Monday, February 27, 2023

CicLAvia 43 Report: CiCOLDvia!

This photo seemed to sum up the February 26, 2023 CicLAvia perfectly. Taken at Sherman Way and The Metro G-Line busway station near Canoga Avenue.

Just 84 days after the last one between Exposition Park and Watts, the 2023 CicLAvia season has begun with a return to Sherman Way on Sunday - a re-run of the 5-mile December 8, 2019 route from Reseda to Canoga Park. While that one was wet and mostly rain-dampened, CicLAvia Sunday got a nice day-long respite from our week-long winter storm which brought snow to our local mountains.

Speaking ot The White Stuff, it was very much on the minds of nearly every CicLAvian who arrive on Sunday. For this was the very first CicLAvia where snow covered the nearby mountains not named Baldy, and in fact frosted the peaks of some relatively low-elevation ranges like the Santa Susana Mountains, which was the snowcapped backdrop to Sunday. Even arriving to the San Fernando Valley from The Other Side Of The Hill gave a majestic view from the northbound 405 which made the Valley look more like Salt Lake City.

But despite not having a single drop of rain (thankfully), Sunday's event broke CicLAvia temperature records as the coldest on record - it had a mean temperature of 51º F, beating the previous record of 57º F during the December 5, 2021 South Los Angeles CicLAvia along Crenshaw and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards. It was so cold, The Militant wore a mask for most of the route - not to protect himself from COVID, but to protect his face from the cold. But then again, The Militant always wears a mask, so, this wasn't really a big deal after all...And FYI, for those keeping track, the hottest temperature during CicLAvia was 95º during the October 5, 2014 Heart of L.A. event (which went from Echo Park to East Los Angeles via Downtown).

Reseda seemed to really take to the Instagrammable landmark thing really well.

The Militant parked in an unspecified nearby residential street off of Sherman Way, unloaded his car bike rack and proceeded to ride westbound along Sherman Way into the chilly winter air. He noticed that the thoroughfare now has these very Instagrammable CicLAvia logoesque blue-and-yellow "Sherman Way RESEDA" welcome signs on the street median (which totally fulfilled their intended purpose by CicLAvians). The signs, along with other pedestrian-friendly improvements along The Way were part of a recent LADOT streetscape project designed by Alta Planning that was implemented in 2021. This Is The Way!

The Militant got to chill with Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-San.

As The Militant headed towards the Tampa Avenue, something clicked - He briefly strayed from the route and headed north a half mile to Saticoy Street, where he knew this was familiar ground - and there it was, just a half-block east of Tampa on 19223 Saticoy - The South Seas Apartments, a.k.a. where Daniel LaRusso and his mom lived and where Mr. Miyagi worked from the classic movie The Karate Kid (NOOO, not that one - THIS ONE!). The Militant kicked himself (from The Crane Position, of course) for not including it on the recent Epic CicLAvia Tour post! NOTE TO SELF: Add it in the next update...

Never fails...

Returning to the route, while The Militant rode somewhere in Winnetka, the clouds briefly parted, the sun shone and proceeded to cast bicycle shadows on the pavement. Though it was a brief show, the 12-plus year axiom still rings true: THE SUN ALWAYS SHINES ON CICLAVIA!

Reaching the end of the route in Canoga Park, there was the mandatory activity hub with a performance stage, a souped-up Metro Art Bus and a Los Angeles Public Library booth that ran out of those much-coveted P-22 memorial library cards during the first 20 minutes of the day, But he did spot this over-filled gutter along Sherman Way that provided a nice reflection:

The subject of food came up. The Militant was getting hungry and the food trucks with the long lines at the activity hubs would not cut it (besides, he's been to many of them before during previous CicLAvias). The Militant tweeted the addresses of various Vietnamese restaurants along the route that specialize in pho - the perfect food for this cloudy, balmy weather), but this nearby Weiler's Deli spot got The Militant contemplating...Ultimately, The Militant chose soup over sammiches and stuck to following his own advice (next time though, Weiler's Deli!) - he chose Pho 21 on Sherman Way between Owensmouth and Canoga avenues. Though not as mind-blowing as the pho he had in Alhambra last month, it nevertheless hit the spot for the time, place and weather.  Cảm ơn, Pho 21!

