As part of our Mission to share the history of El Sereno with the community and public, we plan to present a new picture/historic document every month. This will allow us, the El Sereno Historical Society, to continue sharing recent historic discoveries.
But more importantly it will allow you, our readers and supporters, the chance to have any hidden or long-forgotten historic gems be shared with our great El Sereno community. Sharing and learning about our history is a community effort, and we thank all those who contribute and add to our growing historic community's website.
Although no date is provided, it seems like a very old picture, probably from the early 1920s. You can see what looks like an automobile in the far distance at the center of the photo.
What caught our attention is the fact that there seems to be a graveyard to the center-right. You can make out what appear to be headstones. The picture was taken on Turquoise street, most likely looking south towards the intersection of Soto and Mission. We can't say for sure, but a good guess puts it near what is now the Soto St. Bridge overpass. The red arrows are pointing to the headstones and the green arrow is pointing out what may be Ascot Hills along Soto St.
We know from our research that many of the early Los Angeles cemeteries were developed with only the headstones removed; the coffins remained where they were buried. No historical records have been located concerning the name or the date of what could be a cemetery in this area, but there are a number of lots that are still undeveloped adjacent to the busy street. Maybe someone knows better than to build over these lots?
If you have any information concerning this picture or about any cemeteries in this area of El Sereno/Lincoln Heights, please let us know at info@ElSerenoHistoricalSociety.org.
The pictures above come courtesy of the friendly and hard-working employees at Arrowhead Brass. The company is located in El Sereno, at 5147 Alhambra Avenue, between Lombardy Blvd and Belleglade Ave.
The pictures above show one of the few surviving murals in El Sereno, as well as the artist's drawing of the mural and the company's building where the mural is located. The mural was painted many years ago, during a time when murals and the artist behind them were better appreciated. Now-a-days, murals are deemed eye-sores and graffiti and the artist labeled vandals. Most of the community's historic murals have disappeared, even the ones that were painted by talented artistwho put a lot of quality, meaning, and care into the murals. Even the murals that were painted with the permission and blessing of the building's owner have vanished. A lot of times the murals are destroyed at the hands of none-other than our own city employees. The city's anti-graffiti trucks have been known to stop and paint over these artistic gems, just because a knuckle-head has tagged up the mural or right next to the mural. Others have been erased by those who don't know the value of these art-works and what the murals mean to the community. The mural is then lost forever; it's meaning and artistic beauty never to be shared again.
The 26 year old gem (mural) presented this month has survived the many hazards that has destroyed other murals by having 2 things on its side- luck and love; the luck of being safely locked behind a steel gate when work-time is over and the love someone felt towards the mural to have put it an a place where it could be safely guarded by a gate. Luck and love has brought the mural to this day, where it could be presented and appreciated by so many in the community.
Though the mural is not as old or historic as other murals in LA, it is a unique piece of our community's history and deserves to be recognized. Hopefully the mural will survive so that someday it will be officially recognized and preserved as a unique historic piece of art work in El Sereno. The El Sereno Historical Society's mission is to help preserve our community's history. The history of our El Sereno Community does not stop on any specific date. The history of a community is the Past, Present, and Future of that community. We seek to preserve not only the very old history, but also the community's more recent history. In doing so, the El Sereno Historical Society hopes to educate our community about the value of preserving our unique local landmarks and buildings. Hopefully, many, many years from now, these cherished landmarks will still be around and can be shared with the new up-and-coming generation; to be appreciated as part of El Sereno's long historical legacy.
We would like to send our thanks and appreciation to Rick Harrington-Director of Operations, Valeria, Sandra, and all the great employees at Arrowhead Brass & Plumbing. Not only for having chosen our community as the place for the company's location; but also for their friendly treatment and generous attitudes. Below is a brief history about the company and the story behind this majestic mural. The words below have been shared with us by Rick and his staff. The El Sereno Historical Society felt that the employees at Arrowhead Brass & Plumbing did a superb writing job and editing out any part of their words would be a dis-service to our audience. We hope you enjoy this local artistic gem and the story behind it's creation at Arrowhead Brass & Plumbing. Thank you.
