Conservation, Recreation, Education And Transportation Expo Greenway
Dean Howell’s Expo Greenway Thesis
CREATE EXPO GREENWAY
History of the EXPOSITION RIGHT OF WAY (and Environs)
In 1875, the Los Angeles and Independence Railway gained and used the Right of Way to connect Los Angeles with Santa Monica. In the Expo Greenway area, the Right of Way crossed pastoral Rancho La Ballona, south of Rancho Rincon de los Bueyes. Maps from (Rancho Rincon de los Bueyes) and (United States Geological Survey) show a stream-fed pond near where Bradbury and Rountree Roads now intersect Northvale Road.
The Los Angeles Public Library Photo Database contains (among several more) the photograph to the left dated March 15, 1939 showing “A view of pastures, railroad tracks, and utility poles looking south from the NW corner of La Lomita Ranch in Palms on a partly cloudy day.” (Visit for more pictures and information.)
The latter area is modern day Westwood Gardens, between Overland Avenue and Westwood Boulevard.
In May 1958, the Los Angeles Times reported negotiations between Los Angeles’ Board of Library Commissioners and owners of the “Rainey property” at 2950 Overland Avenue for the new Palms Library. That same month, the City’s Recreation and Parks Commission determined to create a park either on the Rainey property or at Overland and Rose Avenues to the south. (Garnet and Marjorie “Marge” Rainey were regulars in Los Angeles’ society pages for decades.) Mayor Poulson preferred the Rainey property, siding with Westwood Gardens Civic Association over the Palms Citizens Advisory Committee. In September 1958, Mrs. Rainey sought rezoning to build 144 apartments on the property, and, in October 1958, the City Council approved condemning the land for park purposes. By December 1958, the parties agreed that the Recreation and Parks Department would buy the 4.7 acre Rainey property for $302,500 (about $2.3 million in 2011 dollars), with the Los Angeles Times reporting that residents had “been after such a facility for the Palms-Rancho Park communities since 1947-48, when the Rancho Park Golf Course was being designed and constructed.”
In 1959, the City named the park "Palms Park," instead of Palms Pioneer Park, which was the name preferred by the Palms Chamber of Commerce. Also in 1960, the City funded converting the Rainey house into a clubhouse. The City demolished the remaining Rainey property structures to erect a new recreation center. (A negative declaration was published on March 1, 1979 to “replace the existing outdated structure.”)
The first sanctioned BMX bicycle racing in the United States, if not the world, ran around a track at Palms Park on July 10, 1969. (A Facebook page is dedicated to that history.) Wikipedia’s BMX racing page reported (as of October 2, 2013):
On July 10, 1969, a group of boys riding their Schwinn Sting-Ray bicycles in Palms Park in West Los Angeles wanted to race. A park attendant, Ronald Mackler, a teenager with motorcycle motocross (MX) experience, helped them organize. Palms Park became to BMX as Elysian Fields is to American baseball, for at that moment Bicycle Motocross racing was born. By 1973, entrance fees of US$4.50 (which included a US$1.00 insurance fee for the year) for a 10-week season of Thursday-night racing was charged, and the top three racers in the season were given trophies. Then a new season of 10 weeks would start the following Thursday.
The track operated well into the 1980s largely unchanged, including the lack of a modern starting gate.
Palms Rancho Park Library
Palms needed a larger library, and a voter-passed $6.4 million bond issue in 1957 provided funding for it. Because the Rainey property northeast of Overland Avenue and National Boulevard was “the most central site in proximity to the community, and at the same time … of equal distance from existing branches at Mar Vista, West Los Angeles and Robertson,” in 1958 the Board of Library Commissioners favored the Rainey property for a library. The Palms community wanted the facility closer to its core, but to no avail. In October 1959, the City decided to acquire more land and put the Palms Library next to Palms Park. A year later, the coming (c. 1965) Santa Monica Freeway led to relocating the planned library from the park’s southwest corner to its northwest corner.
