Friday, November 8, 2013

88 Suburbs In Search Of Their Names


Los Angeles County is quite a county. With a population of about 10 million, it's not only the most populous county in the United States, but it has more people than the entire nation of Sweden. It's home of America's aerospace and entertainment industries. It's home to the two largest ports in the U.S.. Los Angeles County has got it all: Mountains, beaches, deserts, even two islands and 88 incorporated cities.

Eighty-eight cities with eighty-eight distinct names (Okay, some of the names are similar). And what's in a name? A glimpse of the town's history, that's what. Many of the cities are named after the original Mexican-era ranchos, or even invented (i.e. gringo) Spanish. One is even in French. Some are named after the native Tongva or Chumash. Another is named after a Native American language from the Midwest. Some are named after saints. Others are named after the town's founders, or their native hometowns.  And a few are named after lofty, idyllic visions of what their founders wanted their city to eventually be.

So after much Militant research, here it is, the etymology of Los Angeles county's 88 cities, in alphabetical order:

Agoura Hills – Misspelling of French Basque settler Pierre Agourre.

Alhambra –Washington Irving’s book, “Tales of the Alhambra.”

Arcadia – Named by founder Lucky Baldwin, meaning “utopia” or “paradise,” which originated from the Greek region of Arcadia.

Artesia – The artesian wells found in the city.

Avalon – Referenced in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “Idylls of the King;” meant “Bright gem of the ocean” or “Beautiful isle of the blest.”

Azusa – Derived from the Tongva village Asuksagna (“Place of the water”).

Baldwin Park – Founded by Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin.

Bell – Founded by James George Bell.

Bell Gardens – Nearby Bell and the farms developed by Japanese gardeners.

Bellflower – Anglicized version of the Bellefleur apples that grew in local orchards.

Beverly Hills – After Beverly Farms, Massachusetts and the Santa Monica Mountain foothills.

Bradbury – Founded by Louis Leonard Bradbury.

Burbank – Founded by dentist and land developer Dr. David Burbank.

Calabasas – From Spanish word “Calabaza” (pumpkin).

CarsonJohn Manuel Carson, developer and head of Dominguez Water Corporation, grandson of Don Manuel Dominguez.

Cerritos – Nearby Rancho Los Cerritos (Spanish for “Little Hills”).

Claremont – Name arbitrarily given by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway for a train station

Commerce – Chosen in the late 1940s by community leaders to encourage...well...commerce (If they only knew there would be gambling casinos...).

Compton – Land pioneer Griffith Dickenson Compton, who donated much of his land to incorporate city.

Covina – Named by engineer Fred Eaton (who eventually became Los Angeles Mayor and conceptualized the Los Angeles Aqueduct) after the San Gabriel Mountain valleys, which formed a natural “COVE” around the local “VINE”yards.

Cudahy – Founded by Irish immigrant and meat packer Michael Cudahy.

Culver City – Founded by real estate developer Harry H. Culver.

Diamond Bar – Named by ranch owner Frederick E. Lewis for the "Diamond-Over-A-Bar" cattle branding iron design, which he registered in 1918.

Downey – Founded by former California governor John Gately Downey, a land developer.

Duarte – After Mexican rancho grantee Corporal Andres Duarte.

El Monte – Old Spanish name for “meadow” or “marsh.”

El Segundo – Invented Spanish for “The second” Standard Oil refinery on the West Coast.

Gardena – Invented Spanish reference for area’s reputation as the only dry-season garden/green spot found between Los Angeles and the sea.

Glendale – Named by local residents, meaning “valley valley.”

Glendora – Founder George Whitcomb combined the “glen” (valley) where he lived, with the name of his wife Leadora.

Hawaiian Gardens – Named in reference to a bamboo shack refreshment stand that opened in 1927 on Carson and Norwalk boulevards, that was decorated to resemble a Hawaiian garden.

Hawthorne – Named by the daughter of town’s co-founder Benjamin Harding; she shared the same birthday with author Nathaniel Hawthorne (OMG, really?!).

Hermosa Beach – Spanish for “beautiful.”

Hidden Hills – Named by developer A.E. Hanson, who also developed Rolling Hills; location is “hidden” between the San Fernando and Simi valleys.

Huntington Park – Founded by Pacific Electric Railway's Henry Huntington.

Industry – Named by city boosters to promote industry; incorporated to avoid being annexed by neighboring cities for tax revenue.

Inglewood – Named after founder Daniel Freeman’s hometown of Inglewood, Ontario, Canada.

Irwindale – A Mr. Irwin who used the town’s first gas-powered water pump to bring a water supply to the community. His daughter’s name was Dale.

La Cañada Flintridge – From Mexican-era Rancho La Cañada, and Flintridge, named after developer and former U.S. Senator Frank P. Flint.

La Habra Heights – From Mexican-era Rancho La Habra (mountain pass).

La Mirada – Invented Spanish – “The Look.”

La Puente – After Rancho La Puente - Old Spanish for “The Bridge” (The Gaspar de Portola Expedition built a bridge over San Jose Creek).

La Verne – French for “growing green” or “spring-like.”

Lakewood – Named after the Lakewood Country Club, established 21 years before the city’s incorporation.

Lancaster – After Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Lawndale – Named by landowner Charles B. Hopper after Lawndale, Illinois.

Lomita – Spanish for “little hill.”

Long Beach - Named after the “Long Beach Land & Water Company” who bought land and incorporated the name “Long Beach,” a double-reference to the beach's length and Long Beach, New York.

Los Angeles - Oh come on, you should know this one already.

Lynwood – Named after Lynne Wood Sessions, wife of dairyman and major land owner Charles H. Sessions.

Malibu – Derived from Chumash village Humaliwo (“The surf sounds loudly”).

Manhattan Beach – Named in 1902 by land developer Stewart Merrill after his hometown of Manhattan, New York; “Beach” was added 25 years later.

Maywood – Named after May Wood, woman who worked for the real estate company that owned much of city’s land.

Monrovia – Named after founder and rancher, William Norton Monroe.

Montebello – Spanish for “Beautiful mountain;” named by William Mulholland who also engineered that city’s water system.

Monterey Park – Named after the nearby Monterey Hills, which were named after Pennsylvania’s Monterey Pass, site of a major Civil War battle.

Norwalk – Named after the “North Walk” path the Anaheim Branch Railroad crossed. The railroad named their station “Norwalk.”

Palmdale - Originally named Palmenthal (“palm valley”) by Swiss/German Lutheran settlers who mistook Joshua trees for palms.

Palos Verdes Estates – From Mexican-era Rancho de los Palos Verdes (“Ranch of the green sticks” – with “sticks” referring to trees).

Paramount – Named after Paramount Boulevard, meaning “important.”

Pasadena – Chippewa Native American for “Crown Of The Valley,” suggested by settler Dr. Thomas Elliot, who was recommended the name from a missionary friend from the Midwest who worked with Native American tribes.

Pico Rivera – Named after Mexican California governor Pio Pico, and the local confluence of the Rio Hondo and San Gabriel rivers.

Pomona – Named by horticulturist Solomon Gate, who won a contest to name the town. Named after the Roman goddess of fruit.

