangars and the signs have airplanes above them. With the air industry and service jobs for the industry's many workers, Burbank's population reached 78,577 in 1950.


Burbank City Hall

Burbank's Art Deco City Hall was designed by William Allen and W. George Lutzi and completed in 1943. Inside is a large mural painted by Hugo Ballin depicting Burbank's ties to agriculture, aerospace and film.



The decade that symbolizes for many "The Good Ol' Days" was marred, in 1953, by one of Burbank's most infamous crimes. In March of that year, the 64-year-old widow Mabel Monahan answered the door of her West Parkside Avenue home when Barbara Graham (aka Barbara Wood) knocked. Bloody Babs, as the press later nicknamed her, and Jack Santo, John True, Baxter Shorter and Emmet Perkins bust in in search of her rumored fortune. After she refused to give them anything, Bloody Babs beat her skull in with a gun and suffocated her with a pillow. They stuffed her body in a closet which, ironically, had about $15,000 of jewels and other valuable that Babs and her accomplices failed to find. True sang in exchange for immunity. Shorter disappeared (and was assumed dead) and the other three went to the gas chamber. Susan Hayward later won an Academy Award for playing Graham in the highly fictionalized movie I Want to Live! (1958). It was remade in 1983 with Lindsay Wagner.



Burbank's skyline was very low until 1974, when the 10-story Pacific Manor was completed. The second skyscraper was only one by the original definition -- the 6-story 333. N. Glenoaks.

The 1980s saw the greatest period of highrise construction in Burbank. The 21-story Holiday Inn Burbank Media Center was completed in 1981 and, when I worked at the Penny Lane there, I sometimes used to ride its elevators on my lunch break for lack of anything better to do. In 1983, the 6-story Burbank Executive Plaza and the 10-story 303 North Glenoaks opened. The 10-story Burbank Center was completed in 1984. In 1985 the 14-story Central Park at Toluca Lake and the 21-story 3800 West Alameda were completed. Finishing out the 1980s, the 13-story Studio Plaza and 36-story The Tower were completed.

Currently, The Tower, in the Media District, is the 26th tallest building in the Southland and the second tallest building in the San Fernando Valley, after Universal City's 154 meter tall Universal City Plaza. It was designed by Nadel Architects Inc and was originally known as Tower Burbank. The 36 story, 140 meter tall skyscraper is the tallest concrete structure ever built in a severe US earthquake zone.
The 2000s saw the completion of the 10-story ABC Building in 2001 and the 14-story The Pointe in 2009. 


Lawrence Bittaker, Roy Norris and their rape van, Murder Mack

Another horrible crime rocked Burbank in 1979, when a psychopathic Burbank machinist, Lawrence Bittaker, and his prison buddy, convicted rapist Roy Norris, bought a bought a 1977 GMC cargo van, which they came to call "Murder Mac" and hatched a plan to rape and kill local girls, eventually attacking at least six, killing them with coat hangers and ice picks after repeatedly raping them.


Luckily, the Good Ol' Days are gone and done and nowadays the violent crime rate is incredibly low. Today, home as it is to the HQ of Warner Bros, NBC Universal, The Walt Disney Company, Cartoon Network, Viacom and PBS, Burbank has been given (or perhaps gave itself) the nickname "The Media Capital of the World." It's population is 59% white (largely Armenian and Persian), 25% Latino (mostly Mexican), and 9% Asian.


There's actually a fair amount of stuff to do in Burbank, which is perhaps why musician Brett Shady described it to me as "The Jewel of the 818." For higher-minded types (like myself, of course), there's the Colony Theatre, Artpeace Gallery, Grove Theatre Center, The Victory Theatre, Theatre Banshee and Hyaena Gallery. Until recently, Burbank was home to now defunct Lodestone Theatre Ensemble, one of too few Asian-American theater venues. I'm providing a link in the hope that they come back in some way, shape or form.