Two Octobers later, ground was broken for the Palms-Rancho Park library. Pictured are Linda Wallace (age 3) in front of Library Commission President Albert A. Le Vine; Councilwoman Rosalind Wyman; Ralph Grogdon and Bill Rust of the Westwood Gardens Civic Association; Bill Highes of the Palms Chamber of Commerce; and Eloise Gillham, of the Rancho Park Chamber of Commerce. The 6400 square foot library was dedicated on August 12, 1964. A couple of generations later, on November 25, 2002, its two-story 10,500 square foot replacement opened on the same site. The upstairs meeting room was named for Cheviot Hills neighbor, literary legend, and longtime patron Ray Bradbury, pictured speaking at the library in 1972 and again when he was honored in 2009 in his namesake room.
The grassroots organization Save Our Station saved the Palms Depot, one of The Palms’ earliest structures. The depot now serves as the visitor center and store for the Heritage Square Museum. Read Ralph Melching’s articles in Timepoints and Wheel Clicks (telling of the move), and David Cameron’s article in Wheel Clicks (setting the original construction date).
Palms – Stories by the original Palms
Historian, David I. Worsfold
(1914-1964 – in nine short parts)
For the authoritative history of The Palms, get George Garrigues’ Los Angeles's the Palms Neighborhood (Arcadia Publishing, 2009)
Marshall P. Riddick Youth CENTER
Built as a recreation center or “canteen” for a National Guard anti-aircraft gun battalion stationed in Los Angeles to protect the coast, the Marshall P. Riddick Youth Center now provides a meeting place for children in the Overland Avenue Elementary School community.
Washington State National Guardsmen arrived at Camp Haan in Riverside, California, weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor
"The regiment … arrived at Camp Haan on 22 November 1941 where it was assigned to the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade (AA). * * * In May of 1942, the Commanding General, Western Defense Command, was directed to reorganize elements of the 205th into a semi-mobile regiment and bring the regiment up to a full strength of three battalions. …. In the meantime the 205th was ordered to Los Angeles on temporary duty. On January 15, 1943, this was made the regiment’s permanent station. [¶] On 10 September 1943,… 1st Battalion, 205th was redesignated the 770th Anti-Aircraft Gun Battalion …. On 10 February 1944, the 770th Gun Battalion was inactivated at Los Angeles….” (Official History of the 205th Coast Artillery Regiment (Anti-Aircraft) 1941-1945, Washington National Guard (Military Department, State of Washington, July 1983).)
The Guardsmen erected the recreation building from “scrap material” on Overland Hill (aka Lowe’s Hill) south of where the Santa Monica Freeway is now located
“One hundred soldiers In Battery D stationed at Cheviot Hills owe their new recreation hall on Overland Ave. to their own ingenuity and skill, coupled with the generosity of the neighborhood. They have erected the main portion of a recreation building from scrap material, using huge crates in which airplane wings are shipped, old telephone poles and railroad ties.” (Los Angeles Times, January 9, 1944, p. B2, “Soldiers Use Scrap to Build Own Center, Neighbors of Cheviot Hills Station Pitch In to Help and Staff Canteen”) “During the seventh year of the Garden Club, 1943-1944, our course was largely charted by the war’s necessities. [¶] …. We continued helping at the Overland Canteen until it was phased out at end of the year.” (Cheviot Hills Garden Club History (Thompson, Pat, c. 1996) p. “1943-1944.”)
The Army donated the building to the Overland Avenue School community, which moved it to its current location
“This will be your authority to remove that certain building (no. 8), described as a Recreation Building, located on property leased by the United States of America, at Overland and Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles, California. [¶] It is understood that subject building was erected by members of the 770th A.A.A. Gun Battalion from materials donated to said Battalion, and as evidenced by letter dated 8 February 1944, signed by Thomas P. Iullucci, Captain of said Battalion and custodian of said building, the building was donated to Crescent Bay Council of Boy Scouts. [¶] It is requested that the building be removed from present location on or before 20 September 1944.” (August 23, 1944, letter from Army Corp of Engineers to Crescent Bay Council, Boy Scouts of America.) With broad community support, including the Overland School principal (Mrs. Edna Van Dyke), Overland parents, Boy and Girl Scout troops, LA City Councilman Harold Harby, Heyler Realty, and Anawalt Lumber, the building was moved and fitted out. Heyler Realty brokered a discounted price from the neighborhood’s developer for the vacant land. Parents held newspaper drives, rag drives, etc. to raise $5,000 to pay for the empty lot and costs of moving the building. The Cheviot Hills Garden Club helped, too. “The year 1944-45 brought increased responsibility to war projects…. [¶] ... $150 to the Riddick Youth Center. This building was moved from its location on the Overland hill where it was an Army observation post to be near Overland School. Fathers in our area helped with manual labor in the project.” (Cheviot Hills Garden Club History (Thompson, Pat, c. 1996) p. “1944-1945.”)
