Time Capsule Tuesday: A Circa 1940s Photograph from Puente Hill

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

This second entry in the “Time Capsule Tuesday” series heading toward June’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the City of Industry highlights a circa 1940s photograph taken from Puente Hill (or just “P Hill”) looking southwest.

Puente Hill, an outlying part of the San Jose Hills chain, was part of the portion of Rancho La Puente owned by John Rowland during much of the 19th century.  In the years after the town of Puente was formed in 1885 by Rowland’s grandson, Albert, and his partners, including Abram E. Pomeroy and George W. Stimson (founders of Pismo Beach), the hill wound up becoming the site of the town’s landfill.

After 1957, when the City of Industry was incorporated, the hill was included in its city limits, but the landfill was closed and a new use was put forward in the city’s 1971 general plan.  This led to the creation of the Industry Hills complex with a hotel (formerly a Sheraton and now Pacific Palms), golf courses, the Expo Center, and other amenities.

Puente Hill southwest 1940s
This circa 1940s photograph taken from Puente Hill (or “P Hill”) looks toward the town of Puente in the foreground, the North Whittier Heights (now Hacienda Heights) area below the Puente Hills and the Homestead in the center, where the line of green trees and the white walls of the Workman House and adjacent garage are visible.  Part of the City of Industry occupies the farmland between Puente and the Puente Hills.

Still, all of that was decades away when this photo was taken.  In the foreground is part of the still-rural town of Puente.  To the center right is the large Stafford feed mill that was in the area for many years and bordered Valley Boulevard and the Southern Pacific railroad line that run the length of the La Puente Valley.

In the distance is the far western portion of the Puente Hills, which, except for a few hillside homes, were largely untouched.  The Puente Hills Landfill would later take up a good part of the hills at the upper right of the photo.  Meanwhile, on part of the hills and in the sections just below it are mainly orange groves and avocado groves in what was then called “North Whittier Heights,” subdivided in the early 1910s.  When suburban development came along by 1960, the community’s name was changed to “Hacienda Heights,” with the hacienda possibly referring to the Homestead.

Speaking of the Homestead, it is at the center from the middle of the photo to the left, where a dark green line is quite visible.  Looking just above a stand of dark green trees just left of center are a couple of white buildings.  These are the Workman House and a garage (still at the museum) on the Homestead property.  In the 1940s, the Homestead was occupied by the El Encanto Sanitarium, operated by the Harry and Lois Brown family.  El Encanto still operates just to the north of the museum today.

As for the farm land south of the Stafford mill and Puente and north of the hills, much of this is part of today’s City of Industry, where light manufacturing and warehousing have driven much of the local economy for the last six decades.

Come back next Tuesday for another post related to the city’s 60th anniversary in the “Time Capsule Tuesday” series.

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