As soon as The Militant was done, The Po-Po Party Pooper Patrol was slowly making its way east along Sherman Way telling all cyclists to "stay to the right". Ever the straggler, The Militant rode as fast AF to leave them in the dust and rode unencumbered along the rest of The Way.

But not before capturing this parting shot of the snow-capped Santa Susana Mountains overlooking a very full Browns Canyon Wash (where this melted snow will end up eventually) along the CicLAvia route. We may or may not ever see a scene like this again from a CicLAvia route!

Only 49 days to go until the next CicLAvia!

Friday, February 24, 2023

The Militant's Epic CicLAvia Tour XLIII!!

Interactive map! Click here for larger version.

We're here in 2023, CicLAvia's 13th year, and as our favorite open streets event enters its raging, hormone-infused, possibly-emo teen years, we're in for a treat as not one, not two, not three, not four, five, six or even seven CicLAvias are in store in the next 10 months, but (count 'em) EIGHT of them are scheduled (well, technically...six full-sized CicLAvias and a pair of CicLAminis)!!!

The 43rd-CicLAvia kicks-off the 2023 season with a return to The 818 - a five-mile straight shot down Sherman Way from Reseda to Winnetka to Canoga Park, which was last done on one particularly rainy Sunday on December 8, 2019. We're also in a seasonal rain spell at this moment, but according to all weather forecasts, CicLAvia Sunday will be the sole day for the next week sans rain! Cloud cover willing, maybe we'll be treated to the sight of snow on the San Gabriel Mountains, or even the Santa Susana Mountains...or maybe even the Santa Monica Mountains! For the past 12-plus years, always remember this: No matter what the weather is, THE SUN STILL ALWAYS SHINES ON CICLAVIA!

So here's a slightly updated list of 14 points of interest along Sunday's Sherman Way CicLAvia. As usual - See you or not see you on the streets!

Oh yeah, if you found this Epic CicLAvia Tour guide useful and visit any of these sites, please add the #EpicCicLAviaTour hashtag to any social media post that includes it. The Militant will be glad to re-tweet/re-whatevertheycallthatonMastadon!

And if you appreciate The Militant's work (this guide still took a lot of time out of The Militant's day re-formatting and updating...argh), kick him a little love via PayPal! He *hates* asking for money, but you know how it is these days...A Militant's gotta pay his bills! Your support is much appreciated! Please Like And Subscribe and Smash That Be...oh wait, we're not quite there yet.

Support The Militant Angeleno's Exploits and Adventures!

1. Sherman Way
Sherman Way, Reseda

Named after railroad executive Moses Hazeltine Sherman (you should be familiar with that name from the "Meet The Hollywoods" CicLAvia), who was responsible for bringing his Los Angeles & Pacific Railway (later merged into the Pacific Electric Railway) into the San Fernando Valley. The street was originally a zig-zagging $500,000 grand boulevard built in 1911 along the Red Car right-of-way, stretching from North Hollywood, running west along what is now Chandler Blvd, then north along what is now Van Nuys Blvd, and west along the current Sherman Way. As the SFV farmland gave way to (sub)urbanization and the street grid, Sherman Way was re-aligned and extended eastward as a straight thoroughfare in the 1920s.

2. Site of Sherman Square Roller Rink
18430 Sherman Way, Reseda

In the 1970s and 1980s, this was The Center of the Universe for many Valley youth: A roller rink during the skating heyday of the '70s (and on Monday nights, the Skataway club, a weekly private hangout for celebrities such as Cher and Jack Nicholson), and also hosted a roller hockey league and a bowling alley. In the '80s it became a popular venue for hip-hop events (an aspiring young rapper named Dr. Dre performed there back in 1985). Towards the '90s, the venue hosted computer shows during the weekends, but was also plagued by gang activity. It was razed in 2001 and replaced by the current Walgreen's pharmacy.

