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L.A. THEN AND NOW
The long and the short of the Southland's street names
By Cecilia Rasmussen, Times Staff Writer
December 10, 2006

In the land that gave birth to Hollywood make-believe, sometimes even streets aren't quite what they seem.

Many of the nearly 50,000 street names in Los Angeles County carry the names of notables, an efficient way of marking history: Washington, for the first president; Pico, for the last governor of California under Mexican rule; Lindbergh, for the aviator; and Martin Luther King Jr., for the civil rights leader.

But then there's Hoover Street, west of the Harbor Freeway. The man it honors isn't President Hoover but Dr. Leonce Hoover, a Swiss who served as a French military surgeon under Napoleon Bonaparte. After arriving in Los Angeles in 1849 with his wife and three children, he changed the spelling of his name from Huber to Hoover and became a pioneering vintner, growing high-quality wine grapes near what is now the town of Cudahy. Hoover died in 1862; 30 years later, Hoover Street was named in his honor.

Likewise, Churchill Avenue in Chatsworth is named not for the British statesman but for Howard Churchill, a former Los Angeles city employee with the Bureau of Engineering.

South Los Angeles has Rochester Circle, which doesn't honor the city in New York but Jack Benny's sidekick Rochester. Eddie Anderson, an early African American performer who lived on the block, portrayed him.

Gregory Way and Peck Drive, which intersect in Beverly Hills, aren't tributes to the actor in "To Kill a Mockingbird," even though he lived in Beverly Hills. Peck Street was named for contractor Clair L. Peck, and Gregory for an early 20th century resident whose accomplishments are now lost to history, according to the Bureau of Engineering files.

In 1906, the posh burg's founder, Burton Green, had a street named after him, Burton Way. But Arnaz Drive in Beverly Hills owes its name not to Desi Arnaz — who, with his wife, Lucille Ball, revolutionized television comedy — but to Don Jose de Arnaz, a landholder in 19th century Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Arcadia, Temple City and San Gabriel share Longden Avenue, named not for famous jockey Johnny Longden — who rode to many victories at nearby Santa Anita racetrack — but for Los Angeles County Supervisor Orray W. Longden, who died in 1905.

Chavez Ravine Place in Chavez Ravine was named several decades ago for an 1850s landowner, Julian Chavez, not for United Farm Workers co-founder Cesar Chavez.

Silver Lake Boulevard, which runs through the community of Silver Lake and near Silver Lake reservoir, honors an early L.A. water commissioner, Herman Silver.

Sepulveda Boulevard, the longest thoroughfare in both the city and county of Los Angeles, stretches 40 miles from Long Beach to Mission Hills in the San Fernando Valley. It was named in 1925 for pioneering 19th century cattle rancher Francisco Sepulveda, whose 30,260-acre spread, Rancho San Vicente y Santa Monica, extended west from the present-day boulevard to the ocean.

The city's shortest street, Powers Place, southwest of downtown, extends just 13 feet. It was named in 1910 for contractor Benjamin Powers.

The lowest is Seaside Avenue on Terminal Island, 10 feet below sea level, according to an official at the Bureau of Street Services.

Several streets vie to be Los Angeles' steepest: Baxter, Fargo, Duane and Eldred all have grades between 32% and 33%. (A 33% grade rises 33 feet for every 100 feet of length.) According to the city, the steepest section of public roadway — only about 50 feet long — is on 28th Street in San Pedro, climbing at a 33.3% grade.

As mundane as names often seem, they can inspire revolts. In the 1880s, Angelenos residing on Charity Street did not like saying they lived "on Charity." They petitioned the city for a change, and Charity Street became Grand Avenue.

In 1897, Mayor Meredith Pinxton "Pinky" Snyder suggested changing the names of such streets and avenues as Arapahoe, Juanita, Cerro Gordo and Santiago because, he said, "newcomers cannot spell or pronounce" such names, according to a Times story of the era. Angelenos were highly insulted; the names survived.

Eighty years later, Mary Dziadula (pronounced Ja-du-la), a self-described "little old lady from Burbank," became a major force in naming a new, two-block-long downtown street Gen. Thaddeus Kosciuszko Way (pronounced cause-choose-ko), after the Polish-born hero of the Revolutionary War.

City officials often are petitioned by people wanting to christen a byway after some local notable. The rule book usually blocks that. Harrison Kimball, who in 1967 was in charge of naming streets for the Bureau of Engineering, told a Times reporter that streets aren't named for the living, and explained why:

"A person's a hero one year, but then he vanishes from the public eye or becomes a crum-bum in the years beyond." Also, Kimball said, "it's an embarrassing situation if the street is named for a developer and then he ends up in the clink."

