Demolition to make way for the Glendale Galleria in 1974.
A two-decade teardown trend in the '70s and '80s marked the end of central Glendale's historic residential neighborhoods.
(Photo source: The Glendale Ledger)
Glendale History - A Brief Look
Woodland, Chaparral, and Grassland
The City of Glendale fills a major portion of the geographical
triangle formed by the Sierra Madre Foothills, the Los
Angeles River, and the Arroyo Seco. Thie region of 36,400 acres of woodland, chaparral and grassland was inhabited
by native American peoples, known variously as Tongva, Kizh, Gabrielino. The term Gabrielino, or Gabrieleno, derives from the early settlers tendancy to name native tribes after the nearest Mission - in this case Mission San Gabriel. It was the proximity of the San Gabriel Mission and the beauty of the surrounding area that attracted
the attention of Corporal Jose Maria Verdugo of the
San Diego Company of the Spanish army.
The Era of The Verdugos and Rancho San Rafael
|In 1784 Corporal Verdugo, a native of Loreto, Baja California,
received permission from his army commander Governor
Pedro Fages to settle and graze this land. In 1798 he
retired from the army to become a full-time rancher,
and title was established. His ranch, called Rancho San Rafael,
supported herds of cattle, horses, sheep, mules, watermelons,
corn, beans, peppers, and fruit. Senor Verdugo's route
to and from Los Angeles, via San Fernando Road at his
property's southern edge, came to be known as Verdugo
California became Mexican territory in 1822. Nine years
later Verdugo died, leaving his vast property to his
son Julio and daughter Catalina.
The Great Partition of 1871 - the Rancho is divided up
The next half-century brought many changes, with California
being ceded to the United States in 1848 and being admitted
as a state in 1850. Railroads were built to link Glendale to Los Angeles and points beyond. The fortunes of the Verdugo family
declined, causing them to sell or mortgage parts of
their Rancho San Rafael. There was great confusion due
to differences between Mexican and American title laws
until finally in "The Great Partition of 1871" the courts
delinieated the specific areas owned by twenty-eight different
people, including members of the Verdugo family. In 1871 Catalina Verdugo
died, followed by her brother in 1876. Of the Verdugo
residences, one, built by Julio's son Teodoro in about
1860, survived and the Verdugo Adobe (also called the Catalina Adobe) became honored as an important local
landmark in Glendale. The home and grounds were purchased in 1989
by the City of Glendale and became a public park.
| The Great Partition opened the way for more American
settlers. They cleared the cactus and sagebrush, usually
to establish fruit orchards. Sections of the former
Rancho San Rafael began to develop individual identities.
Residents of the central area gathered in a school house
in 1884 to choose a name for their community, with "Glendale"
being chosen. In 1887 residents in the southwestern
part organized themselves as a separate town, "Tropico".
This fertile area, for several years owned by W. C.
B. Richardson as Santa Eulalia Ranch, produced barley,
nuts, fruits, poultry, and dairy products and became
famous for its strawberries, "Tropico Beauties". The southeastern portions
of the former Rancho were developing separate identies,
and would later become Eagle Rock and Highland Park.
The extreme southern edge became Atwater Village.
How Glendale Got Its Name
|In the early 1880s town names such as Etheldean, Minneapolis, Portosuelo, Riverdale, San Rafael, and Verdugo were proposed for the area. Following Thanksgiving dinner in 1883, settlers met at the schoolhouse (which also served as the community church) on lower Verdugo Road to discuss the possible names for the town. Ultimately, a young woman painter from Chicago offered the two word name "Glen Dale" and it was approved. Although there is no documented rationale for this choice, "Glendale" means "Valley" in Scottish or Gaelic, and many of the early settlers of the region had emigrated from the British Isles. The two-part name was simplified to one word, however mail continued to be addressed to "Verdugo". It took eight years to persuade the Post Office to adopt the name "Glendale".
It's Official: Glendale becomes a Town
By 1887, Glendale , having an established name and being at about 150 acres, was surveyed and recorded officially as a town. By the turn of the century Glendale was rapidly becoming
urbanized. In 1902 the Glendale Improvement Society,
under the leadership of Mr. Edgar D. Goode and Dr. D.W.
Hunt, embarked on a campaign to advertise Glendale,
to develop new business, to attract residents, and above
all to bring the Los Angeles Interurban railroad to
Glendale from Los Angeles. The tracks were laid in 1904
through a strip of land owned by Leslie C. Brand --
a location well to the west of the then main thoroughfare,
Glendale Avenue. The railway (by then called the Pacific
Electric) eventually helped shift the business center of Glendale to
Brand Boulevard, and also sparked the desired population growth. Glendale was officially incorporated in 1906.