Rancho Palos Verdes – See Palos Verdes Estates.

Redondo Beach – Named after Mexican-era Rancho Sausal Redondo (“Round Willow Grove Ranch”), a reference to the round shape of the original rancho property.

Rolling Hills – After the rolling Palos Verdes Hills.

Rolling Hills Estates – See Rolling Hills.

Rosemead – Named by town pioneer Leonard J. Rose, who named his horse ranch, “Rose Meadow,” which later became “Rosemeade.”

San Dimas – Spanish for St. Dismas, the Biblical figure who was the repentant criminal that was crucified alongside Christ.

San Fernando – Named after Mission San Fernando Rey de España (“St. Ferdinand, King of Spain”).

San Gabriel – Named after Mission San Gabriel Archangel (“St. Gabriel the Archangel”).

San Marino – Named by founder James DeBarth Shorb after his grandfather’s plantation in Maryland, which was named after the small European republic of San Marino, which was named after Saint Marinus, a 4th-century monk.

Santa Clarita – Invented Spanish for “Little Santa Clara.” Named after the nearby Santa Clara River, but intentionally differentiated from the northern California city of Santa Clara.

Santa Fe Springs – Named after the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway which ran through town, and the local artesian springs.

Santa Monica – Named by Father Juan Crespi, who, upon arriving at Kuruvugna Springs (at modern-day University High School’s campus), thought the waters reminded him of the tears of Saint Monica.

Sierra Madre – Spanish for “mother mountain range,” the original name of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Signal Hill – Named after the hill that was traditionally used by the Tongva for smoke signal communication with the island village of Pimugna (Catalina Island).

South El Monte – See El Monte.

South Gate – Originally named “South Gate Gardens” - a reference to its location on the old Cudahy Ranch.

South Pasadena – See Pasadena.

Temple City – Founded by land owner Walter P. Temple. Originally named “Temple,” but U.S. Postmaster General wanted to avoid confusion (in the pre-ZIP code era) with Tempe, Arizona.

Torrance – Founded by land developer Jared Sydney Torrance.

Vernon – Named after Vernon Avenue, which was named after the French town of Vernon.

Walnut – Named after Rancho Los Nogales (“Walnut Ranch”).

West Covina – See Covina.

West HollywoodOriginally named “Sherman” after local electric railway tycoon Moses Sherman, who later called it “West Hollywood” to closely associate it with nearby Hollywood.

Westlake Village – Named after Westlake Lake, the westernmost lake (well, reservoir, really) in Los Angeles county (Their city government must have a Department of Redundancy Department).

Whittier – Founded by Quaker settlers who named it after their homeboy, poet John Greenleaf Whittier.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Party Like It's 1913: Happy 100th to an Aqueduct, a Museum, a Park!


You may or may not have known already that this has been an historic week in Los Angeles history. On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Aqueduct celebrated its 100th anniversary, noting the completion of the 238-mile long water transit system from the Eastern Sierras (which The Militant hopes to visit one day soon!) and enabled Los Angeles to grow over 10 times its size in the next century.

Today, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (originally called the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art) and its adjoining Exposition Park (formerly known as Agricultural Park) celebrates their 100th anniversary too, having opened on November 6, 1913. 


Its opening date right after the Los Angeles Aqueduct was not coincidental at all -- in fact, people who attended the Aqueduct's opening celebration and saw the water arrive were encouraged to visit the museum's opening the next day, and watch the final arrival of the water as it reached the City's water system and created the fountain at the center of the central sunken garden (now today's Rose Garden).

What you may or may not have known was that there was an even grander plan to have a neo-Romanesque 100-foot-tall Los Angeles Aqueduct Memorial placed in Exposition Park (pictured left) in 1913, but the plan was too costly, so they settled for a simple fountain.

Today, there is also an exhibit on the Aqueduct: Just Add Water, a series of Aqueduct-themed art in watercolor by artist Rob Reynolds, began this week and runs until August 3 of next year. 

The park was conceived as part of the "City Beautiful Movement" sweeping cities across the U.S. in the early 1900s, where monumental buildings and cultural institutions were established to further promote 20th century urbanism at the time. Many cities like San Francisco and San Diego hosted expositions, and Expo Park, although never having hosted a World's Fair or formal exposition, was part of that trend. Exposition, like today's Grand Park, was re-modeled and re-branded from the old Agricultural Park and opened with the museum, as well as a National Guard Armory and an Exposition Building (which became the California Museum of Science an Industry, now California ScienCenter).

The museum has changed and grown over the years; the art component spun-off into its own museum in the early 1960s as LACMA on the county-owned Rancho La Brea property, and the adjacent George C. Page Museum in the 1970s.

Today, the Museum still has totally awesome exhibits like Becoming Los Angeles, the Nature Lab and of course the dinos. And Exposition Park is the only park in the country with a stadium that has hosted two Olympics and is home to a freaking Space Shuttle in it!

Happy 100th to our Aqueduct, our Natural History Museum and our Exposition Park! 


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Oh Well.



Still a great season though. See you in April!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Happy 90th Birthday To The Vista Theatre!

The Vista Theatre, then and now: 90 years from Baby Peggy to Sandra Bullock.

Today is the 90th birthday of everybody's favorite old-school theatre - The Vista Theatre, which opened on October 9, 1923 and showed the silent film (well, they were all silent back in the day), Tips (which was filmed locally at the Ambassador Hotel), starring child actress Baby Peggy (who is still alive today at 94). Back then, the theatre was called Bard's East Hollywood Playhouse, one of a chain of local theaters owned by Lou Bard, who also operated a number of theatres in Downtown Los Angeles (The College Theatre, the 8th Street Theatre and the Olympic Theatre). If you look above the marquee in the ornate center window, you can see the letter "B" monogrammed at the top. The "B" stands for "Bard's" (And speaking of "B," B-movie director Ed Wood once had his office behind that window).

Even before it opened, The Vista was literally sitting on Hollywood history: Just across the street was D.W. Griffith's Fine Arts Studio, which stood from 1914 to the early 1960s as a Columbia Pictures facility before being burned down in a fire (the lot is now the Vons Hollywood supermarket). The block where The Vista now stands was the ginormous Babylonian movie set for the 1916 film Intolerance. As you may or may not know, the Babylonian movie set was the architectural inspiration for the Hollywood and Highland shopping center, just 3 miles down the street. The set was torn down in 1919, the property sold and subivided and The Vista was built on the corner of Sunset and Hillhurst. And Hollywood. And Virgil. And Sunset Drive.

In the early 1920s, the discovery of King Tut's treasures in Egypt caused Egyptomania to flood American popular culture. Among them was the construction of Graumann's Egyptian Theatre (now the home of American Cinematheque). Yes, people Walked Like An Egyptian years before The Bangles were even born!

The Vista was no exception. Though the facade was Spanish Revival in design, the interior had a decidedly Egyptian theme. Word to your mummy.

The monogrammed "B" atop the center window above the marquee stands for "Bard" - the original name and owner of the Vista Theatre. 
Aside from silent films, the 838-seat capacity theatre also lived up to its Playhouse name by hosting Vaudeville performances (totally old school).

