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.
March 2018- 1968 Legacy Plaque (Chicano Walkouts)
Our Picture of the Month features our new bulletin at the El Sereno Library. On display are photos of the race track, which operated from 1924 thru 1936.
Here is a video with more history of El Sereno's Legion Ascot Speedway.
Our Picture of the Month features a building located at 5013 Alhambra Avenue. In 1955, the location was known as OK Termite Control. Today, this building houses the well known Maya's Beauty Salon.
Today (March 1, 2018) marks the 50th anniversary of the Chicano Walkouts that took place at Wilson HS, Lincoln HS, Roosevelt HS, Garfield HS, and Belmont HS.
Wilson students were the first to walkout on March 1, 1968. Their actions kicked off what is now historically known as the Chicano Walkouts. These walkouts were the start of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement.
The historic plaque was unveiled today at the site of the old Wilson High School (present day El Sereno Middle School) in honor of those brave students who decided to take their educational future into their own hands.
Thanks to our fellow partners who helped make this event possible:
InnerCity Struggle, Wilson Mules Alumni Association, El Sereno Middle School, Wilson High School, LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia, and Councilmember Jose Huizar.
The beautiful mural that will accompany the plaque will be completed by April 28, in time for Wilson 80th anniversary.
Photo Info: Great turn out at today's plaque unveiling at El Sereno Middle (formerly Wilson High School). March 1, 2018
Join our Celebration
Saturday April 28, 2018
El Sereno Middle School
10:00am - 11:30am
Wilson High School
11:00am - 1:00pm
Begin your journey at Wilson's original location El Sereno Middle School where we will begin with coffee cake, entertainment, tours of the Old Farmdale School House, library and the campus. Then transition up the hill to WHS permanent location where we will honor 80 years of legacies, 80 years of building traditions, 80 years of learning, and 80 years of service to our community.
Let us never forget,
“Once a Mule, Always a Mule”
Our Picture of the Month features an El Sereno commercial building on Eastern Avenue which has seen its share of changes over the years. Back in 1953, it was Fuller's Television Sales and Service shop. The shop also sold appliances and sporting goods, including fishing and hunting licenses.
Today, residents know this business as Dough Box Pizza.
Our Picture of the Month features two of El Sereno's best:
Itzel Melgoza, (GPA 4.4 & IB Diploma Candidate) Class of 2018 Valedictorian
Stephen Sills, (GPA 4.397) Class of 2018 Salutatorian.
Special thanks to EastsiderLA for their contribution to this post.
The STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field inspires Itzel, so she joined the Robotics and STEM club at Wilson. Itzel searched for ways to improve Wilson as an elected student body official during all four years, including serving as Student Body President this year. She demonstrates the same desire for the city as a member of Mayor’s Youth Council. While Itzel will be heading to New York to major in neuroscience and behavior and Columbia University, she plans to return to the Eastside to help others.
To read more about Itzel Melgoza visit Woodrow Wilson's website.
Stephen remained strongly connected to his beliefs while remaining open to other perspectives as president of the Bible Club, Debate Club, and MCASA of Urban Visionaries at Wilson. His faith keeps Stephen optimistic about his community and his future. Motivated by the C.S. Lewis quote, “There are far, better things ahead than any we leave behind,” Stephen will make the most out his summer by taking an economics course at a community college, work at the East Los Angeles Courthouse and write a book. In the fall, he will attend Stanford University as a Gates Millennium Scholar.
Our Picture of the Month features the Honorary Mayor of El Sereno for 2018-2019. Starting in January, the El Sereno Bicentennial Committee reaches out to community members and asks them to run for the position. The individual who raises the most funds towards the Independence Day Parade earns the title of Honorary Mayor of El Sereno.
This year, Dr. Amed Lopez has earned this title for the second consecutive year. Here is a little more information on Dr. Amed Lopez:
Dr. Amed Lopez, a graduate of South Baylo University, carries a passion and devotion for helping others. He sees education as a method to improve the standard of living. All these years living in the United States of America has taught him to respect and value the privileges afforded to us by the constitution. As an immigrant, coming to the USA alone, he experienced the meaning behind "it takes a village to raise a child."
Amed Lopez came to the United States as a young man with a dream. While living in the streets, he was found by an American family who took him in and made him feel at home. The hospitality and kindness of his new family transcended blood lines. The American family inspired this young man to live with a new mantra: family first. "I see how important it is to grow personally and to see how beautiful our community is and to grow with the community," says Dr. Lopez.
We thank Dr. Amed Lopez for his work in the community, as well as for his support of El Sereno's annual Independence Day Parade. Special thanks to the El Sereno Bicentennial Committee for all the great work they do as well.
Join us on the best 3.1 mile trail course in East Los Angeles! The 4th Annual Ascot Hills Challenge 5k will take you on a journey through the rolling hills of El Sereno where the legendary Ascot motor speedway of the 1920's and 30's hosted crowds of 10,000 and more to witness weekly auto races that brought in the biggest and best racing stars of their time!
The 5k course will challenge all levels of runners, walkers and hikers. The race is chip-timed for those seeking friendly competition and/or a chance to win a commemorative LAFD challenge coin.
This year, the El Sereno Historical Society is sponsoring the El Sereno Elementary Team, consisting of students and staff. We think it's important to support healthy and positive events in our community, especially our youth. This event has become a community favorite, as well as being popular with runners from all over the county!
If you enjoy trail running, walking or hiking, you'll be certain to enjoy this event with spectacular views of Los Angeles, Dodger Stadium and the Hollywood sign, all visible from within the park.
