Highland Park

The Highland Park community of Los Angeles defies any definition. One day it will be arts and crafts, that evening a craft beer mecca, and the next day an historic Latino enclave. Make of it what you will, Highland Park always has been and always will be a center for creative expression.

Highland Park

Scenes around Highland Park:

  • Highland Park
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  • Highland Park
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by Scott Piotrowski

The Highland Park community of Los Angeles defies any definition. One day it will be arts and crafts, that evening a craft beer mecca, and the next day an historic Latino enclave. Make of it what you will, Highland Park always has been and always will be a center for creative expression.

This was true throughout the turn of the 20th Century, when Charles Fletcher Lummis moved to the area. Lummis had just been hired to be the editor of the Los Angeles Times, but in order to take the position needed first to arrive from Cincinnati, Ohio. He did so on foot, writing about his adventures along the way. He also fell in love with the Southwest and its inhabitants, and after arriving in Los Angeles founded the Southwest Society. The Society led to the creation of the Southwest Museum – Los Angeles’ first museum! – which to this day sits watch over the Lower Arroyo from its perch on Mount Washington.

Following Lummis, in 1913, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the area. At that point, the California Plein Air movement was well under way, and Highland Park and the surrounding area was the center of it. Roosevelt saw the natural beauty as well and proclaimed how the entire area would make for a wonderful national park. From Pasadena to Lincoln Heights, the Lower Arroyo Seco parks followed along the creek side.

However, regular flooding and the need for speed combined to spell the end of the parks. By 1938 the Arroyo Seco was no longer a “dry creek” but instead a concrete channel, which then allowed for the building of the Arroyo Seco Parkway on December 30, 1940. The Parkway would become the first portion of Route 66 to become freeway, making Highland Park the first community bypassed by freeway along the Route 66 corridor. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Parkway is also the only National Scenic Byway fully contained in a metropolitan area anywhere in the country.

Despite this early movement toward the future of automobile travel and the perceived removal of history, Highland Park remains fond of its past. Today, the Highland Park – Garvanza Historic Preservation Overlay Zone is the largest in Los Angeles. The North Figueroa Association has recently been involved in the relighting of both the Highland Theater rooftop sign and the nearby Mannings Coffee Store sign. National Register of Historic Places Landmarks within the corridor in Highland Park include Judson Studios (Garvanza), the Highland Park Masonic Temple, the Pisgah Home Historic District, the Ziegler Estate, the Southwest Museum (Mount Washington), the Lummis Home, and the aforementioned Arroyo Seco Parkway. Even perceived relics of old can find new life in Highland Park: just ask Chicken Boy! And just off of the road was the place that made Pops into a new stop in Oklahoma. Soda Pop Stop long predates one of Route 66’s newer establishments, and they are able to SHIP to their customers! (No need to lug those heavy soda bottles home any longer!)

In terms of Route 66’s life through Highland Park, the community was blessed with three different alignments of Mother Road. The first was the Transitional Alignment which was in place from 1932-1934 and went through the heart of the community on what was then Pasadena Avenue. A variety of factors moved the highway away temporarily, only to see it come back to the downtown Highland Park area from 1936-1940 along the now-named Figueroa Avenue (the former Pasadena Avenue). Then, in 1940, Route 66 moved to that wide, fast slab of concrete known as the Arroyo Seco Parkway, where it would remain until 1964 when the highway would be shortened to its new terminus in Pasadena (thus again making a Route 66 first for Highland Park – one of the first towns to see its Mother Road completely decommissioned!).

For more information on the places listed above, check out their websites listed below.

Southwest Museum: http://www.friendsofthesouthwestmuseum.com/

Sycamore Grove Park: http://www.yelp.com/biz/sycamore-grove-park-los-angeles

Arroyo Seco Parkway: http://www.arroyoseco.org/asparkway.htm

Highland Park Historic Preservation Overlay Zone: http://preservation.lacity.org/hpoz/la/highland-park-garvanza

Highland Theater: http://www.highlandtheatres.com/

Lummis Home (El Alisal), home of the Historical Society of Southern California: http://www.socalhistory.org/historical-sites/lummis-home.html

Chicken Boy: http://www.chickenboy.com/

Soda Pop Stop: http://www.sodapopstop.com/home.cfm

Information courtesy of 66 Productions / www.Route66LosAngeles.com

 

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