Over the years, cinema evolved into various forms from the single-screen, architecturally ornate style of cinema venue form the early days of movies. Sound was introduced, screens got bigger, theatres got larger, screens got even bigger, multiplexes emerged, sound GOT REALLY LOUDER, movies went digital, they went 3-D, and screens got even more ginormous.

But The Vista held on to its old-school, single screen flavor. After a period in the 1960s-1980s The Vista was more (in)famous for ghetto second- and third- run screenings (Though for a time it was popular in '80s-era hipsterness as the Friday night midnight screening venue for The Rocky Horror Picture Show). In 1993 it was purchased by Five Star Theatres (now Vintage Cinemas) who gave it a major restoration from 1997 to 2000. Today it shows first-run pictures (like Gravity starring Sandra Bullock), giving moviegoers an old-school option from the multiplexed-3D-THX-really nasty overpriced popcorn experience of modern cinema.

The theatre isn't doing any 90th-anniversary events, but do stop by to give this old classic a b-day greeting. Maybe in its big Centennial in 2023, we can be treated to a screening of Intolerance and Tips (hopefully Baby Peggy will still be around then) for old time's sake.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Militant's Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour 6.0 (Or 2.02)!!!!!!



Wel, well, well, we meet again. Time for another wonderful day of sun and smiles, and our third CicLAvia this year. The Militant returns again for yet another Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour, though we may or may not have been to these places before. The Militant has added a few new points of interest, so don't pass this up if you've followed his Epic Militant CicLAvia Tours before.

This route is more or less a mashup of previous routes from last year, which further convolutes The Militant's naming conventions for this particular route. Oh well, it may or may not be the 6th version of the CicLAvia route -- or is it just a variation of the second one? It don't matter. Check it out, check out the sites, spend your dough on food trucks or local businesses, and don't forget your sunscreen. See you or not see you on Sunday!

Note: Though The Militant likes to view the route from west to east for some reason, he has listed these sites from East to West, as some of the sites are related and make a little more sense when going that direction.

East-West Route (Boyle Heights to Mac Arthur Park)

1. Eastside Luv
2006 (Built 1940)
1835 E. 1st St, Boyle Heights

One of The Militant's favorite hangouts in the Eastside, this bar, started by a bunch of friends who grew up in nearby City Terrace, took over the former Metropolitan bar six years ago and updated it to a more contemporary Eastside-style flavor. Don't call it gentrification, call it gentefication.

2. Mariachi Plaza
1889
1st St and Boyle Ave, Boyle Heights

This is the new town square for Boyle Heights, anchored by the historic 1889 Boyle Hotel on the historic Cummings Block, where Mariachi musicians have been hanging out to get picked up for since the 1930s. The Kiosko, or bandstand, that sits in the plaza is actually not that historic. It was given as a gift from the Mexican state of Jalisco, who literally shipped it over in 1998 where it was assembled in place. But it only gets used once a year for the Santa Cecilia Festival around every November 21.
The plaza is also home of the Metro Gold Line station of the same name, which opened in 2009. The unique lending library Libros Schmibros relocated here last year. This place could warrant a Militant blog post in itself -- no, an entire week of posts! Don't miss the Farmers Market events there every Friday and Sunday!

3. Simon Gless Farmhouse
1887
131 S. Boyle Ave., Boyle Heights

Back in the totally radical '80s...That's the 1880s, Boyle Heights was an open, rural area and French Basque immigrant Simon Francois Gless built a Queen Anne style house on his sheepherding farm at this location. Today, the house is a City Historic Cultural Monument and is a home that's rented out to -- Mariachi musicians! Just a few blocks west of here is Gless Street, and you might have heard of Simon's great-granddaughter -- actress Sharon Gless, who starred in the series Cagney and Lacey, which aired a century after her arrière-grand-père first settled in Boyle Heights.

4. Neighborhood Music School
1947 (Built 1890s)
358 S. Boyle Ave, Boyle Heights

The Neighborhood Music School is exactly what it is. But it's also a Boyle Heights institution. Originally founded 98 years ago when it was located on Mozart Street (orchestral rimshot), the school moved to this Victorian home in 1947 where it still offers music lessons to local youth and the public can drop by on weekends to attend free recital concerts.

5. Keiro Retirement Home/Jewish Home For The Aging
1974/1916
325 S. Boyle Ave, Boyle Heights

With Boyle Heights being a historically Jewish and Japanese community, how's this for an ultimate Boyle Heights institution? This property was originally built in 1916 as the Jewish Home for the Aging (now operating in Reseda), and in 1974, the Keiro Senior Health Care organization, basically their Japanese American counterpart. With the Hollenbeck Palms retirement home just down the street (and site of the John Edward Hollenbeck Estate, remember?) Boyle is a popular corridor for Senior Livin.'

6. Metro Division 20 Subway Car Yard & Site of Old Santa Fe LaGrande Station
1992 / 1893
320 S. Santa Fe Ave (visible from the 4th Street Viaduct), Arts District

Take a break from riding/walking/skateboarding/pogo-sticking/etc. and take a glance off the north side of the bridge from the west bank of the River. This facility is where the 104 Italian-built subway cars of the Metro Red and Purple line cars are stored, repaired, serviced and cleaned. This was also the temporary storage and repair site of the Angels Flight railway cars after the fateful 2001 accident. The Militant actually visited this facility back in May 1992.

The subway cars are also serviced on the site of the old Santa Fe Railway La Grande Station (hence the name of the street) that was on Santa Fe and 2nd. Built in 1893, it was precisely where midwestern transplants arrived in Los Angeles after paying their $1 train ticket from Chicago. In 1933, the landmark dome was damaged by the Long Beach Earthquake and subsequently removed. In 1939, it was rendered obsolete by the opening of the new Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal a few blocks north.

7. Site of Quaker Dairy, Original Little Tokyo Restaurant
1890
304 E. 1st St., Little Tokyo
On the southeast corner of 1st and San Pedro streets once stood the Quaker Dairy, a restaurant started on this site in 1890 by Sanshichi Akita, an immigrant from Japan. Though preceded five years earlier by another restaurant on First St (location unknown), this is the oldest traceable location of a Little Tokyo business. By the end of the 19th century, there were over 16 Japanese-owned restaurants in this stretch of 1st Street, creating what we know as Little Tokyo.

8. Los Angeles Sister Cities Monument
Circa late 1980s
1st and Main streets, Downtown

On the northeast corner of 1st and Main streets stands a pole bearing signs (in the "Blue Blade" style, no less) for every one of Los Angeles' 25 Sister Cities, each pointing towards their location. The signs range from Lusaka, Zambia (the farthest sister city, 10,017 miles) to Vancouver, Canada (the nearest, 1,081 miles) and everywhere in between. Nagoya, Japan is Los Angeles' oldest sister city (1959); Yerevan, Armenia is the newest (2007). Los Angeles, an Olympic host city (1932, 1984) also has that in common with sister cities Athens (1896, 2004), Berlin (1936), Mexico City (1968) and Vancouver (2010). Okay, the Militant is just filling up this paragraph with mindless trivia.