Exceptions have occurred. Rhoda Street in Encino was named in 1949 to honor the very much alive wife of Adohr Milk Farm founder Merritt Adamson. (Her name spelled backward is Adohr.) George Burns Road, through Los Angeles and West Hollywood, was named for the comedian in 1986, on his 90th birthday.

Naming streets can be controversial. In 1926, the city of Los Angeles agreed to rename its section of Preuss Road as Robertson Boulevard to honor developer George Robertson. Beverly Hills also voted to rename its stretch of road after Robertson. But Culver City balked: Harry Culver, the city's founder, refused to allow the name of a competing developer to adorn a street in his town. The Robertson Boulevard name stops at Washington Boulevard — just inside the Culver City border.

In 1967, an effort to turn Fairfax Avenue into Koufax Avenue — to honor Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax — struck out. "After all," Kimball told The Times, "Fairfax is a very long street and is very well known, and how well is Koufax doing this year?"

The year before, an elbow problem had ended Koufax's glittering career at the tender age of 30. In his 12 years as a Dodger, the left-hander pitched four no-hitters — one of them a perfect game — and won the Cy Young Award three times.

In 1971, Jazz Age megaphone crooner and actor Rudy Vallee attempted to have a short section of his street in the Hollywood Hills, Pyramid Place, renamed "Rue de Vallee" — French for "Vallee's Way." When the neighbors objected, he called them "disgruntled pukes." But the city agreed with the neighbors. Vallee put up his own sign, christening his long driveway Rue de Vallee.

Commercial names are also a no-no, although in the early 1920s, Procter and Gamble streets intersected at the company's Wilmington soap factory.

Crenshaw Boulevard got its name in 1904 after developer George L. Crenshaw laid out a series of upscale residential tracts in mid-city Los Angeles and named the development Crenshaw Heights.

Nearly 100 years later, when the City Council considered renaming a section of the boulevard after the late Tom Bradley — the city's longest-serving mayor and only African American to hold the post — many of the largely black community's residents objected. The Crenshaw name, they said, was too significant to lose.

E.O.C. Ord, the surveyor who laid out and named the city's early streets in 1849, was honored more than 50 years later with his appellation on a street in what is now Chinatown.

Back when Ord was naming thoroughfares, he was also wooing a young woman named Trinidad de la Guerra. As a tribute, he bestowed his nickname for her on a street: "mi primavera, my springtime." These days, it's known as Spring Street.
 

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In 1971, Jazz Age megaphone crooner and actor Rudy Vallee attempted to have a short section of his street in the Hollywood Hills, Pyramid Place, renamed "Rue de Vallee" — French for "Vallee's Way." When the neighbors objected, he called them "disgruntled pukes." But the city agreed with the neighbors. Vallee put up his own sign, christening his long driveway Rue de Vallee.

wait... so some crazy actor put up his own street sign and thats how we got the name?
 

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More info on the mean steep streets of LA
very interesting.......





Los Angeles Times, August 21, 2003
SURROUNDINGS / HIGHLAND PARK
Getting the Slant on L.A.'s Steepest Street
The law of gravity is strictly enforced when living on a 33% grade. Stretches in San Pedro, Echo Park and Silver Lake also stake claims.
By Bob Pool, Times Staff Writer. Photos by Vince Compagnone/LAT



There's a steep price to pay for living on Eldred Street.

You have cars that run away. Truck cargos that roll away. Mail carriers who fade away. Visitors who turn around and go away.

"To live here, you learn what you can and can't do," said Ric Phiegh, whose Highland Park home is on the steepest street in Los Angeles.

In a city bisected by a mountain range and laced with hills and ridges, that distinction is high praise.

Experts calculate that Eldred gains 219 feet in elevation as it climbs a stomach-clutching 33% grade between Avenue 50 and Cross Avenue on the side of Mt. Washington.

True, a portion of a street in San Pedro has a tiny stretch of pavement with a 33.3% grade. But Eldred is in an elevated class of its own because the slope runs for a long stretch.

Special scaled-down garbage trucks are assigned to pick up trash on Eldred Street each Tuesday morning.

And their two-man crews back up the steep incline before inching their way down the street to pick up trash.

That way their truck won't tip over when they try to turn around at the top of street.

Letter carriers have given up on house-to-house deliveries, although one longtime mailman braved the slope in a squeaky-braked truck for years.

Mail is now distributed in group mailboxes at the base of the hill.

Some street maps mistakenly suggest that Eldred is a through street. But a rickety wooden stairway connects its dead end with Cross Avenue farther up the hill.

Eldred residents have been known to rescue unsuspecting motorists from the top of their street by volunteering to drive stranded, panic-stricken strangers' cars down for them.

"One thing you cannot do is get off the paved road if it's raining or wet. You'll slide sideways down the hill," said Phiegh, 46-year-old construction inspector who has lived on the street for seven years.