3. Site of Chuck Landis' Country Club

18419 Sherman Way, Reseda

Originally built as a Sav-On Drugs store, Los Angeles nightclub entrepreneur Chuck Landis bought the property in 1979 and converted it to a 1,000-seat concert venue originally intended for country music acts. But the burgeoning local punk, new wave and heavy metal acts of the early 1980s found an ideal venue - artists such as Motley Crue, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Bangles, Jackson Browne and Guns N Roses played here in their early years, as well as established acts like B.B. King, The Beach Boys, James Brown, Prince and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. U2 played their very first concert in Los Angeles here in 1981. In the mid-'80s, the venue also hosted boxing matches. It petered out in the 1990s and is now the Restauracion Reseda Church.

4. Reseda Theatre
18447 Sherman Way, Reseda

The beginnings of the Sherman Way/Reseda intersection becoming the entertainment capital of Reseda started as far back as the 1940s when this S. Charles Lee (You'll recognize his name as architect of many other historic theatres in these Epic CicLAvia Tour guides)-designed Streamline Moderne cinema showed double features to the nearby newly-developed residential community. The theatre closed in 1988, but it gained some notoriety in the 1997 film "Boogie Nights" and is planned to be resurrected as a Laemmle multi-screen cinema after a $5.65 million restoration project.

5. Reseda Vietnamese District
c. 1980s
Near Sherman Way & Reseda Blvd, Reseda

Though Westminster, Garden Grove and Los Angeles' Chinatown are more synonymous with the Vietnamese community in Southern California, the largest concentration Viet Americans in the 818 is located right here in Reseda. This mile-long stretch of Sherman Way and adjacent area is home to a good number of Vietnamese eateries, including Pho 999 (7255 Reseda Blvd), Pho So (7231 Reseda Blvd), Sandwich Express (18575 Sherman Way), Vinh Loy Tofu and Bun Bo Hue (18625 Sherman Way), Khuu Bistro (18845 Sherman Way) and Pho Viet Cali (18111 Saticoy St). There are also many more businesses, cultural institutions, organizations and houses of worship with a two-mile radius of Sherman and Reseda.

6. Aliso Canyon Wash
Sherman Way between Crebs and Wilbur avenues, Reseda

One of the Los Angeles River's many tributaries, this seasonal wash carries stormwater from Aliso Canyon (yep, that Aliso Canyon) up past Porter Ranch, running due south and joining the Los Angeles River near Yolanda Avenue. Thanks to the recent rainy weather, this wash is gonna be flowin'!

7. Los Angeles Jewish Home

19308 Sherman Way, Reseda

Like many Jewish institutions in Los Angeles, this senior living and health care facility originated in Boyle Heights in 1916, expanding to the SFV in the late 1940s. It's one of three campuses of the Los Angeles Jewish Home - the other nearby on Victory Blvd and another in Playa Vista. This campus, known as the Grancell Village Campus, is home to 1,000 seniors. Wonder if the residents know that the 1952 Spanish Colonial Revival structure on Sherman and Tampa was originally the Lorenzen Mortuary? 

8. Platt Office Building

19725 Sherman Way, Winnetka

Conceived by carpenter Dennis Platt and designed by T.W. Layman, this office building built in the early 1980s (but meant to look like it was made in the 1880s) contains remnants from the Queen Anne-style Little Sisters of the Poor Rest Home originally located in Boyle Heights and various parts from Victorian homes in Bunker Hill, combined with re-created architectural sections.