9. New Los Angeles City "Chevy Logo" Street Signs
2009
Various locations along 1st Street, Downtown

Speaking of Blue Blades, and since you're on 1st Street, don't forget to see Los Angeles' new street signs! Featuring a reflective background and typeface, the City Seal and shaped like the Chevrolet logo, these were the subject of The Militant's now-legendary recent post on Los Angeles street signs. Now you can see them for yourself!

10. Los Angeles Police Administration Building
2009
100 W. 1st St, Downtown

Having opened less than two years ago, there's nothing really historic about this building, but do stop and take a picture of City Hall's reflection from the facade's glass panel. It's like, the thing to do.



11. Old State Office Building Foundation
1931 (Demolished 1971)
1st and Spring streets, Downtown
Ever wonder about that park-like area across the street from City Hall, and why there appears to be a foundation but no building? It was once the site of the State Office Building (pictured left, looking north on Spring), which was built in 1931. Forty years later, the 6.4 Sylmar Earthquake rendered it unsafe, and it was demolished. The land was once an openly-accessible parkspace; the Militant remembers going to a demonstration there as a child (Oh this Militant stuff sure started early...)

• If heading on north leg towards Chinatown, skip to #22.

12. Site of the Wilcox Building, First National Bank
1896
2nd and Spring streets, Downtown

Remember Mr. Hollenbeck? He be makin' serious bank! Oh wait, he literally did. As was mentioned, he founded a bank called the First National Bank of Los Angeles, which made its original home here on the southeast corner of 2nd and Spring in what once stood the Wilcox Building. Check this out: First National Bank merged with the Farmers and Merchants Bank to become the Security-First National Bank, which became Security Pacific National Bank (1967), and was eventually purchased by Bank of America in the 199os.

13. Site of Hollenbeck Hotel
1884
2nd and Spring streets, Downtown

Man, this Hollenbeck dude got around! We're not quite through with him yet. Directly across Spring Street from the bank (on what is now a parking lot) stood the Hollenbeck Hotel, a pretty swanky, bougie inn back in the day. He owned not just the hotel, the entire block the hotel stood on (He sooo money!). As more hotels were being built in Downtown, this one eventually lost ground to its competitors and was demolished in 1933.

14. Site of Original Ralphs Supermarket
1873
6th and Spring streets, Downtown

Before the Hotel Hayward building was built in 1905, George A. Ralphs (see, that's why there's no apostrophe) and his brother Walter B. started the Ralphs Bros. Grocers on the southwest corner of 6th and Spring. Their company still continues to this day, and in 2007, the company that started in DTLA returned to the area after some 50 years.

• If heading on south leg towards South Los Angeles, skip to #26.

15. St. Vincent Court
1868
St. Vincent Ct and 7th Street, Downtown

You'd hardly knew it was there, but this alley nestled between Broadway and Hill (blink and you'll miss it!), with its decorative brick pavement and European decor, seemingly belongs to another world. Originally the site of a Catholic college that was the predecessor of today's Loyola Marymount University, today it's a unique food court featuring Armenian and Middle Eastern eateries. The Militant calls it, "Littler Armenia." Check out this Militant Angeleno post on St. Vincent Court from 2008 for more info!


16. Wilshire Grand Hotel Site
2017
Wilshire and Figueroa (SW corner), Downtown

Up until several months ago on that empty lot was the Wilshire Grand Hotel, formerly (in reverse chronological order) the Omni Hotel, Los Angeles Hilton, Statler Hilton and Statler Hotel.

On this site will rise Los Angeles' (and the West's -- suck on it, Transbay Tower SF!) tallest building at 73 stories and 1,100 feet (kinda sorta, there's a spire, you see...). It will also be Los Angeles' only modern skyscraper without a flat roof. It will house Wilshire Grand Hotel 2.0 and a bunch of shops and condos.

The building will also have a "sky lobby" up at the top and will be the first skyscraper anywhere to sport a mohawk.




17. City View Lofts/Young's Market Company Building
1924
1610 w. 7th St., Pico-Union

Ever wondered what's the deal with this 4-story Italian Renaissance-style building? It was built in 1924 as a liquor warehouse and original headquarters for Young's Market Company, which still operates today as the largest liquor distributor in the West. This building features actual marble columns and a decorative frieze made of terra cotta. The company, in the roaring, pre-depression 1920s, just felt like it. The building was looted and burned in the 1992 Riots and was rehabbed in 1997 to become the City View lofts. The building is in the National Register of Historic Places.

18. Gen. Douglas MacArthur Monument
1955
Southeast corner of MacArthur Park, Westlake

It's sort of strange how a monument to the park's namesake seems almost invisible (Gen John Pershing, MacArthur's WWI counterpart, could totally identify). In fact, most people don't know it's even there, but on the southeast shore of the lake is a dormant memorial fountain featuring a statue of the WWII general overlooking a model of the Pacific theatre (no, not that one) where he led allied forces to eventual victory. It was designed and built in 1955 by Roger Noble Burnham, who previously sculpted the Tommy Trojan statue on the USC campus and taught at the Otis Art School, formerly located nearby.

Northern Route (To Chinatown):


19. Grand Park
1960, 2012
Open space between Grand Avenue and Spring Street, Downtown

Grand Park isn't really a new park, but a renovation and re-branding of what used to be the Los Angeles County Mall.  Since then, it's become Los Angeles' new town square, hosting everything from concerts, to festivals, to weekend movie screenings, to holiday programs, to just a place where kids can splash around in the fountain. The Militant was there on its opening day back in July 2012!

20. Hall Of Justice
1926
Temple Street and Broadway, Downtown

No, you won't find Superman or any of the Super Friends here.  But this building, the oldest surviving government building in the Los Angeles Civic Center, was built in the mid-1920s as the original Los Angeles County Courthouse and Central Jail (which once housed the likes of Busy Siegel, Sirhan Sirhan and Charles Manson), as well as the headquarters for the Sheriff's Office, the District Attorney and the County Coroner. This Beaux Arts-style building was designed by Allied Architects Association, an all-star team of local architects put together to design publicly-funded buildings. At the moment, its facade is covered in scaffolding and tarp, as part of a major renovation project to modernize the facilities and repair damage from the 1994 Northridge Earthquake. It is slated to re-open as a LEED Gold Certified building (gotta be sustainable, y'all) in 2015, and the Sheriff's and District Attorney's offices will return.


21. Site of Los Angeles' French Quarter
c. 1830s-1960s
Aliso Street and Arcadia Street, Downtown

Beleive it or non, Los Angeles had a French ethnic enclave, called The French Quarter. Before today's Hollywood Freeway trench and nearby parking lots was a bustling community of Franco-American businesses and institutions. When Frenchman Jean-Louis Vignes bought up land on the Yangna village site a few blocks east on Aliso Street, he essentially became the anchor of our French community. In 1912, businessman Marius Taix opened the Champ D'Or Hotel on Commercial Street and then opened his namesake restaurant in the same building in 1927. But the most famous constibution to our French Quarter was Philippe Mathieu's restaurant, which opened in various locations in the area. In 1918, his restaurant on 246 Aliso Street gave birth to The French Dip sandwich. But urban development (and cultural assimilation by the community) destroyed the French Quarter. In 1951, Philippe's moved a few blocks north to their present location on Alameda Street due to Hollywood Freeway construction, and Monsieur Taix's restaurant moved a decade later to Echo Park.