“After eight months of hard work on the part of the committee in charge of rehabilitation, with the faithful support of girl and boy Scouts of the district, as well as parents, the Marshall P. Riddick Youth Center … was opened this week for a benefit dessert bridge sponsored by the Cheviot Hills Women’s club. [¶] Formal dedication of the building is planned for the middle of June, to which all residents of the Overland Avenue school district are invited. [¶] The building, a 40x60 structure, has been completely remodeled, with concrete foundation, steps and walks, exterior stucco and plastering on the inside, reinforced roof, lighting and plumbing installed, lavatories, kitchen, new windows, doors and hardware. [¶] Arrangements have also been made for the purchase of the lot on which the building stands, payments to be amortized over time.” (Riddick Youth Center Dedication Plans Made, Rancho Park News (June 7, 1945).)
The Overland Avenue School community organized to own, maintain, and operate the center for the benefit of area children
“Marshall P. Riddick Youth Center ... and all of its business and activities are to be operated and conducted in the promotion of its charitable objectives and exclusively for the purpose of owning, maintaining and operating the building and premises known as the Marshall P. Riddick Youth Center, located at 2634 Overland Avenue, Los Angeles, California, for the general benefit of school-age children attending the Overland Avenue Elementary School and those children residing within the Overland Avenue School District ….” (Amended and Restated Bylaws of Marshall P. Riddick Youth Center, a California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation.)
Marshall P. Riddick Youth Center Named for Fallen Son Marshall Pruit Riddick
The youth center was named for Marshall Pruit Riddick, an Overland Elementary School graduate killed in the line of duty in November 1943 while training as a World War II aviator. Marshall P. Riddick was an Eagle Scout and his family was active in the community, including the American Legion (his father had been commander of the Cheviot Hills post) and Overland Avenue School PTA. The building remains a tribute to Marshall and to others who gave their lives in service.
Cheviot Hills area Timeline and Maps
(Click maps or links – large files)
December 7, 1821 – Bernardo Higuera and Cornelio Lopez petition for Rancho Rincon de los Bueyes land grant from Mexico.
On December 5, 1821, Bernardo Higuera and Cornelio Lopez petitioned military commander José de la Guerra y Noriega (1779-1858) to grant them Rancho Rincon de los Bueyes. (Bernardo’s father, Joaquin Higuera, had been alcalde (mayor and chief judicial official) of the Pueblo in 1800.) The petition read:
To the Snr. CapN
Bernardo Higuera and Cornelio Lopez, citizens of the Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles, and under the command of our honor, with the greatest respect and submission before your Excellency, appear and say that, possessing at the present time a number of cattle and not having any place so as properly to be able to keep them with a grazing ground of sufficient extent . . . . Therefore ask and beseech your extreme clemency to be pleased to grant to them the tract within this vicinity called Corral Viejo del Rincon so as that they may be able to place a corral for herding the said cattle unless it does some injury to the neighboring residents — a favor they expect from your extreme goodness and for which they will recognize themselves very grateful. May God preserve you many years.
Two days later
Noriega made an entry on the margin
of the petition: “Pueblo de Nuestra
(W.W. Robinson, Culver City, California: A Calendar of Events: in which is Included, Also, the Story of Palms and Playa Del Rey Together with Rancho La Ballona and Rancho Rincon de Los Bueyes (Title Guarantee and Trust Company, 1941).)
c. 1840s Diseño del sitio nombrado Rincon de los Buelles – Shows drainage, buildings, adjoining ranchos, etc. Relief shown pictorially. Pen-and-ink and watercolor on tracing paper. (U.S. District Court. California, Southern District. Land case 131 SD, page 118; land case map A-1146 (Bancroft Library).)
1849 – José De Arnaz buys a portion of Rancho Rincon de los Bueyes northwest of Washington Boulevard from Secundino Higuera
Don José de Arnaz (1820-1895) was a merchant, medic, war hero and rancher. He is best known for his holdings around San Buenaventura (Ventura) California. His memoirs were transcribed by historian H. H. Bancroft in 1867 and are at the University of California’s Bancroft Library. Nellie Van de Grift Sanchez translated “Memoirs of a Merchant” into English.