9. Site of the Weeks Poultry Colony
Area bordered by Winnetka Ave, Leadwell St, Oso Ave and Lanark St, Winnetka

In 1904, an idealistic farm dude named Charles Weeks moved from the Midwest to California, and in 1916 established a utopian poultry farming community named Runnymead in Santa Clara County where families lived on one-acre farms and sustainably raised chickens and eggs, and through that, would establish ideal social structures. He then moved south to the farming community of Owensmouth in the San Fernando Valley and 100 years ago established a similar colony here known as the Weeks Poultry Colony. The Great Depression put the idealistic colony to an end, and Weeks moved to Florida where he lived the rest of his life until his death in the 1960s. The colony is long-gone, but Weeks left his mark on the community which still exists today: The area is now known as Winnetka, named by the remaining colony members after Weeks' Illinois hometown, Runnymede Street and park were named after Weeks' original Nor Cal colony, and nearby Independence Avenue originated from his poultry colony marketing pitch, "One Acre and Independence."

10. Browns Canyon Wash
Sherman Way between Cozycroft and Lurline avenues, Winnetka

Another currently-flowing Los Angeles River tributary runs under Sherman Way, originating in Browns Canyon in the Santa Susana Mountains. It joins The River just west of Mason Avenue.

11. Canoga Park Antique Row
Sherman Way between Canoga and Owensmouth avenues, Canoga Park

This half mile-long stretch of Sherman Way contains at least half a dozen stores selling antiques and collectibles, including Red's Antiques (7221 Canoga Ave), Alabama Antiques and Collectibles (7209 Alabama Ave),  Retro Relics Etcetera (21501 Sherman Way), Antique Store Canoga Park (21507 Sherman Way) and Sherway Jewelry & Loan (21514 Sherman Way).

12. The Source of the Los Angeles River
Owensmouth Avenue, south of Bassett Street, Canoga Park

Take a short ride down Owensmouth Avenue to see where the currently-raging Los Angeles River officially begins, at the confluence of Bell Creek (pictured right), which flows down from the Simi Hills, and Arroyo Calabasas (pictured left), which flows down from the north side of the Santa Monica Mountains. Together they become the Los Angeles River, flowing 51 miles eastward then southward into Long Beach Harbor. 

13. Site of the Pacific Electric Owensmouth Station
Sherman Way and Topanga Canyon Blvd, Canoga Park

On the northwest corner of this intersection stood the Pacific Electric's Owensmouth (Canoga Park) depot. Built in the days when land companies were promising access to Owens Valley water via the upcoming Los Angeles Aqueduct (despite the fact that its terminus was some 20 miles to the northeast), the area eventually adopted the name of a nearby Southern Pacific Railroad depot, itself named after Canoga, NY. The U.S. Postal Service insisted on adding the word "Park" to lessen confusion with its original East Coast namesake. The Pacific Electric was a Craftsman-style structure that outlived its tenure as a Red Car depot when service ended in 1938. Unfortunately, it burned down in a fire in 1994.

14. Carlson Circle/Proposed PE Extension

c. 1910
Sherman Way at Carlson Circle

At the southeast corner of Sherman Way and Shoup Avenue is a street called Carlson Circle - a cartographic curiosity that stood out to The Militant. Back in the day, before the SFV conformed to an absolute grid, Sherman Way curved down using this quarter-circular thoroughfare and merged with Shoup Avenue (which, like Sherman Way, was also named after a Pacific Electric Railway executive -- Paul Shoup). The circle also had some connection to the Red Cars: Although there was never track laid on it, it was part of a onetime 1910 proposal to extend the Owensmouth streetcar line to what is now Valley Circle. So who was Carlson? Hugo Carlson was an immigrant from Sweden who settled in Owensmouth in 1912 and was one of the town's pioneers. He owned a 55-acre farm in the area that grew beans and tomatoes, was an active member of the local chamber of commerce and was also instrumental in supporting efforts to build flood control channels in the area. He died in 1958. His old farm, just inside of his eponymous Circle, is now home to the posh Canoga Lakes condo community.