Arrowhead Brass Product's Mural
For over 76 years, Arrowhead Brass Products has been known for its top quality products made and assembled in the USA. Arrowhead Brass was started in a garage in 1936 by Frank V. Enterante. The company's main business is in the manufacturing of hose bibbs, sill faucets, boiler drains, compression stops, washing machine valves and log lighter valves, standard and anti-siphon frost proof hydrants and vacuum breakers. In 1982 the company expanded its sales East of the Rockies and besides assembling, also began manufacturing. In recent years, Arrowhead has added new foundry and assembly equipment which has increased its efficiency and productivity through automation. The company's corporate office is located in East Los Angeles, California.
In 1986, the owner of the company, Lou Enterante, hired a young local artist by the initials of "LUT" to paint a mural in the front entrance of our company's Arrowhead Brass building.
The artist was painting a mural across from the company's building and Lou, interested by his ability, asked the young artist if he would do a mural for the front entrance of our company.
The young artist, enthusiastic by the interest from Lou, asked to be given a tour of the company, so the mural could have a sentimental and personal value to employees and the company itself. Sure enough, to this day, the mural is a great representation of our foundry and the hard working employees that still continue to work for us, so many years after the mural's creation.
Arrowhead Brass & Plumbing is an American Company that manufactures only American made products and proudly provides American jobs. Arrowhead Brass & Plumbing will continue providing jobs here in the United States for years to come.
If you have any information about this mural or about the artist "LUT" who created it, please let us know at info@ElSerenoHistoricalSociety.org.
For more information about Arrowhead Brass & Plumbing, visit their website at www.arrowheadbrass.com.
What's something exciting your business offers? Say it here.
Give customers a reason to do business with you.
This month our Picture of the Month serves a twofold purpose. First, is the fact that the community of El Sereno has one of the longest running Fourth of July Parade. It's been running for so long that we actually are still in the process of confirming the total number of years that our annual Fourth of July Parade has taken place here in El Sereno. By our count, this year marks the 53th year of the honored event (If anyone out there remembers different or can help us with addition info about our historic Fourth of July Parade, please contact us). For this year's theme, the Fourth of July Parade honors El Sereno's military men and women, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country.
Most of us who grew up in El Sereno remember this annual event and looked forward to seeing family and friends be part of the parade, as well as the good times spent hanging out and making Seasons in the Sun at the end of Parade. There was time to visit the different booths after the Parade and many of us remember those special booths that sometimes required more than one visit: The Food Booths. Not having our Fourth of July Parade would be like not having a birthday celebration for a dear friend or family member.
Did someone mention birthday and celebration? Well, this brings us to the Picture of the Month's second purpose. It just so happens that this year's Fourth of July Parade is taking place on the same day as our official El Sereno Day, making this years' parade that much more special. The resolution for such honor was presented to the City Council by Councilman Jose Huizar back in 2009 (El Sereno Day).
The very special event will culminate with what is fast becoming a tradition of its own: The Spectacular Fireworks Show at the end of the evening. The community of El Sereno has the honor and privilege of hosting its 5th Annual Fireworks Show. Thanks to Councilman Jose Huizar, our community of El Sereno has enjoyed this display since 2007. Before Councilman Huizar reinstated the Fireworks Show, the community of El Sereno had gone 25 years without one, officially (El Sereno Show). Most of us from Da Ole' Skool remember these years of having to make our own fireworks show, with many times the only thing spectacular about them being the many close calls and unfortunate burns that never failed to happen.
We hope we can all have a safer Fourth of July this year knowing that all we have to do is find a spot at the park (or the nearest hill) and safely enjoy the free and impressive display.
