Tuesday, February 2, 2016

It's Always Sunny in El Sereno, Part II: The Ascot Hills Adventure

Ascot Hills welcomes you.
Whenever there's more to the story, there's always a sequel (although these days it's only because the movie studios want to make more money), but after The Militant's recent little Eastside trek to El Sereno (and adjacent), he was inspired to check out the neato little verdant rolling hills east of Soto Street.

It turns out those hills have a name, Ascot Hills, and they contain a relatively new city park called Ascot Hills Park

Back in the 1920s, the area was home to a racing venue called the Legion Ascot Speedway, which attracted Angelenos from far and wide (this was still a couple decades before the Los Angeles Rams brought big-league professional team sports to town).

Finally opened in June, 2011, some 81 years before it was supposed to open.

Hey, better late than never.

The Militant was welcomed by a brown dirt path cutting through the mountain and leading up at a steep angle. He was concerned with not having the proper hiking gear, until he looked down at his feet and realized that his combat boots could function perfectly well as hiking shoes (A true Militant is always at the ready). So he walked up the path, rounded a hill and walked westward.

he was greeted by an awesome view of not only the Downtown Los Angeles skyline, but of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and even Catalina Island behind that. The Hollywood Sign and the outline of the Century City skyline can also be seen. To the north were the San Gabriel Mountains, including the snowcapped (yet overcast) Mt. Baldy. To the southeast he could also see Orange County's Saddleback Mountain in clear view.

This place is like the Eastside's Runyon Canyon -- except for the absence of the superficial self-centered showbiz (SSS) types and the lack of dog crap. And considering that he saw about 5 dogs being walked along his hike, he can say that Eastsiders are gar more responsible people.

The Militant also looked down towards nearby Montecito Heights where he could see the site of the now-removed Pacific Electric viaduct (R.I.P.).

The best part, however, was The Militant hanging out there in the Ascot Hills, waiting for the sun to go down. And although this was a generally cloudless sunset (and thus not an #epicsunset that fills up Twitter and Instragram feeds), it was nonetheless awesome.

Do make a chance to get here before Springtime ends; the hills are nice and green and native wildfllowers are known to grow here!

Monday, February 1, 2016

It's Always Sunny in El Sereno*

The seasonally-green Ascot Hills in El Sereno.
It was a lovely, post-rain windy day, the day that begs for photographs to be taken, and The Militant decided to crawl out of his compound, because he withers and wilts if he hasn't gotten enough sunshine. He decided to head to The Eastside because, believe it or not, he needed to make some new additions to his now-legendary Pacific Electric Archaeology Map (Note: The planned "Pacific Electric Week" of articles that was originally planned to accompany the map's debut last November has been postponed to an unspecified date due to additional Militant research...Stay Tuned!). Last month, a reader named "AJ" left a comment about some remnant track adjacent to Soto Street along the former Monrovia-Glendora main line, and today was the perfect break in El NiƱo business to go check it out.

The DTLA skyline from El Sereno.
The Militant headed down Mission Road to where it converged with Soto Street and Huntington Drive. He walked down that half-rural, half-industrial stretch of north Soto Street to bask in the sunshine, with the seasonably green (Yes, we do have seasons in Los Angeles, get with it) Ascot Hills to the east and the sprawling, solar-powered Forever 21 headquarters (which was once a large inventory warehouse for The Broadway back in The Militant's Lil'Mil days) on the west. After a fair distance, he entered the driveway of a satellite USC Health Sciences Campus facility and in the parking lot, saw the embedded remnants of the Pacific Electric Monrovia-Glendora Line double tracks, right there in the concrete, as if to preserve it for posterity (or for Militancy), or even as a Sid Graumanesque concrete monument for transit history tourists.

More Pacific Electric remnants!
The Militant took a moment to not only take a few snaps from his Militant Communications Device, but also touched one of the rails with his hands. Once he did that, he suddenly had a vision...he saw the Los Angeles of a long time ago, with the sight of large, red streetcars, rolling with the sound of thunder, and then he saw a Red Car pull away as a small child was crying, and then there was a rainstorm, and then he saw Kylo Ren standing with the Knights of Ren looking all bad-ass, and then the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi echoing from the outer realms of The Force saying, "Rey! Rey! These are your first ste..."

Oh wait, The Militant got that mixed up with something else.

He then continued to walk towards the USC facility to the end of the property where he saw the Valley Blvd PE Bridge from deck level, devoid of tracks but still covered with ballast stones. Again, The Militant felt a connection to the past. The Force of Pacific Electric history has definitely Awakened (Keep the puns going, Militant).

A deck view of the PE Valley Blvd Overpass bridge, paralleling north Soto Street.
The Militant enjoyed his walk in the sun, heading back north again, but to his chagrin, the Mission Road Viaduct, which was still standing the last time The Militant was around these here parts, is no more. Incidentally, on the same week where the 6th Street Viaduct is slated to finally commence its demise, The Militant has encountered the completed demise of this Viaduct, also in Los Angeles City Councilman Jose "Tha Bridgekillah" Huizar's 14th district.

Mission Road Viaduct, taken August 2015. Now you see it...

Mission Road Viaduct, February 2016. Now you don't.

R.I.P. Mission Road Viaduct. But do notice the stark contrast in color of the Ascot Hills in the background. The Militant can't stress this enough. YES, WE HAVE SEASONS IN LOS ANGELES.

The Militant was glad to take numerous pictures of both bridges and say his final goodbyes. This is why The Militant does what he does. May The Force of Los Angeles History Be With You (Okay, Militant, a bit predictable for an ending here, but acceptable).

*Technically, the track remnants, the USC building and the Forever 21 factory are on the west side of Soto Street and therefore would be in Lincoln Heights, and yes, The Militant is aware of this, but he spent most of the day in El Sereno, and the El Sereno side is what appears in the photographs. But don't you worry Lincoln Heightsiders, The Militant will cover your hood in due time.