To register and more information visit the Ascot Hills Challenge website at: https://runsignup.com/Race/CA/LosAngeles/AscotHillsChallenge5K
See you there!
Fern Place Pedestrian Tunnel, 1928 and today. Top photo courtesy of USC's Digital Archive.
Many residents of El Sereno (and neighboring cities) have driven by this location and probably rarely noticed or questioned the reason why there is a pedestrian tunnel on Fern Place, running under Huntington Drive. 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 Drive Elementary School. The truth is not as simple as it may seem.
First of all, to understand the need for a pedestrian tunnel at this location, one should know that the Pacific Electric Railway had a four-track system that ran through Huntington Drive North. Next to the outside tracks, motorists drove on Huntington Drive North. As one can imagine, trains, cars, and pedestrians all at one site creates a dangerous environment, especially for pedestrians. 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 ran on 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 during rush hour. Local residents of El Sereno who dared cross this section of roadway during rush hours could be greeted with a very nasty scare, or worse. Subsequently, the location of the tunnel served Huntington Drive Elementary, a historic school that was built in 1909.
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 injured, 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 Pl. 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 Pl. tunnel remains the same, especially when it comes to the reason it was built: to save lives. It's great to see that a life-saving relic of El Sereno's past--is still serving our community as a life-saver today.
Join us as we celebrate a free annual community event in El Sereno, celebrating the tradition of Dia de los Muertos. This is a family friendly event. Come enjoy the free music, have a taste of El Sereno from various community restaurants, and the vendor booths as well as the various community altars.
Saturday, October 20, 2018 from 3 pm to 10 pm
Huntington Drive between Pueblo and Portola Ave, 90032
The El Sereno Historical Society presented to four classes over a 2-day period. Some of the topics that we shared with the students were:
Native American Village-Otsungna
The Rancho Period-Rancho Rosa de Castilla
Early Days (Post-Rancho Period)
Pacific Electric Railway Company
Farmdale/Wilson & Cal State
The presentations were followed by a bus tour of El Sereno, where students were able to see first hand important historical sites, buildings, and general history of El Sereno. Important issues affecting our community were also discussed. Our community tour included a stop at the local El Sereno Library Branch, where students learned more about our community's history and were advised by the librarian, Gene Estrada, of all the free services that the library has, especially for students.
The classroom presentations and community tours were gratifying, as many students were eager to discover and very surprised to learn that our community has a deep and rich history. Early in the new school year, we also had the pleasure of giving a community tour to Wilson High School teachers, staff, and administration.
A special thanks to everyone who helped make these events possible:
Gilberto Martinez- Wilson High School Principal
Erica Welsh-westfall- Diploma Program Coordinator
Peter Hyde- Ethnic Studies teacher
Gene Estrada- El Sereno Branch Librarian
El Sereno Historical Society: Last Project of 2018 and Recap
As this 2018 year draws to an end, the El Sereno Historical Society (ESHS) continues working on making our community a more beautiful and better place for residents.
Our most recent project of 2018 reflects ESHS efforts to preserve the arts of El Sereno. A couple of weeks ago, we noticed that the mural on Lombardy and Alhambra Ave had been badly hit with graffiti. The mural was created in 2014 by Wilson's Urban Visionaries students and teachers, with well-known lead artist Kristy Sandoval.
The mural was made possible with support from Asian American Advancing Justice. The mural depicts the struggles of immigrant students and their families. We have unofficially adopted this corner as one of our yearly clean up spots as well. Therefore, as soon as we saw the graffiti on the mural we got to work. After the necessary phone calls and emails, we went out and started painting.
A big Thanks to local artist, El Sereno resident, and Wilson teacher, Eladio Chavez, for taking time out of his day and donating his talent and supplies needed to clean up the mural.
RECAP OF 2018
ESHS started off the year collaborating with Wilson Mules Alumni Association (WMAA), InnerCity Struggle, LAUSD, Councilmember Huizar, County Supervisor Solis, community members and artist to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the 1968 Student Walkouts. A series of events were carried out to commemorate the 1968 walkouts and our community's role in the student walkouts. The highlight of these events was the unveiling of a landmark mural and plaque recognizing the role of Wilson High School students in sparking the 1968 Chicano walkouts and movement.
Simultaneously, we continued working with WMAA and LAUSD to celebrate Wilson High School's 80th Anniversary at the "old" and "new" Wilson campuses. The celebration entailed tours of the campuses, a collection of memorabilia, historic photos, and a program highlighting Wilson's history. The synergistic role El Sereno has had with its beloved high school cannot be described with words. Wilson is truly an indispensable institution of El Sereno.
We continued El Sereno traditions by participating in the annual El Sereno's Fourth of July parade, firework show, Wilson High School College Feria, Ascot Hills 5K Challenge, and Dia De Los Muertos events.
Our mission to share El Sereno's history and keep the community informed was made possible through our monthly newsletters, Facebook, website, El Sereno Branch Library bulletin board, community events, and work with our local schools. This year, ESHS provided tours and presentations to the staff and students of Wilson High School.
We continued beautifying El Sereno through community clean-ups and maintaining areas/streets in need of TLC.
As we come to a positive and successful close of 2018, we at ESHS look forward to an even bigger and better 2019.
So, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year to ALL!!
TOP PHOTO--Final product. Happy helpers taking a moment for a picture. We know this mural is a community favorite and we hope the community will continue to enjoy the mural into the years to come.Final product. Happy helpers taking a moment for a picture. We know this mural is a community favorite and we hope the community will continue to enjoy the mural into the years to come.