The El Sereno Historical Society would like to thank the hard-working and under-appreciated members of the El Sereno Bi-Centennial Committee as well as Councilman Jose Huizar for making this year's Fourth of July Parade and Fireworks Show possible.
For more info and details about this year's Fourth of July Parade and Fireworks Show, please visit the Community Events section. You can find a short-cut right below.
(NOT INCLUDED--Visit ABOUT US-COMMUNITY EVENTS AND INFO for current Community Events)
The feature for this month is not actually a photo, but a video sent to us by a concerned resident who created the video to inform the community about the threat Elephant Hill currently faces. More importantly, the video is also to make the community aware of the current destruction and development taking place on what was supposed to be our "Saved" Elephant Hill.
The facts are that even-though we heard much about Elephant Hill having been saved and their was a lot of media attention when L.A. City Council decided to buy the 19 acres of land developers wanted to build on, the total area covering what is known as Elephant Hill is more like 100 acres. That means that even-though the City has bought about 19 acres (at the cost of about 9 million dollars), there are still roughly 81 acres of privately owned land that may still be developed (For more information about Elephant Hill visit--L.A. Times:El Sereno Saves the Heavens, LA.StreetsBlog.org, NELA Lives!, L.A. Times: City Council/El Sereno) .
More alarming is the fact that some of this land IS being developed as we speak. Bulldozers have already stripped away and graded part of a hillside and have cleared trees and bushes to make way for the new developments. The problem is that the community is NOT aware of this and no one from the City or Councilman's office is informing the community.
Thankfully, there are those in the community who care and want others to know, which is why we chose to present the video and some history/information concerning Elephant Hill. We hope you enjoy the video, BUT, more than anything, we hope you get informed and start asking our Councilman's Office questions about Elephant Hills' current destruction.
"Elephant Hill" is a simple title referring to over 100 acres of open space sandwiched between El Sereno and South Pasadena in Los Angeles. These hills have not seen any new construction for 30 years and were the subject of a major lawsuit against the city from unscrupulous developers hoping to carve up the hills with million dollar luxury homes. Concerned citizens were relieved to hear that the City settled with the developers to purchase these 20 acres, (5 of which have been sold to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy) although many are unaware the the largest area of "Elephant Hill", the remaining 80 acres, is now being primed for new development via City Planning.
As we speak, illegal pre-emptive grading has destroyed an entire hillside that overlooks a historic valley (Yoakum and Harriman). In order to gain perspective on the importance of saving this open space and it's eco-system, we must look at the history of these much debated hills.
In the earliest records available, the Spanish from local missions grazed their "Churro" in these hills resulting in the destruction of native vegetation and introduction of Mustard and annual grasses. Very quickly the home of the native Tongva was forever changed. As more settlers began pouring west in the 1800's the landscape and history of Los Angeles was swiftly buried under hasty construction, re-routing of water, and oil derricks.
El Sereno was called Bairdstown until it's incorporation in 1915. It was an early Los Angeles pioneer settlement that included "Elephant Hill". In the valley at the end of Harriman Ave was one of the earliest African American settlements in Los Angeles. Over a dozen cabins filled the valley and saw the birth of Eldridge Cleaver and provided respite for BB King during his time in the city. This history has long since been bulldozed due to fire concerns.
There is a sister set of hills in fact that was razed and back-filled in the 1970s and cluttered with massive condominiums. Due to the unstable Monterey Shale that makes up these hills and illegal back-filling, many of these buildings settled resulting in the largest lawsuit the City had ever seen. With the arrival of the Monterey Hills Condos, Elephant Hill was the last remaining open space in El Sereno north of Huntington Drive. Luckily for local residents south of Huntington Dr., the State purchased and has preserved a 150 acre area off of Eastern Ave previously owned by LADWP known as Ascot Reservoir.