Leslie Coombs Brand Leaves His Mark
Leslie Coombs Brand (1859-1925), is Glendale's most legendary early booster. He developed businesses and banking, and had a lasting impact on the settlement and economic growth of the Glendale area. Brand was adventuresome, spirited, and willing to do things differently; his home, designed as a small replica of the East Indian Pavillion at the 1893 Colombian Exposition in Chicago, was known as Brand Castle and is stands todayas an ARt and Music Library in the Glendale Public Library system, as one of our region's most unique architectural landmarks. Brand made a fortune in utilities, transportation, and real estate and he built the area's first airfield on his property and even held "fly-in" parties. He partnered with Henry E. Huntington to bring the Pacific Electric Railway, or the "Red Cars," to the area and right down what became Brand Boulevard. He bequeathed his estate to the City of Glendale, and upon his his wife's death in 1945 the estate was converted to a library and park for the use of all Glendale residents. In 2008, the Los Angeles Times' published an article essentially validating the story of Leslie Brand's "second family", his secret marriage to Birdie Gordon and their two sons. Cherie Gordon, the grandaughter of L.C. and Birdie (her father was L.C.'s son Lee) also came forward in 2008. L.C. Brand's life story keeps evolving and revealing itself - even today.
The Fastest Growing City in America - and newly incorporated
In 1906 Glendale incorporated as a city, and in 1918
Tropico was annexed to it. During the 'teens and 'twenties
Brand boulevard grew into a lively, modern commercial
and entertainment street. Banks, department stores,
movie theaters and automobile showrooms appeared.
Citrus orchards and vineyards were further subdivided,
giving way to homes built in the popular California
Bungalow and Spanish Colonial Revival styles. Grand
Central Airport and the Southern Pacific train depot
connected Glendale to other communities and to the growing
film and aviation industries. Churches and civic and
fraternal organizations thrived. With population increasing
from 13,756 in 1920 to 62,736 in 1930. Glendale called
itself "The Fastest Growing City in America".
Glendale Becomes a Regional Center and Development Surges
| Glendale's growth soon stabilized, as the city maintained
its reputation as a pleasant, even sleepy, suburb of Los Angeles.
However, the 1970s brought a sudden, planned development surge which resulted in Glendale's a bustling regional
center of business and commerce. However, it also sparked a strong and lasting grassroots historic preservation movement as old residential neighborhoods in central Glendale were demolished and replaced with inexpensive multi-family housing. The saving of the beloved "Doctors house" from the wrecking ball in 1979 sparked the formation of The Glendale Historical Society, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2009. The Glendale Galleria
shopping mall was built; Brand Boulevard and adjacent
streets were "redeveloped", with large office buildings
replacing many small shops. The construction of the 134 Freeway across the center of the city created a "Golden
Triangle" of freeways that echoed the geographic triangle
of Jose Maria Verdugo's Rancho San Rafael.
New Cultures Blend with the Old
During the 1980s and 1990s Glendale's population grew
dramatically with the arrival of many thousands of immigrants,
especially from Armenia, the Middle East, Korea, Mexico,
and the Philippines. Large and small entertainment companies
played an expanding role in Glendale culture and business.
The newly restored Alex Theatre, 234 N. Brand Boulevard,
and numerous international style restaurants made downtown
Glendale a dining and entertainment magnet.
Glendale in the 21st Century - the story will continue
As the new millennium began, Glendale's population was
about 195,000. In 2009 it had grown to approximately 207,000. Brand Boulevard continues to be our downtown
"Main Street", and the site of many new projects including the Americana at Brand and several downtown residential and mixed use buildings. Traditional
neighborhood centers such as Montrose, Kenneth Village,
and Adams Square/Adams Hill have maintained their architectural and historic character. The rapid development of the last quarter century has fostered a growing
appreciation of historic landmarks and neighborhoods, as the city has lost much but also retained a large number of old buildings, especially houses.
In 2006, Glendale celebrated its centennial as an incorporated city --
a city which, though very modern, retains much of its
historic small-town feeling and natural beauty. As of 2012, the city has five designated Historic Districts. The 200 year old legacy of Corporal Jose Maria Verdugo
and his Rancho San Rafael survives in the names of the
gentle chaparral that embraces our city: to the
east, the San Rafael Hills, and to the north, the beautiful Verdugo Mountains.
|Want to Learn More?
The information on this page was taken from many sources. View our bibliography, visit the Glendale Public Library Special Collections Room, and learn more about Glendale history.