22. Chinatown Gateway Monument
2001
Broadway and Cesar E. Chavez. Avenue, Chinatown

Designed to be the symbolic entrance to Los Angeles' Chinatown District, The Chinatown Gateway Monument, a.k.a. the Twin Dragon Towers Gateway, depicts two dragons grabbing at a central pearl, which symbolizes luck, prosperity, and longevity. The 25-foot-tall structure was put up in 2001 and occasionally emanates steam coming from the dragons' mouths. Unlike Anglo dragons, the creatures in Chinese folklore are the good guys, meant to scare away evil spirits.

23.  Buu Dien
c. 1990s
642 N. Broadway (Facing New High St, south of Ord), Chinatown

If you're ever in some TV trivia contest on your way to being a millionaire and the host asks you, "What is the Militant Angeleno's favorite Vietnamese banh mi place west of the Los Angeles River?" you won't need to call a lifeline, because the answer is Buu Dien. When the Militant has only $4 in his pocket and wants to get a meal in Downtown, this is his go-to joint. A literal hole in the wall in every regard, this place serves bomb-ass (do people still use that phrase) Viet sammiches for less than $3 a pop. And the bread is awesome. And nice and warm. Plus they also serve up spring rolls, desserts, pastries, Vietnamese coffee and pho (never had it here yet, but The Militant's favorite pho WOTLAR is Pho 79 just up the street). People complain about parking in his micro-mini mall, but this is CicLAvia!

24. Capitol Milling Co.
1883
1231 N. Spring St, Chinatown

One of the last visible vestiges of Los Angeles' agricultural industry, this family-owned flour mill operated from 1831 to 1997, before moving its operation to a much larger facility in Colton. The facility that still stands today was built in 1883. The mill supplied flour to clients such as Ralphs, Foix French Bakery and La Brea Bakery. In 1999, the family-owned operation was purchased by industry giant Con-Agra Co.


The historic building, built even before the railroads arrived in Los Angeles, still has a horse-tethering ring, back to the days when grain was hauled by horse carriage from farms in the San Fernando Valley.


25. Old (New?) Chinatown Central Plaza
1937
Gin Ling Way between Broadway and Hill, Chintown

The new northern terminus of CicLAvia is no stranger to public events; it was made for them. In the Summer it hosted three very popular Chinatown Summer Nights events. But don't let the "Old Chinatown" neon sign fool you -- This is actually Los Angeles' new Chinatown, which dates back to the 1930s. The real Old Chinatown was several blocks south, where a thriving community of Cantonese-speaking immigrants

lived near the river, north of Aliso Street. Of course, they were kicked out in the early '30s to make room for Union Station. So they moved a few blocks north, in the former Little Italy, and they've been there ever since. Well, not really, since some of them moved east to the San Gabriel Valley and were supplemented with Mandarin-speaking immigrants from Taiwan and Mainland China. But you get the idea.

Southern Route (To South Los Angeles):

26. The I.N. Van Nuys Building
1911
210 W. 7th St (at Spring), Downtown

A 100-year old, 11-story Classical-style building built by banker and landowner Isaac Newton Van Nuys (who owned much of the San Fernando Valley, including his eponymous community). Designated as a Historic Cultural Landmark (#898) in 2007, what was once Los Angeles' most expensive office building ($1.25 million in 1911 dollars) was converted to senior housing. Do check out its unique parking structure, at 719-721 S. Spring St.

27. Great Republic Life Insurance Building
1927
756 S. Spring St., Downtown

The Militant just loves old buildings with their names imprinted on their front and ornate bas-relief designs in the upper financial floors. This 13-story Beaux Arts style building is one of those, home to the Great Republic Life Insurance company, built right before the Great Dperession. This and many other financial institutions up and down Spring Street were part of the "Wall Street of the West." And since this is 2011, think of CicLAvia as #OccupyWallStreetOfTheWest. Today, it's home to the Great Republic Lofts.

28. National City Bank Building
1924
810 S. Spring St., Downtown

Another fine example of 1920s Beaux Arts architecture is the National City Bank (not to be confused with the City National Bank) Building. They just don't make 'em like this anymore. Today, it's home to the National City Tower Lofts.




29. ANJAC Fanshion Buildings
Built various years in the 20th Century
Various Locations along Broadway, Spring and Santee Streets, Downtown

The ANJAC Fashion Buildings (you'll see a whole bunch of 'em) are a collection of older buildings re-purposed for use as rented showroom, warehouse or manufacturing spaces for the local clothing industry. They're all owned by Steve Needleman, who also owns the nearby Orpheum Theatre. One of the ANJAC buildings on nearby Broadway was the site of an historic 3-week garment worker's strike in 1933 that  put Chicano organized labor on the map.

30. Spring/Main Junction 
c 1890s
Spring and Main Streets at 9th Street, Downtown

This very Manhattanesque portion of Downtown Los Angeles might not be The Great White Way, but it did serve as a junction point for both the Pacific Electric and Los Angeles Railway trolleys back in the day. The triangular park in the middle, recently ornamented with public art once served as a passenger platform for the streetcars. The building at the very tip of the corner, just north of it was once the local Anheuser Busch brewing company headquarters. More historical pics hereherehere and here.

31. Harris Newmark Building
1925
127 E. 9th St., Downtown

This 12-story building was at one time the tallest building in Los Angeles, built in honor of Harris Newmark, an early Los Angeles leader, businessman, landowner and philathropist. He helped to found the city of Montebello and helped shape Los Angeles' Jewish community through his leadership and charitable giving. It was once home to Sam's Deli, a local eatery institution that operated from 1963 to 2003. In the '90s, the building was carefully restored using the original blueprints. It now functions today as The New Mart (get it?) 

32. Security Pacific Bank(!)
c 1990s or 2000s
9th and Cecilia streets, Downtown

Now here's a sight that longtime Angelenos haven't seen in a long time - the interlocking "S" logo of Security Pacific National Bank. Once upon a time, there were actually large banks founded and headquartered in Los Angeles. Security Pacific, a major bank whose heritage dates back to 1868 was swallowed up by the big, evil Bank of America in 1992. The Militant discovered recently that this apparent vestige of days gone by is actually more recent, as a new but unrelated Security Pacific began in 2005 and went out of business just three years later (the bank space in this building is vacant and currently available for lease). Judging by the condition of the sign, this may or may not be the case.  

33. Dude, Where's My 9th Street?
1928
9th Street-Olympic Blvd at Ceres Ave.

Chalk this one up, along with the two San Vicente Boulevards, as one of the great street mysteries of Los Angeles. While heading east on 9th Street, the thoroughfare inexplicably becomes Olympic Boulevard, only to vanish into oblivion. Olympic, on the other hand, resurfaces west of San Julian and heads all the way Santa Monica's 5th Street. The Militant is only announcing this as a public service just so you won't think anyone was f'ing with your mind as you head east on 9th.

34. Central Market 
c 1930s
1227 E. Olympic Blvd, Downtown

This wholesale market operated in partial competition to the much larger wholesale market just a few blocks east, but it's in a supplementary role nowadays as a wholesale meat and poultry facility.