Now "Elephant Hill" stands alone as refuge for countless native bird species including owls, red-tail haws, and falcons. There are healthy coyote populations that migrate between Highland Park's Debb's Park and "Elephant Hill", dependent on the healthy populations of rabbits, opossums, ground squirrels, gray squirrels, gophers, and gopher snakes. They are often seen hunting in the aforementioned valley at the end of Harriman Ave. which carries the majority of the ground squirrel population. Unfortunately, this valley is the first on the list to be developed and is currently being destroyed by illegal grading.
Most notable however is the fact that these hills have been enjoyed by generations in this community and continue to be a retreat for the city-weary residents of El Sereno. This is a blue collar community that takes pride in it's preservation of this space and the flora and fauna that provide an unlikely oasis in this urban sprawl. To see it destroyed by City Planning and out-of-town developers hoping to build mini-mansions the residents themselves could never afford is nothing short of thievery.
Unfortunately, most people are unaware that "Elephant Hill" has NOT been saved. The only way to save these hills is through a concerted community effort and an educated campaign which might inform and galvanize City Council and it's constituents. Dedicating 5 acres out of 110 is a good start but by no means a victory.
Video and history about Elephant Hill are courtesy of Concerned Resident. We thank this person(s) for their time and effort, and for caring about our Community of El Sereno.
BELOW: Recent photos showing the damage already done by the grading as well as the physical change to the hill that is caused as a result of grading. Even adding one or two homes on these historic hills has a ever-lasting effect on the hill itself and the surrounding environment.
Not so long ago, on a cool May 4, 2012 Friday night, we received an e-mail from Rick Galvan. The purpose of his e-mail was to inform me that a certain photo on the El Sereno Historical Society’s webpage was incorrectly captioned. The e-mail read:
The 70's Wilson section has a photo labeled as "Group photo of El Sereno youth basketball players". It is actually the 1976 3A City Champs Football team at their banquet. I am standing next to Assemblyman Richard Alatorre.
The e-mail about the photo was a little puzzling; the events in the photo having taken place before my time. It turned out to be a long night; the thought of having incorrect information didn’t allow sleep to set in. The photo is part of the Los Angeles Public Library’s El Sereno’s Collection; it couldn’t be wrong coming from such well known and trusted Department. So began my research.
Since that fateful night, what started out as research about a photograph led me to rediscover those years in Wilson High School’s football history that can be described as nothing more than unbelievable.
During the 1970s, Wilson’s football coach was none other than the legendary Vic Cuccia. Coach Cuccia led the Mighty Mules to a 39-game winning streak, taking the team to win the City’s Section 3-A championship in 1975, 1976, and 1977. That’s undefeated 3-A City Champions--three years in a row!
Cuccia’s own son, Ron Cuccia, was the team’s quarterback for those three years, during which time he set a City and state record for passing, accounted for 145 touchdowns, and set a national record for total offense with 11,451 yards. What’s more, the Mighty Mules went on to win the City championship title in 1978.
During his 22 years as the football coach (1956-1977), Vic Cuccia compiled a 151-42-6 record. He was also a teacher, serving all his 44 teaching years at Wilson High School. Coach Vic Cuccia, who grew up in El Sereno, was honored for his dedication and work on September 1999. Wilson High School’s football stadium was renamed in his honor (the football field had already been dedicated in honor of Paul Barthel, a former Wilson teacher). Coach Vic Cuccia passed away on January, 2008 at the age of 80.
After researching and learning about these years, it’s no surprise that someone like Rick Galvan, who was there as a player, would want to make sure these unforgettable moments were remembered accurately. For all the Mighty Mules who played on the team during those years and for those who were fortunate enough to see them play, who were there to feel the thrill of those years, the El Sereno Historical Society is set on making sure the caption is corrected.
For The Record.
The El Sereno Historical Society would like to recognize Rick Galvan, Julio Torres, and the El Sereno Branch Librarian, Gene Estrada, for helping us set the record straight on the LAPL photo’s caption. We hope the new caption will read:
“Group photo of El Sereno’s Wilson High School football team in 1976, shown celebrating another undefeated season as 3-A City Champions. Assemblyman Richard Alatorre is at far left. Led by Coach Vic Cuccia, the team went on a 39-game winning streak, becoming undefeated City Section 3-A Champions 3 years in a row; 1975, ’76, & ‘77.”