1867 – José De Arnaz buys a portion of Rancho Rincon de los Bueyes northwest of Washington Boulevard from Francisco Higuera.
1875 – Rancho Rincon de Los Bueyes Map showing Arnaz subdivisions – Cheviot Hills will be at the far left, under “Rincon.”
1896 – United States Geological Survey (USGS) Map – Click the map. Cheviot Hills will be in the middle, under “Rincon.”
1934 USGS (full) Map (very large file)
1939 WPA Land Use Map
1946 Culver City charter city campaign map
Los Angeles’ “Cheviot Hills” neighborhood is a fusion of several residential
tracts that were developed beginning in the early-1920s. First came Country
Club Highlands (1923), Cheviot
Hills (1924), and Monte-Mar
Vista (1924). These three
tracts retained their separate identities until at least the late
1930s. In 1938 a fourth tract was added
to the south: Cheviot
Knolls. The California Country Club
Estates tract opened in 1952, followed by the final nearly two-dozen homes on
the east in around 1968. The City Los
Angeles Department of Public Works provides access to more tract maps. Because if its proximity to movie studios,
location shooting has always been a part of the neighborhood, perhaps beginning
with Cheviot Hills resident Stan Laurel and his comedy partner Oliver Hardy
making 1928’s “The
Finishing Touch” in Monte-Mar Vista, in which Monte-Mar Vista developer W.
R. McConnell’s 2728 McConnell Drive house doubled as the hospital next to which
Laurel & Hardy noisily built (and destroyed) a house in the nascent
neighborhood. The pair made “Bacon
Grabbers” at 10340 Bannockburn Drive, Cheviot Hills, in 1929.
In 1912, prominent Palms residents Abraham Lincoln (A.L.) King and his wife Frankie L. King filed a tract map covering what would become Cheviot Hills in the next decade. At the end of 1923 (the year the Ambassador Annexation added the Palms Hills area to Los Angeles) the Kings filed another tract map for their Palms Hills land; this time they included planned roads: Motor Avenue and Cheviot Drive. In 1924, the Kings sold their undeveloped subdivision to Frans Nelson & Sons for $273,000. It was a good investment for Frans Nelson & Sons. As the Swedish-born retired banker turned real estate developer recounted in his biography, “We had to spend over $400,000 in improvements such as sidewalks, curbs, streets, electroliers, water and gas mains, and power lines. But as fast as the utilities went in the homes went up.” In April 1927, the Los Angeles Times article showing Frans Nelson’s own house in Cheviot Hills reported that although “Cheviot Hills has been developed only a short time, 80 per cent of the property has been sold and already seventy-one homes, ranging in value from $10,000 to $50,000, have been erected.”
Promoted for its proximity to several country clubs and movie studios, and for its “convenience to Los Angeles and the beach,” lots in the “finest residential district between Los Angeles and the sea” were advertised from $1780, with homes beginning at $10,500.
Frans Nelson & Sons, advertised that their subdivision was named for its “natural rolling knolls that are so similar to the Cheviot Hills which separate England and Scotland.” But the selection of the name Cheviot Hills was more prosaic, according to Frans Nelson. “When we got ready to put this new property on the market, my sales organization numbered about thirty…. We decided to let them help select a name for the new subdivision and I arranged a contest among them for that purpose. …. One of our salesmen was a Scotchman by the name of Simpson. He turned in the name of a district in his homeland and when this name, Cheviot Hills, was finally selected offered the further suggestion, producing a map of Scotland, that the streets be given Scotch names.”
1938, the Los Angeles Times showed
as typifying the
City’s growth; the photograph conspicuously shows the area where Cheviot Knolls
was about to be developed. The original
Cheviot Hills tract is distinguished by “Frans-Nelson & Sons” stampings in sidewalks
In May 17, 1925, a newspaper article promoted Monte Mar Vista:The new tract would be “bounded on the northeast by the Hillcrest Country Club, on the west by the Rancho Country Club and on the south by the California Country Club.”