35. Los Angeles Wholesale Produce Market
1918, expanded in 1986
Central and Olympic Blvd, Downtown

Anyone who says Los Angeles, or even Downtown Los Angeles, isn't a 24-hour city, has obviously never been here. From about 2 a.m. to 2 p.m. (the action begins at 4 a.m. and ends before 10 a.m.), trucks roll up to unload fresh-from-the-farm produce in bulk for purchase. This market is mostly for supermarkets, distributors and restaurants, but anyone can purchase at the vendors here (you just have to take home a big-ass crate of apples rather than just a couple pounds). The Grand Central Market performed this role all but briefly before it was maxed out, and a new produce market, on 7th and Central was built closer to the railroad tracks in 1918. In 1986, the facility was expanded to what you see today. Check out this YouTube video of how the market looked like in 1963!

36. Yellow Car Tracks
c. early 1900s
12th Street at Central Avenue, Downtown

Look at the cracks and crevices in the street, just east of the crosswalk: TRACK! These tracks carried the Yellow Cars of the Los Angeles Railway's 2 Line, which ran from South Central through Downtown to the City Terrace area in The Eastside. Look carefully and you can see the old school inlaid brickwork in between the tracks! And unlike #26 above, the tracks are verified to be there!

1936
1334 S. Central Ave, Downtown

Coca-Cola has been locally bottled in Los Angeles since 1895, with about five different locations in the Downtown area throughout history. But this is by far the most recognizable. A ship-like design by Robert Derrah (who also crafted Hollywood's likewise-nautical-flavored Crossroads Of The World) makes this one of Los Angeles' most unique buildings. And they'll be handing out free Coke and related beverage samples!

38. African American Firefighter Museum (Fire Station 30)
1913, 1997
1401 S. Central Ave, Downtown

Originally built as LAFD fire station 30, it was one of two "Blacks Only" stations between 1924 and 1955, when the fire department was integrated and the station de-commissioned. In 1997 the building  was converted into a museum to celebrate the contributions of African Americans in the LAFD and to highlight the long and painful struggle to integration and racial equality. The LAFD of today has a black Fire Chief, which would never have been possible without the struggles, stories and service of the people recognized at this museum. Definitely check it out.



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The End Of An Era...


On Wednesday, September 25, 2013, the Dodgers played the hated San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Trailing 6-4, it was the top of the 9th, Adrian Gonzalez on 1st. Hanley Ramirez is at the plate, full count. Giants closer Sergio Romo throws, Ramirez grounds-out. The game is over.

The camera shows the Giants teammates congratulate each other on the field, and then the screen shows a montage of game highlights. Vin Scully bids all a "Good night." Then a short video segment of season highlights flash before the screen, with the above graphic displayed, then fades.

It was the end of an era.

Now in terms of this season, our Dodgers, having already clinched their National League West title, will go on to postseason play next week, and may or may not become World Champions by the time the month of October is done. But in terms of the team's 55-year history in Los Angeles, it was the sad ending of a longtime tradition in Los Angeles.

See, Wednesday's game was not only the last game of the season on KCAL, it was the last regular-season scheduled Dodger game to be shown on free broadcast television. Starting next year, all Dodger regular-season games will be shown on Time Warner Cable's new SportsNet LA, a team-owned cable TV channel that was the result of an $8.5 billion deal with the cable provider.

For those of you who are TWC subscribers, no big deal, You'll enjoy the 2014 season and beyond just like you always have. And for those who have other cable providers, depending on if they pony up the dough to TWC, they may or may not carry SportsNet LA. But for those of us (like The Militant) who do not have cable television...tough shiyat.

The Militant watched every inning of the game like a series finale. But this was bigger than your Dexter or Breaking Bad (shows The Militant never seen before 'cuz they on cable), this was a series that has been on local TV since 1958. The cast may change, the writing might be better some years than others (It's been really good this year - at least since late June...), but the premise and the setting are what draws him in year after year. And now, he can't watch his favorite show (The Militant doesn't really watch much else on TV, so "Just getting cable" isn't really justified).

Of course, this is not without precedent. The Lakers were the first local team to enter a deal with TWC. So, gone are the days of watching a Lakers game on broadcast television, where the likes of Kareem, Magic, Shaq and Kobe inspired the hoop dreams of many a Southland youth. Or even provided a means of entertainment for first-generation immigrants finding a way to connect with and integrate with mainstream culture.

The same goes for baseball fans. The Militant (and countless others) grew up watching Dodger games on KTTV 11 for decades, they were even more part of the Summertime pastime than going to the games, if you weren't privileged enough to have access to season tickets. Your day would even revolve around them. When The Militant was growing up, his ballpark hero was Steve Garvey. So even when he did go to the games, the TV broadcasts made the players the larger-than-life stars that we admired. When Fernandomania struck Los Angeles in the early 1980s, watching #34 on the mound on broadcast TV made many a kid in East Los Angeles or Echo Park look up to a hero that reminded them of themselves. Likewise when Hideo Nomo and Chan Ho Park played over a decade later, many in the Asian American community found their own ballpark heroes to look up to. When the games moved on to KCAL 9, we followed suit. It was the same Vin, same game, same team, same uniform and same tradition we've enjoyed in this City for over half a century already.

But sad to say, the babies born today, unless they're privileged enough to be born into a family with cable TV, won't be able to watch a Dodger game on television. They might not even get to see a game called by Vin Scully. Will they be interested in the Dodgers at all? Will they be interested in baseball at all (even the Angels games are all-cable now)? Will they be interested in sports at all, since the Lakers, Clippers and Kings and Galaxy also have all-cable coverage (Apparently, only the Anaheim Ducks and Chivas USA still have games on broadcast TV (both on OC's KDOC 56, and also KWHY 22 for the latter).

What kind of local fans will we have 20, 30, 40 years from now? Will they support the teams, admire the players, go to the games?

Of course, there's always the NFL games on Sunday and Monday...a sport without any teams that represent this city, hmph.

As far as the Dodgers, he'll have to do with the radio now. At least there's still Vin Scully to provide the mental imagery of the game...for the time being, at least.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Happy 10th Birthday, Metro Gold Line!

Remember "Discover Gold?"
A decade ago today, The Metro Gold Line, Los Angeles' first light rail line in the 21st Century opened on one hot Saturday. Originally planned as an extension of the Metro Blue Line to Pasadena, it's the only direct transportation link between the Los Angeles and Pasadena downtowns (The 110 Freeway ends short of it).

The Militant, who has yet to miss an opening day for a Metro Rail line, was there, and remembered waiting in a long-ass line that snaked around the Gateway Plaza parking garage (the one some of you park in to ride the Dodger Stadium Express bus to games). It took nearly forever, but The Militant got on his train, rode all the way to the Sierra Madre Villa station, where the celebration had already ended in the parking structure there, and headed back.