Inside the Blue Room


For lowbrow types (like myself) who just fancy getting drunk, there are some nice joints, like the The Blue Room and Corner Bar, which I can both recommend from experience. For those that prefer staring at athletes whilst they drink, rather than chatting up cuties, there's Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar, Joe's Great American Bar, Burbank Bar & Grille (formerly *cough* Burbank X-Treme Bar & Grille), Tin Horn Flats Bar & Grill, Michael's Bar & Grill, Park Bar & Grill, Office Bar & Grill and Champs. There's also Whiskey Bend, Sardo's karaoke club, the nightclub Mr. B Entertainment, and the pubs Snug, Tony's Darts Away and Buchanan Arms.

A trail in Wildwood Canyon

There's plenty to do as well that doesn't (necessarily -- but can) revolve around the consumption of alcohol too. There's the Stough Canyon Nature Center, the Chandler Bikeway, Brand Park, Wildwood Canyon Park, and many smaller ones. At the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, there's the Equidome, which is used for rodeos, concerts and is the site of Equestfest and the the annual Fiesta of the Spanish Horse. Oh yeah, there's also Pickwick Garden.


As always, I was on the look out for places to eat. Numerous recommendations came in from Burbankans for Chili John's so the CARDIS transported us to the area.... only to find that it's closed for the entire month. In a rare display of decisiveness, Shimbles declared his desire to feast upon a grinder so instead we went to Santoro's Subs, which was also recommended by Burbank native Ferndangolo. The sandwiches were nothing fancy but quite good and absolutely overloaded with ingredients. Make sure to grab at least six napkins. Another restaurant of note in Burbank is the Bob's Big Boy. Built in 1949, it's the oldest remaining Bob's Big Boy, a nice example of Googie architecture and a popular spot for car clubs to congregate.

Other joints include Alfredo's Granada, Ameci, Apollo, Arbat, Arde's Bistro, Arnie Morton's, Backstage Cafe, Bahia Caporales, Barney's Beanery, Bella Vista, Ben's Catering and Deli, Big Mama's & Papa's Pizzeria, Big Screen Cuisine, Bistro Provence, Burning Bonzai, Cafe Colombia, Cafe Elegante, Cafe O Hookah Lounge & Restaurant, Cafe Valentino, California Pizza House, Candelejas, Castaway, Century Dragon, Chadaka Thai, Choza Mama, Coral Cafe, Corner Cottage,

Costa Azul, Cupcakes & Co, De Bell's Clubhouse, Dimples, Dino's Pizza, Don Cuco, Don Diego Mexican, Donut Hut, El Mexicano Inn, El Tapatio, El Torito, Elephant Bar, Exotic Thai, Flavor of India, Frank's Steak House, Frontier Wok Too, Garlic Jim's Famous Gourmet Pizza, Garni Kebab, Gary Bric's Ramp, George's Patio Cafe, Gindi Thai, Gitana, Gourmet 88 Burbank, Granville Cafe, Green Garden Cafe, Guido's, Harry's Family, Healthy Bites, Hill Street Cafe, Honeydew, Islands,

Jeff & Tony's, Knight, Kotayk Kabob Deli, L'Angolo, La Bamba, Larry's Chili Dog, Lily's Cafe, Lotus Chinese Gourmet, Magnolia, Martino's Bakery, McCormick & Schmick's Seafood, Menchie's Frozen Yogurt, Mo's, Momotaro, New Town Buffet, Norm's, North End Pizzeria, Octopus, Ohana Hawaiian BBQ, Papoo's, Parazzi, Philly's Best, Picanha Brazilian, Pinball Pizza, Pinocchio Restaurant, Pizza Factory, Pizza Man, Poquito Mas, Porto's, Pupuseria del Valle, Ribs USA, Rico's Pizza,

Riverside Cafe
, Robert's Cuisine, Saraya Thai, Sawan Cafe, Season Thai Cuisine, Seoul Korean BBQ, Simply Coffee & Boutique, SmokehouseSol y Mar, South Street Burbank, Sun Moon Garden, Sushi Dake, Tallyrand, Taste Chicago, Tequila's Restaurant-Bar & Grill, Thai Kitchen, Theresa's Family, Third & Olive, Tokyo Yakidori, Tomo Sushi, Tony's Italian Deli, Urban Eats, Venice Deli, Victorios, Viva Fresh Mexican, Western Bagel Burbank, Wokcano Cafe, Wok to Go, Yogurtiers, Yum Yum Donuts, Yummy Cupcakes, Z Pizza, Zankou Chicken
and Zono Sushi.