One Final Note: The Mighty Wilson Mules ALSO went on to win the 3-A City Championship in 1978, but it wasn't under Vic Cuccia and they were no longer undefeated. But it just goes to show that the team was such a power-house with such momentum that with or without Cuccia's leadership, they were still a force to contend with. Must have been something to see them play...
The photo above comes from USC's Digital Archive. The caption states--Photo of a view along what appears to be a water-flow channel near an unidentified residence, [s.d.]. At center, a deep and narrow dirt trench is visible extending towards a collection of buildings in the distance, where they abut the edge of nearby dirt road. While the residence might be unknown, the location where this picture was taken is not. This picture offers a rare glimpse of Ascot Hills as it used to be before LADWP bought up the land. We can see that although sparsely settled, people were living among the hills and valleys of what we now know as Ascot Hills Park. Besides the photo(s), we would also like to share a little more information on the history of Ascot Hills, courtesy of the Ascot Park Draft Environmental Report.
SITE HISTORY: The LADWP began acquiring real estate within and around the existing Ascot property in the early 1920s. An earthen dam was constructed in the north-central part of the property in the late 1920s to create an approximately seven-acre open surface water storage reservoir. A caretaker's house was constructed north of the reservoir, accessed off Bowman Boulevard. Acquisition of additional parcels around the Ascot property to provide protection for the reservoir water supply continued until the 1950s.
Portions of the original Ascot property have since been disposed of by the LADWP. in 1964, an area southeast of the current property boundary was granted to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which subsequently used the land as the site for the construction of Wilson High School. The perimeter of the existing LADWP Ascot property is entirely fenced.
The reservoir was taken out of service in 1987. It was replaced in generally the same location with a 30.7 acre-foot covered concrete water storage tank, which was completed in 1990. Facilities located in the north-central part of the property, associated with the water storage tank, include a chlorination station and a pumping station. The former caretaker's house also remains on the property, although it is unoccupied. An approximately 30-acre area surrounding the water tank is secured by a fence.
Below are a series of photos showing Ascot Hills prior to LADWP buying up the area (pre-1920s), as well as photos the early 1940s, when the reservoir was reconstructed in order to build a roof to cover the water stored there. We also included a few photos depicting the first water pumped in from the Colorado River and which began to flow to the City in early 1941. This seems to have been another reason for the reservoir's upgrade and happened soon after the completion of the roof over Ascot Hills reservoir.
Many residents of El Sereno and neighbor next door, Lincoln Heights, have driven by this location and probably rarely noticed or questioned the reason why there is a pedestrian tunnel. If you have noticed it, you probably also wondered why only one tunnel was placed along this stretch of road within El Sereno? One would think that the obvious location of the tunnel had a lot to do with the fact that it leads to the front of Huntington Dr. Elementary School. The truth is not as simple as it may seem.
Although Huntington Drive Elementary is an old and historic school, having been built in 1908, the truth is the tunnel was built for the safety of common folk. Not only did a person have to be wary of the ever present Pacific Electric Railway cars that used Huntington Drive to shuttle commuters, they also had to use extreme caution when crossing the gauntlet of speeding motorist. It seems that during this time period, there was a real problem with aggressive and rude drivers speeding home from work between the hours of 5:00 pm-8:00 pm. Local residents of El Sereno and Lincoln Heights who dared cross this section of roadway between 5:00 pm-8:00 pm could be greeted with a very nasty scare, or worse.
The following letter was sent to the LA Times on November 3, 1928, by a John Brookbank, a resident of El Sereno (the article was published in the LA Times on November 11, 1928). The letter highlights the danger a pedestrian faces when crossing this section of Huntington Drive. The writer gives us an example of what might happen to a less than agile pedestrian who dares to cross this section of road and shares his two cents on how he feels about these speeding drivers.