Old-school Gold Line vehicles, now since replaced with the silver/gray Italian-built Ansaldobreda trains.
A few things have changed since Opening Day; the original 13.5-mile line is now nearly 20 miles long, having been extended from Union Station to East Los Angeles back in 2009. Originally an under-performing line due to its apparent slowness (something the Expo Line knows all too well), it now carries over 42,500 riders per day. Also, the orange-striped white Siemens light rail vehicles no longer run on the line, having been moved to their new tours of duty on the Green, Expo and Blue lines. And a few of the stations have changed their names: Lincoln/Cypress (originally Lincoln Heights/Cypress Park), Heritage Square (originally French Ave), Highland Park (originally Avenue 57) and South Pasadena (originally Mission).

Long-ass lines that day in the parking structure!

The future's bright for the Gold Line: In just two years it will be extended even farther into the SGV, terminating in Azusa with a station near Azusa Pacific University and Citrus College (The Militant won't miss that one fo' sho!). And by the next decade, the line will function as it was originally planned, when the two-mile Regional Connector tunnel is completed under Downtown Los Angeles. But alas, most of what the "Gold Line" is known for will no probably longer be named as such. Potential plans for the line may likely integrate the Union Station-to-Azusa section into the Blue Line, leaving the Eastside segment remaining Gold (and turning the Expo line into "Gold") in the process.

If you're feeling nostalgic for re-living the line circa 2003, take The Militant's Ultimate Gold Line Tour, which came out in 2009, and shows you places of significant interest along the old school Union Station to Sierra Madre Villa route.

Happy Birthday, Metro Gold Line! Here's to many more years, in whatever form you may or may not become!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Militant Takes On The Natural History Museum's 'Becoming Los Angeles' Exhibit!


Though The Militant Angeleno blog is not a history blog per se, it was intended at its founding six years ago to educate what The Militant found back then to be a largely lost and clueless blogosphere in terms of basic knowledge and appreciation of life in Los Angeles. Back then, many transplants and natives alike still clung on to inaccurate pejorative generalized assumptions of Los Angeles, which were designed on purpose to deflate the pride and morale of this city's populace in the name of self-degradation. One of them was, "L.A. [sic] Has No History."

Really now. Even a settlement founded five minutes ago has a history. There is a backstory behind the hows and whys of the existence of that settlement, and the people who founded it. Not to mention that the settlement is now no longer five minutes old, but seven minutes old.

Despite that explanation, there are still some suckas who still insist that "L.A. [sic] Has No History." So instead of inflicting bodily harm on various people, The Militant decided to assume an identity and start a blog. The rest is history. Pun may or may not be intended.


The Natural History Museum is one of Los Angeles' first major civic institutions aimed at a populace that was inevitably bound to be more than just a sleepy agrarian town. A direct product of the "City Beautiful Movement" that swept the United States around the turn of the 20th Century, the museum opened 100 years ago on November 6, 1913. Along with the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which opened the day before, these were civic benchmarks of a place that was undergoing a metamorphosis, as citrus groves and avocado orchards bordered by dirt roads were being transformed into commercial districts and neighborhoods bordered by paved streets.

More than just an old-ass building with dinosaur bones that occasionally becomes a hip venue for KCRW DJs, attaining centenarian status also meant re-asserting itself as an important and vibrant  institution of learning and discovery to a city that's undergoing a new kind of metamorphosis in the 21st Century. With that, they unveiled the new "Becoming Los Angeles" permanent exhibit earlier this month. The Militant was faithfully there on Thursday to Check. It. Out.


"Becoming Los Angeles" basically explains the transformation of Los Angeles in ecological and sociopolitical aspects from Tongva nation to Spanish pueblo to Mexican rancho to Californian town to American city. The Militant realizes that it's a herculean task to condense 232 years of written history (and the few thousand years of unwritten history that precedes it)  into 14,000 square feet of museum space. Though it's not perfect, it most definitely succeeds at explaining (to newbies and hardcore militant history buffs alike, and everyone in between) the hows and whys of the origins of this grand city that we live in.

The Militant will not attempt to give you a play-by-play rundown of the entire exhibit. He doesn't intend to not only because he thinks it's important that you visit this exhibit yourself and come away with your own experience of learning our city's history, but because he doesn't want to end up writing another overtly long-ass blog post that takes him into the wee-hours of the night and causes him wake up in the early afternoon, only to discover that maybe 30 people have bothered to read his volunteer dissertation (now you know why The Militant doesn't blog as much these days).

He will say that it's a largely aesthetically-pleasing , U-shaped exhibit, which is information-packed but not uncomfortably overwhelming. He will also say that even a militant Los Angeles history buff like The Militant learned a thing or two he either didn't know before, or was explained in much more coherent terms, like how cow poop was instrumental in changing the Los Angeles landscape (The Militant won't spoil it for you, if you didn't know already, then wait for the exhibit to break it down for ya). Incidentally, "poop" is the Museum's preferred synonym for feces/excrement/droppings/doo-doo/caca/shit, as its use is consistently used in the other exhibits (Dino poop, anyone?). He will also additionally say that some of the historical artifacts included here were mind-blowing in their inclusion, such as the actual table where The Freaking Treaty of Cahuenga was signed (to think that THE John C. Fremont and THE Andres Pico actually sat there...[mind blown]).  He will even more also additionally say that your Los Angeles History Geekdom can accurately be  measured by the amount of time in minutes (or hours) that you gaze at the Downtown Los Angeles Circa 1940 scale model and view it from various angles (and take photos of it). Mark The Militant's Word!


The Militant also stepped back and looked not just at the displays themselves, but at the people perusing them, with curiosity, delight and even various levels of expertise. It was quite a sight to see 21st Century Latinos make connections with their 19th Century counterparts, a number of which we get to be acquainted with by face and name via biography.  One of the visitors commented on the picture of Eutalia Perez de Guillen Marine, who lived to the age 112(!) and said she reminded her of her own great-grandmother, and how Señora Eutalia's eyes can "look into your soul." Others were equally fascinated by the 103 year-old Rogerio Rocha (Man, what were these people eating back then, that's what The Militant wants to know!), a blacksmith of Fernandeño Indian heritage who owned his own property in the SFV but lost it to Teh White Man when American property laws went into effect in the 1850s.

And for those who know your historical figures, people like Abel Stearns, Biddy Mason and Harris Newmark, among many others, get their due props here.

As The Militant mentioned earlier, "Becoming Los Angeles" isn't perfect. Though not adversely impacting the exhibit in any major way, he feels it could be much better if the following can somehow be addressed:

- The Native American section (described specifically as "Tongva-Gabrieleño" as various tribal factions have their own variations on the name) seems kind of nominal. Maybe it's because The Militant dedicated an entire month of posts on the original native Angelenos,  but you figured the people who have been here milennia longer than the Spanish, Mexicans and Americans combined should get a little more display love. We see some nice stone artifacts, but little in the way of what they looked like and what their environment was like. It would also have been awesome to see a map of Tongva villages overlaid on a modern Los Angeles like what The Militant did.

- The Pobladores display, though featuring a neato scale diorama and a full roster of the 44 founders of El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Rio Porciuncula on September 4, 1781 by name, age and gender, still seems to be missing something. Maybe it's the (lack of) adequate lighting (these are the founders, c'mon!), maybe it's the awkward positioning in the exhibit (it's placed in a corridor, painted black, possibly easy to overlook), maybe it's way the description was written, which doesn't seem to make it plainly obvious why the Pobladores were dispatched from Mission San Gabriel and why they stopped where they stopped.