One neighbor's car slid down the driveway into the street and then rolled down Eldred, zigzagging down the hill without hitting anything until it veered off the road, ran up on a small embankment and flipped over on its roof and hood, he said.

"Luckily no one was in it. My neighbor ran out screaming, 'My car! My car!' " he said. "Another time, I used an 8-foot 2-by-4 to pry a police car off the wall in my frontyard after it slid downhill into it."

Neighbor Rob Schraff, a 43-year-old advertising writer, said he gives friends specific instructions on how to navigate the hill the first time they visit.

Nonetheless, some suffer from high anxiety after they park on the steep slant and struggle with gravity to open and close their car doors.

Ken Utley, a 79-year-old former pipe fitter who has lived near the top of Eldred for 47 years, recalled the time a trash truck tried to turn around at the dead end and got hung up on sloping dirt next to the street.

It took experts 12 hours to free the truck without it tipping over and rolling down the hill.

"Another time, about 35 years ago, an Arrowhead water truck tried to back up and turn around and it tilted and lost the left half of its load. Big bottles of water rolled all the way down the hill," Utley said.

Eldred Street was constructed in 1912 and named for Delos W. Eldred, who owned the property around the turn of the 20th century.

On clear days, it offers a commanding view of Highland Park against a backdrop of Mt. Wilson and Mt. Baldy to the east.

But they don't make streets like that anymore in Los Angeles.

Since the 1950s, the city has limited street grades to about 15%.

That's why only older hillside subdivisions such as those in Silver Lake have roadways with the kind of roller-coaster qualities that Baxter Street boasts.




It's a lengthy, 32% grade that climbs a ridge east of the Silver Lake Reservoir, crosses over the top of the hill and immediately drops off on the other side.

Unsuspecting motorists gasp when they reach the crest and discover the roadway in front of them has dropped out of sight and there is nothing but empty space in front of their car's hood.

Baxter Street was laid out in 1884. Parts of it are paved with grooved concrete designed to improve traction in rainy weather.

Neighboring Fargo, Ewing and Duane streets also have grades in the 32% range.

There are occasional runaway cars on the street, said Mike O'Connor, 61, a retired city planner who has lived on Baxter for 20 years.

And there are occasional crashes on the blind hilltop, according to his brother, 67-year-old Tom O'Connor of San Juan Capistrano.

"I had a head-on collision up there. An oncoming driver had to go around a car that was illegally parked near the top and he was on the wrong side when he reached the top," Tom O'Connor said Tuesday. "Now, I always go down the street and around the hill when I leave here."

The next street over, Fargo, is sometimes described as Los Angeles' steepest street.

The Los Angeles Wheelmen, a bicycle club, touts it as having a 35% grade when it conducts an annual leg-pumping, heart-pounding bike climb along Fargo's lengthy Allesandro-to-Alvarado segment in Echo Park. The city lists it as 32%, however.

According to the city, the steepest section of public roadway is on 28th Street in San Pedro.

For about 50 feet between Gaffey Street and Peck Avenue, it climbs at a 33.3% angle. But other portions of the street aren't so steep.

"It's like San Francisco for me," said Mario Diminic, whose home is above the steepest part and has a stunning view of Los Angeles Harbor.

(Actually, San Francisco's steepest drivable streets - Filbert, 22nd and Vicksburg - each slope at a 31.5% angle at their steepest parts.)

"I like it - this street is too steep for kids to play ball in. But some people hate it. They won't park on it. They park down below and walk up," Diminic, a 64-year-old retired baker, said Tuesday.

One motorist wishes he had parked elsewhere about a year ago.

His new Mustang rolled backward down 28th, jumped the curb at its T intersection with Peck and crashed into bushes and a fence above a home, Diminic said.

Despite the ups and downs of living on streets that resemble ski slopes, residents of Los Angeles' steepest roadways say they wouldn't trade the views, privacy and unique character that come with their territory.

And that's on the level.
 

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"Silver Lake Boulevard, which runs through the community of Silver Lake and near Silver Lake reservoir, honors an early L.A. water commissioner, Herman Silver."

This report is very interesting trivia. I was already beginning to think Silver Lake was named for Hi Ho Silver. Next time, I will look around for a statue of Tonto.
 

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There is a small street downtown near the Bank of America Plaza that is almost unpronounceable. I think the full name is General Thaddeus Kozuskiko Way or some bullshit.
 

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"Silver Lake Boulevard, which runs through the community of Silver Lake and near Silver Lake reservoir, honors an early L.A. water commissioner, Herman Silver."

This report is very interesting trivia. I was already beginning to think Silver Lake was named for Hi Ho Silver. Next time, I will look around for a statue of Tonto.
Most people in Silver Lake think it's named after the color of the lake.
 
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