Ironically, though the Pacific Electric Railway cars and tracks are long gone, not much else has changed in terms of the dangers a pedestrian faces when crossing this stretch of roadway. It came as no surprise to see that this pedestrian tunnel in El Sereno is still very much in use today. More than anything, having this tunnel open for pedestrians has probably saved a countless number of our local students from being hurt, or worse, while attempting to cross. The dangers pedestrians faced in 1928 are not as bad compared to the high volume of cars that use Huntington Drive today. If anything, today's higher traffic volume has brought with it a greater danger in the number of rude or reckless drivers that pedestrians are bound to encounter.
We can see from the two photos, taken in 1928 and 2012 respectively, that some modifications have been done to the Fern St. pedestrian tunnel over the years (Fern was called Ferntop in 1928). The most obvious one being the relocation of the stairs leading up to the street. Other than this, the Fern St tunnel remains the same, especially when it comes to the reason it was built: to save lives. It's a great thing to see that a life-saving relic of El Sereno's past--is still serving our community as a life-saver today.
Although our Main Mission is not to be political activist or a Political Watch Group, there comes a time when as residents and/or as members of the El Sereno Historical Society we must speak up and address important concerns and issues affecting our community. There has been a repeating trend in the El Sereno community, where every year less and less Holiday activities and/or events are being funded or even considered. Last year, neither the El Sereno (LA-32) Neighborhood Council nor the City rep, Councilmember Jose Huizar, put any time or money into seeing that the community of El Sereno had at least some Christmas decorations down Huntington Drive or even a traditional decorated Christmas Tree for the community's children to enjoy.
This year is faring no better. Even though the El Sereno Historical Society and members of the Comite Navideno de El Sereno got together, set a plan to have such Holiday decorations, and presented a letter to Councilmember Jose Huizar requested the Christmas decorations and Christmas tree, there was a reply from his office that no money was available. We know that's not at all true.
What doesn't make any sense is that meanwhile other areas of Council District 14 (CD 14) are being funded and given the Holiday decorations every community needs to have, equally for one as for the others. Well, we want to make sure our elected City Representative Jose Huizar is clear on something: Our Children and Our Community deserve the same attention and respect that he has gives to other parts of CD 14. Either he does this equally for ALL or equally for No One.
In light of this continual neglect that elected City Councilmember Jose Huizar shows towards El Sereno, we decided to tell the community of El Sereno and the world that there are still many, many residents who continue to have strong El Sereno Community Pride and Holiday Spirit.
This month's Picture(s) of the Month we will be featuring homes/businesses within the community of El Sereno where the Christmas lights shine bright and the El Sereno Community Pride remains strong. We will continue to add pictures to our El Sereno Community Pride and Holiday Spirit slide show on a daily basis. We welcome anyone who would like to submit a picture of their home or a neighbors home to e-mail it to us at info@ElSereno90032.org (sending the picture in jpeg format would be the easiest way for us to add it to the collection).
We hope you enjoy the slide show and continue to share the El Sereno Community Pride and positive Holiday Spirit and with family, friends, and community members.
Let's make sure our community's residents, as well as the public, know just how much Holiday Spirit and Community Pride the residents of El Sereno continue to have...with or without the help of the ELECTED City official whose job it is to make sure our El Sereno community is clean, safe, proud, and equally represented. We are trying to get as many pictures as we can.
We can't promise to get all the homes showing El Sereno Community Pride and Holiday Spirit, but we will try our best. We will try to revisit the areas already photographed, in case we missed some homes when we passed by the first time.
One request, only if possible and if it's safe to do so, please turn off porch lights; it helps keep the glare off the picture, as well as allowing the Holiday Lights to shine brighter.
We will be adding photos and running the slide show until mid-night January 7, 2013, the traditional end of Christmas Season. Thank you.
Picture of the Month for 2012