- On a similar note, the Pacific Electric display, though containing some nice mementos of our former rail transit system, doesn't seem to relay to the passing eye that it's presenting the history of a transportation system -- i.e. no pictures or models of streetcars.

- More interactive displays. The interactive video presentation of the Los Angeles Aqueduct was well done, The Militant expected a little more of that with the technology we have today. Maybe a display of how the freeway system grew over the years (many Los Angeles n00bs just assume it was built all at once when it, like today's Metro Rail system, was actually planned, funded, built and opened in phases).

- While the exhibit rightfully covers the impact of the motion picture industry, including some early artifacts, though it references the film industry's east coast origins, it doesn't explain why it ended up here (supposedly to escape possible lawsuits stemming from Thomas Edison's exclusive patent of the motion picture camera, and Hollywood, once located along a railroad line, was close enough to the Mexican border where scofflaw filmmakers could escape the country in a jiffy).

- The photo gallery along the walls towards the end of the exhibit have no captions/credits. Dunno if it's not finished yet, but it would help to have explanations for the pictures (The WWII photo display of multiethnic Angelenos involved in the war, flanking a photo of San Gabriel native Gen. George S. Patton looked nice though).

- The Internet! Dude, no mention whatsoever of The Internet's 1969 birth in a UCLA computer lab?! Whatup with that?

The exhibit ends with a photo montage projection of historic events from the 1940s to the 2010s and a video of the Los Angeles cityscape framed by questions that lead the visitor to ponder the city's future.
Because we are also a living part of Los Angeles history.


Do The Militant a favor and visit this exhibit. Give yourself about one and a half to two hours to enjoy the whole thing. Don't rush it (The Militant sorta did towards the end but it worked out in his favor since there was a power outage at the museum on Thursday afternoon). And after you do visit it, encourage your friends and family to visit it. And especially tell your friends/relatives transplanting themselves from Out East, Flyover Country and Up North to visit it, especially within their first month in town.

Los Angeles never lacked a history. But for the longest time we lacked a common mechanism in which to learn it. It's not something the LAUSD teaches its kids (nor is it something the LAUSD wants its kids to learn, especially in this era of standardized testing and their overall systematic decimation of learning). It wasn't until websites, blogs and social media made it easier to learn the hows and whys of this grand city, and glimpse into the way our familiar streets looked like to previous generations.

Visiting the "Becoming Los Angeles" exhibit is probably one of the most important things you should be doing as an Angeleno. Though obviously not hyper-comprehensive, it's complete enough that it gives a baseline history that should form the basis of our common understanding of local history. And it stimulates our curiosities enough that if we want to learn more, we can. Militant-Approved!

Too bad it had to take 100 years to make all this happen.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

'Take Me Out' To A Los Angeles Tradition



It's a wonderful time to be a Dodgers fan. As of July 22, the team entered sole possession of first place in the NL West, just 22 days after being in last place. Yes, just 22 days from "suck" to "success," thanks to The Puig, Hanleywood, a more consistent rotation, a more improved pen, keeping Brandon League away from save situations and overall better health. Enjoy this one:


While The Militant was watching Sunday's game where The Boys In Blue swept the Washington Nationals, announcer Steve Lyons (yeah, we know...) made a comment about baseball's 7th Inning Stretch, how it may or may not have been originated by president William Howard Taft during the Washington Senators' Opening Day game in 1910 where the famously portly Commander-In-Chief stood up in the middle of the 7th and took a stretch to relieve the fatigue of sitting in a seat that was too small for him. The other spectators, seeing this, stood up along with the prez, and a tradition was born.

The other tidbit uttered by the unfortunately non-Vin Scully broadcasters was that the baseball anthem, "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" was first played at a baseball game in Los Angeles during a high school match in 1934.

"I find that hard to believe," quipped Lyons, fueling fire to the stereotype that Los Angeles was pretty much an empty desert until East Coast transplants arrived here, circa 1998 or so.

The story behind the song goes like this: It was written back in 1908 by Tin Pan Alley songwriters Jack Norworth (lyrics) and Albert Von Tilzer (music). Norworth was riding the subway in NYC (then brand-spanking new, only in existence for four years) when he saw an advertisement that read, "Baseball Today - Polo Grounds." The song was written with the songwriters having never been to a baseball game before (and hadn't even done so until over 20 years after the song was written).

And did you know the song as we sing it at Dodger Stadium, and at other stadia, is not the whole song? You're only singing the chorus part of the song! Here's the complete song, verses included, for y'allz:



The song was popular back in the days before records or even radio. People bought the sheet music and played and sang it themselves. It was also a popular pastime song in movie theaters - The audience sang it while the guy in the projector booth changed the film reels. But it would be some 26 years before it would be played at an actual baseball game, mainly because public address systems didn't exist until 1929.

Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" (now known as an Internet meme) is a song that came out 26 years ago, just to give you some perspective.

Several historical accounts mention "Take Me Out..." as having been first played at a high school baseball game in Los Angeles before being played at the World Series in St. Louis later that year.

But...which high school? 

It would be pretty awesomesauce if a certain high school's sports program took credit for it and literally ran the bases with it. Imagine having that distinction. Of course, Los Angeles schools don't care a thing about preserving their own histories, since teaching local history is banned in the LAUSD (assuming it was an LAUSD school). One account lists it as a "prep school" (which would likely make it a private school) and this page says it was first played "before the first game of the Los Angeles high school baseball season."

Well, there is a high school called "Los Angeles High School" which was founded in 1872 at Temple and Broadway in Downtown, moved to Fort Moore Hill in 1891 (right at pretty much the site of today's Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts) and moved to its current Olympic Blvd location in 1917. It once had an ornate gothic edifice (pictured left) which was damaged in the 1971 Sylmar earthquake and destroyed by an unrelated, though mysterious, fire later that year. Today's ugly-ass penitentiaryesque '70s-era school building is what replaced a beauty of a campus.

Interestingly, Los Angeles High does boast baseball-related alumni such as former Brooklyn Dodger Mel Almada, who in 1933, became the first Mexican American to play in the major leagues as a member of the Boston Red Sox. Other players include former NY Giants catcher Harry Danning and former Yankees outfielder Bob Meusel.

But perhaps the greatest Los Angeles High alum to make an impact on baseball was not a player, but a young woman named Rosalind Weiner who was eventually elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 1953 and became the driving force in City Hall in bringing the Brooklyn Dodgers to their new home in Los Angeles.

Sounds like the stars were aligned for that one. So, unless any other school wants to take credit for it, you Los Angeles High Romans might want to steal this historical base.

"Take Me Out To The Ball Game" is a tradition of America's national pastime, performed over the years at the old Wrigley Field, at Gilmore Stadium, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, at Dodger Stadium, at Anaheim Stadium if you wanna count that, at Dedaux Field, at Jackie Robinson Stadium and at countless high school fields all over town where countless major league players once played. But one of them, whichever it is, was the originator.

If anyone out there has any solid leads on the exact high school that originated "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" in 1934, please contact The Militant [militantangeleno at gmail dot com] immediately.