by Paul R. Spitzzeri
For map aficionados and researchers, among the best sources for seeing the development of areas like Los Angeles in the early 20th century are the several editions of Baist’s Real Estate Atlas, which provide such details as the construction materials used in buildings, identification of tract and subdivision names along with lot numbers and sizes, location of rail and streetcar lines, and much else.
Tonight’s featured artifact from the Homestead’s collection is Plate 27 of the Surveys of Los Angeles in the Baist atlas of 1921 and featuring areas of Los Angeles including the neighborhoods of Cypress Park, Lincoln Heights and Montecito Heights. These sections grew dramatically in the early part of the century and the map definitely shows this in its coverage from North Broadway at the south, just above Avenue 43, and Glen Albyn Drive near the Southwest Museum and out to Cypress Avenue and North San Fernando Road at the north and northwest, the Los Angeles River on the west, and city limits and Rose Hill and Debs parks on the east.
At the bottom right of the map where Broadway terminates at Mission Road, which then becomes Huntington Drive, we see such landmarks as Abraham Lincoln High School, which began as Avenue 21 grammar school in the late 1870s, just several years after the community of East Los Angeles was founded as the first suburb within Los Angeles city limits. The high school was eventually rebuilt because of significant damage from the Long Beach earthquake of 1933, while the community name was changed, in 1917, to Lincoln Heihgts.
Note, as well, the former City Reservoir Number 5, east of Mission Road about where the headquarters of Forever 21 headquarters is now. Meanwhile, the steep hills near the high school are shown as four parcels totaling over 80 acres and, above that the Rose Hill Court Tract. Just above that is the Baroness Tract with Boundary Avenue at the edge of the map—today, Rose Hill Park is on the east side of that street, while the tract is the lower, or southern, end of Debs Regional Park. The map shows streets and lots in this parkland area, including such of the former as Yorba, Colusa, Sinova and Paige, with only portions of the latter two roads now to the west in Montecito Heights.
Most of the streets in that hilly section of Montecito Heights do not have names assigned to them on the document, although Montecito Drive, with its dashed lines running through it, can easily be made out, with Sinova shown as Lot G and Paige as Lot F, while Elderbank and Evadale drives are designated as Lot E, to give some examples of streets that were later specified. Tract 1198 is the hilly location where the private venue Station LA is situated.
Along the east bank of the Arroyo Seco at the top of the map is the Montecito Park Tract and, below that, the Whitaker Tract. Running through both is the California Cycle Way, part of an elevated wooden bicycle that was built along the Arroyo and, remarkably, the right-of-way can be made out as a green band when looking at the area via the satellite view on Google Maps. At the south end of Homer Street, which has “Gordon” as a parenthetical, is today’s Heritage Square Museum, but the map shows that the Pacific Gravel Company operated at that site.
Above that on the map and on the west side of the Arroyo is the Sycamore Grove Tract, named for the well-known pleasure grounds that were established in the 1870s when the area was a retreat in the country for Los Angeles residents. The tract is identified as between Avenues 36 and 44, south to north, and Carlota Boulevard and Pasadena Avenue, east to west, though part of Pasadena became Figueroa Street about where it met Avenue 39. Several lots at Avenue 43 and Carlota comprised the property of Charles F. Lummis, editor of The Land of Sunshine/Out West magazine, Los Angeles city librarian and founder of the Southwest Museum, which is off the map at the top center. Of course, the 110 Freeway, formerly the Arroyo Seco Parkway, wends along the watercourse now.
Towards the upper left are such tracts as Grandview Terrace and Highland View in the Mt. Washington neighborhood, with some of the streets still present. At the bottom of the hills are Ulysses, James and Beech streets along with Glen Albyn and Mt. Washington drives. On the west Isabel Street divides Mt. Washington from Cypress Park. though it does curve into the former community and terminates at Avenue 37, which then ascended as Etta Street, a small segment of which still exists.
At the top left corner, from Pepper Street to the south(east) and Arvia Street on the north(west) are a number of (south)west to (north)east thoroughfares that still exist as on the map, including the two named above, as well as Granada, Alice, Loosmore, Maceo (though from Cypress Avenue to the river it was Cottage Avenue as part of the Cottage Home Tract), Thorpe and Carleton. A few changed, including, mercifully, Sulphur Street, which became the much improved Roseview Avenue; Lorraine, which from Cypress to the river became Merced; and Elthea, which from Cypress (north)east was renamed Thorpe.
Toward the center of the left edge, between Cypress and San Fernando and where Avenue 28 used to terminate at Idell Street was the extensive car barn of the Los Angeles Railway, which covered all of the city with streetcar service and which is where the Metro Division 3 complex is today. Between Avenue 27 and San Fernando adjacent to the car barn was a tract with three blocks, but this is now Cypress Park and the Cypress Recreation Center.
Between the car barn and the Arroyo Seco are several tracts, including Jeffries, Idell, Specht and the Dayton Avenue Home, with Dayton Avenue later renamed Figueroa Street, and leading to the confluence of the Arroyo with the Los Angeles River. This is where the Portolá Expedition of 1769, the first European migration through California, camped in the summer as it made its way north. Also of note was the “Pigeon Ranch” next to the Southern Pacific railroad line, which had and now is, under the ownership of the Union Pacific, a large yard along San Fernando and the River. The Los Angeles Pigeon Farm, as it was commonly called, had an interesting history, but was wiped out by flooding in 1914.
At the lower left corner, south of the Arroyo and west of the river are tracts like Hamilton, Hayden Street, Cape View, Mark Felt and Los Angeles Infirmary, where, as now, this section was commercial and industrial. Identified businesses include the Bradford Baking Company, Continental Refineries Company, Pacific Sewer Pipe, Los Angeles Can Company, W.P. Fuller Glass and Paints, the East Side Canning Works, a piano factory, a wine distributor, and Ganahl Lumber Company, this latter still in existence. Also in this section was a Los Angeles Fire Department fire house and motor shop and the East Side station of the Los Angeles Police Department. Through part of this area runs Interstate 5 before it turns, just after the interchange with the 110, and crosses the river to the west.
At the lower center of the map are sections of Lincoln Heights between North Broadway and parts of Pasadena closer to the river up to the Arroyo, There are many tracts here, including those of founder John S. Griffin and associated and denoted as East Los Angeles, Victor Ponet, Jacobus, Augustine, Dickinson and Carr, Foothill, Meadow Glen and Daly Street. Among notable locales in this area was the Truelove Home of The Salvation Army, the site of which is now the Los Angeles Leadership Academy. Commercial corridors were (and are) along Broadway, while other main thoroughfares were (and are) Griffin and Pasadena avenues.
Also of note in this section is the rail line of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe, along which now runs the Metro Gold line between Boyle Heights through downtown Los Angeles and on to Pasadena and points eastward in the San Gabriel Valley. Following that line and then branching off a bit to the south before crossing it at Avenue 33 (just to the left was the well-known Bauer pottery works, while prized Batchelder tiles were made nearby where the Department of Water and Power is on Artesian Street) and then going across the Arroyo and along Cypress Avenue was the line of the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake.
This brief overview leaves out a great deal more detail of interest to lovers of maps and those interested in the areas covered, but hopefully gives a decent summary of some of the interesting aspects of this section of what had been a very rapidly expanding city of Los Angeles during the first few decades of the 20th century. Meanwhile, we’ll look to add more posts highlighting maps from the museum’s holdings in the “All Over the Map” series.