Opened for sale in 1926, Monte-Mar Vista (Mountain Sea View) was advertised as the “.” Subdivided by W.R. McConnell, Fred W. Forrester, and John P. Hayes, the Frank Meline Company was developing Monte-Mar Vista by 1928. Architect and developer Frank L. Meline was Alphonzo Bell’s first sales agent in Bel-Air, and he subdivided many other high-end developments, including Pacific Palisades’ California Riviera and Castellammare. Cheviot Hills developer Frans Nelson’s grandson (also named Frans Nelson – his father was George Nelson) told the author of this site that Ole Hanson was another Monte-Mar Vista developer and a friend of the elder Frans Nelson. Ole Hanson, a former Seattle mayor, is better known for founding San Clemente in 1925.
Monte-Mar Vista homes were advertised for their proximity to Pico Boulevard, “which is close at hand, yet far enough to allow freedom from the noise and confusion.” With “concrete winding boulevards” and “not a pole in sight – utilities are underground,” homes on streets such as McConnell and Forrester were “priced for quick sale at $3900 and up.”
Original Monte Mar residents included “Banker, Financier” H. H. Cotton, who was later president of the Beverly-Arnaz Land Company, a syndicate including Dominguez family heirs, formed to purchase the Arnaz Tract. Malibu heiress Rhoda Rindge Adamson was forced to sell the Arnaz Tract, held through the Marblehead Company, when she could not use it as oil land to pay off debts. “Long coveted by realty developers, the 330 remaining acres of the old rancho constituted the last important unsubdivided area in western Los Angeles.” Also on the Beverly-Arnaz Land Company board was noted Los Angeles developer Walter H. Leimert, who developed the Arnaz Tract as Beverlywood and had earlier developed Cheviot Knolls.
Country Club Highlands
Country Club Highlands was developed by general contractor Hall Johnson Co. Advertising said, ”The wise buyers know that they can't equal the combination of low prices, high elevation, beautiful view, right on Pico Boulevard, the airline to the beaches, with the Wm. Fox Studios across the street, and three country clubs near by!” and “homesites for as low as $750, $112.50 down, 5 years to pay balance. Some advertised benefits remain – albeit under different names. The “air line to the beach” is today’s Expo Line; Wm. Fox Studios mostly remains as Twentieth Century Fox (the north side was sold off to become Century City). Another advertisement urged, “ .”
Cheviot Knolls’ 120 homesites came to the south side of the neighborhood in 1939. In 1940, a view lot was advertised at $1125, and a “California ranch-style home – two bedrooms and den – 1 1/2 baths – tile kitchen – large walled-in rear porch” was priced at $7250.
Knolls was owned
by the Francis Land Company, and developed by Walter H. Leimert. The Walter H. Leimert Company
may be more known for the eponymous development to the south and east, Leimert
Park; however, it also developed Beverlywood,
to the east of Cheviot Hills. The Francis Land
Company was incorporated by Henry O’Melveny in 1928 to help manage the Rancho
San Pedro holdings of Dominguez family scion Maria de los Reyes Dominguez de Francis. She also had property on Dominguez Hill,
making her substantially wealthier when oil was discovered there in the
1920s. “Due to her immense
wealth, she had to pay more income taxes than any other woman in the United
States. At the time of her death on June
4, 1933, her estate was worth $15,000,000.”
California Country Club Estates
The next tract added to the area was the California Country Club Estates, which replaced its namesake – the California Country Club – in 1952. Considered part of “Cheviot Hills” by some, others exclude it especially because it has its own homeowners association, California Country Club Homes Association, which was formed to enforce the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) attached to each lot. According to a contemporaneous Los Angeles Times article, Sanford Adler’s 410 home California Country Club Estates development – valued at $15,000,000 – was sold out by 1955.
Hillcrest View Estates
The Hillcrest View Estates development was squeezed between California Country Club Estates to the south and the Chaminade Catholic High School grounds to the north. On June 5, 1955, the Los Angeles Times reported that developer Sanford D. Adler had completed three models on Medill Place and Anchor Avenue and had twenty homes (priced from $34,000 to $50,000) under construction “in Cheviot Hills, on Club Drive at Medill Place, adjoining the Hillcrest Country Club.”
CHEVIOT HILLS POST #501 OF THE AMERICAN LEGION
BEVERLY HILLS COUNTRY CLUB
1925 (October 7) – Palms (Hughes Estate – currently Le Lycée Français de Los Angeles’ Overland Campus)