The Starlight Bowl in 1950


Burbankans and others can enjoy the music of The Burbank Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1950, the Starlight Bowl opened in Slough Park, which plays host to a summer concert series. Musicians born in Burbank include Bonnie Raitt, Krista Detor, Jay Ferguson, Bruce Gary, David Leonard Johnson, Zella Lehr, Angel, Paul Barrére, Dave Markey, Amanda McBroom, Jeff Steele and Cliffie Stone. The bands Bleeding Kansas and Lovehatehero represent the Burbank sound, as does the annual concert Burbstock.

   Magnolia Park's Atomic Records

Burbank Village's Backside Records

Burbank is home to a couple of Mom and Pop record stores as well -- Atomic and Backside. We went to Atomic and Shimbles almost bought a Clash 7" before deciding otherwise, afterward letting it be known that it was the first time he'd ever entered a record store and not purchased anything. Later, we went to Backside where he... bought a Clash 7".


As home to several major "Hollywood" studios, over 12,000 films and TV episodes have been filmed in Burbank, all of which I will now list. Only joking! But yes, movies arrived in Burbank in the '20s. In 1926, First National Pictures opened on Olive Avenue. Disney moved to Burbank from Franklin Hills in 1939. Disney originally wanted to build "Mickey Mouse Park," as Disney first called Disneyland, next to the Burbank studio but that idea was rejected. In March 1945, an estimated 10,500 CSU workers went on strike and began picketing all the studios, resulting in delays of several films. Unfortunately for CSU, the studios had some 130 films which they'd been sitting on so they initially planned on just waiting out the strike. Finally, on October 5, 1945 a riot broke out, the so-called The Battle of Burbank. The disorder in Hollywood helped prompt the passage of the Taft-Hartley bill, which tarred the CSU's leader, Herb Sorrell, as a commie, resulting in CSU's descent into obscurity. In 1952, NBC moved to Burbank. On Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, they'd always announce that they were being brought to audiences from "beautiful downtown Burbank." In fact, they were filmed in Burbank's Media Center (pictured above) and not downtown Burbank.

New York Street being built in Burbank

Most of the movies shot in Burbank were filmed on various studio back lots, including films like Casablanca, Mary Poppins (1964) and The Princess Diaries (2001), to name three seemingly random examples. The Columbia Ranch is one of the most famous lots. It opened in 1934 and countless serials, films and TV shows had scenes filmed there. In 1970, a catastrophic fire destroyed a quarter of the lot. Half of the western set and the colonial/European set burned down. By mid 1971, Columbia and Warner Bros studios decided to combine their forces. In 1990, Columbia Pictures separated from Warner Bros and left Burbank, leaving the Ranch completely. Warner Bros. gained ownership of the lot and renamed it Warner Ranch.

Burbank is also where a TV series, Chuck, is set. The Burbank Town Center has been featured in the Bad News Bears remake, Cold Case, Gilmore Girls, ER and Desperate Housewives.

There are a couple of noteworthy filming locations in Burbank outside of the studios. First, there's the Safari Inn Motel, which was featured in True Romance, Apollo 13 and Coach Carter.

The Arnolds' House

The Coopers' House

University Ave was central to the TV series The Wonder Years. At 516 University Avenue is the Arnold household (pictured above left), built in 1949. Kevin's hapa love interest, Winnie Cooper, lived just down the block (pictured above right).

Cubby, Clint and Wally - three of Burbank's suspiciously large number of child actors

Gallery 42 sells original film posters. Book Castle's Movie World sells all kinds of movie memorabilia. Burbank also hosts the Burbank International Film Festival. Actors Jon Ritter, Doug Savant, Jill Schoelen, Wil Wheaton, Mara Wilson, Cubby O'Brien, George O'Hanlon Jr, Eve Plumb, Wally Albright, Steve Kanaly, Laura Johnson, Mark Harmon, Clint Howard, Erin Moran, Andrew Gold, Cady McClain, Debbe Dunning, Jennifer Grant, Ami Dolenz, Eddie Cibrian, Garette Ratliff Henson,  John Kidwell, Lalaine, Marina Malota and directors Tim Burton and David Markey were all born in Burbank.


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