W.C.B. Richardson, who was know as
the "First Citizen of Tropico"

firedept
A photo by Edward Weston of Tropico's
Fire Engine.
weston
Edward Weston, renowed art photographer gained inspiration From Tropico.


Irvine Robbins and Burton Baskin set up their first store, SnowBird Ice Cream, in Adams Square. They then renamed their business Baskin-Robbins.


baseballteam

The Tropico Baseball team poses proudly in 1915

acacia
"Acacia Hills" developing during the early 1920s
(looking southeast from Acacia and Chevy Chase)




Cultures converge in Adams Hill.

A Trip Back in Time To Tropico

Tropico was the name of the southern portion of Glendale, south of Windsor Road, between the late 1800s and 1918. The name "Glendale"  had originated in the 1880s and was utilized north of Windsor Road. Political factions had divided the town in two.   By the turn of the century, the commercial center of Tropico was at Central and San Fernando Road and its population was 700.

On March 15, 1911, the independent spirit of the residents of Tropico asserted itself when the City of Tropico formally incorporated as a separate municipality adjacent to Glendale. By 1914, Tropico’s population was a booming 3,200. Tropico's City Hall was at the corner of Brand and Los Feliz Blvds (then called "Tropico Boulevard").  The Tropico School was located on Cerritos Avenue at the same location as today's Cerritos School. Tropico's other school, the Acacia Avenue School, opened its doors in 1914 and is today the site of The Horace Mann School, which was built in 1954. The Bank of Tropico was incorporated in 1910, with Dan Campbell (builder of Ard Eevin in N.W. Glendale) as its president.

The vast majority of Tropico would later become southwest Glendale, and eventually the undeveloped area evolved into today's Adams Hill. Tropico had its own baseball team (with no affiliation to any league) and had a newspaper, The Tropico Sentinel.

Tropico was annexed to Glendale in 1918, and then became known as The Tropico District of Glendale. This district, 861 acres, was bound by Garfield on the north, city limits on the south and east, and the Southern Pacific Railroad on the west.
There were parts of Tropico, however, that remained unincorporated and eventually became the Atwater Village portion of Los Angeles.

W.C.B. Richardson and his Ranch
Tropico's most prominent pioneer settler and one of the major historic figures in Glendale's history was William C.B. Richardson, a landowner and developer in the later 1800s. Richardson House, now relocated to 1281 Mariposa St. at the corner of Cypress, was built in 1873 and is one of Glendale's most treasured landmarks and the oldest wood frame structure in Glendale.
The 20s Building Boom
Watts Subdivision, Glendale Hts, Acacia Hills,
Heide-Boynton Tract and others
Residential development took off after Tropico's annexation into Glendale. Several sub-divisions sprang up, one of the largest being the Watts' Subdivision, which was later broken up into smaller developments. The eastern side of the district was dubbed "Acacia Hills, " as there were many Acacia trees in the area. The Glendale Evening News in February of 1924 described Acacia Hills as "..one of the most sightly spots in this vicinity and known throughout the southland for its natural beauty, the fame of Acacia Hills has spread like wild fire." Because of its stunning vista views, builders were attracted to the district. By the 1920s this area was being developed in earnest with houses stacked up upon the hill, and the Adams Square commercial district was thriving.
Tropico is Home of Photographer Edward Weston
World famous art photographer Edward Weston chose Tropico as the home of his first studio on south Brand Boulevard "…on account of the peaceful and artistic atmosphere and scenery in and around Tropico". In the early 20th century promotional booklet "Tropico, the City Beautiful" by Henderson and Oliver, The Edward Weston Studio is described as "..a little flower-covered bungalow, nestled among trees and clinging vines." This booklet includes many photographs of the area taken by Weston. During his residency in Tropico, he was already a nationally renown art photographer and his popularity was considered to be "…the source of bringing to Tropico many prominent artists." Tropico and Adams Hill today still house many artists.
The First Ice Cream Store owned by Baskin & Robbins
In 1925 the only commercial building in what is now Adams Square was the 1120-1130 South Adams St. building. This building would figure prominently in our nation's popular lore when, in 1945, Irvine Robbins opened the Snowbird Ice Cream Store. That same year, Robbins teamed up with his brother-in-law Burton Baskin to create the Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors Ice Cream chain and the rest is history. The original storefront facade has been covered over.

Bordering Adams Square is the John Muir School, at 912 S. Chevy Chase Dr., originally built in 1926 and reconstructed in 1950 to meet building codes.
The residents of the eastern section of Tropico (that is, present day Adams Hill) all navigate their way back home by sighting the world famous Forest Lawn Memorial Park at the high spot on the hill. Forest Lawn is the resting place of many of Hollywood's brightest stars. It was founded by Dr. Hubert Eaton in 1906. The property was originally the home of Andrew Glassell's daughter. Glassell was an early developer in the area and the LA neighborhood to the south of us, Glassell Park, is named for him. Hubert Eaton's home still stands at Prospect and Alta Vista today.

Palmer Park, West of Adams Square, off Palmer Dr. is one of Glendale's most beautiful parks with its stunning hillside backdrop. Palmer Park was built in the 1940s in response to public demand for more open parkland in our area.
Adams Square - the beginning of a commercial center
The commercial zone we know today as "Adams Square" was launched when the Art Deco Adams Square building was inaugurated as "The Adams Square Building." In 1931, The Glendale News-Press did a large promotional piece on the Adams square area, featuring the building and pictures of prominent business people in the area.

The Adams Square Building commercial zone of our area was first named "Adams Square" upon the naming of the building. The Adams Hill neighborhood and its commercial center, Adams Square, are alive and thriving. The commercial revitalization project includes new street scape, plaza, landscaping, building facade improvements and a mini-park that includes the historic 1936 Richfield Oil Company's streamline moderne gas station building as a centerpiece.
Tropico's Successor, southern Glendale is a cultural melting pot today
The areas of Tropico and Adams Hill are today known for eclecticism, ethnic diversity, and Bohemian charm. The area is home to people of all professions, income levels, and backgrounds "...a melting pot of many cultures, ethnicities, recent immigrants and some who have resided here since the early development boom of last century." The "Tropico Station" of the Glendale U.S. Post Office is one of the last vestiges of the historic name "Tropico" to exist on a building. There was a Tropico branch of the Glendale Public Library, but it was closed in the 1980s.
Exemplary period architecture
Adams Hill is a well known treasure-trove of beautiful, modest sized, architecturally preserved homes, especially of the Mediterranean, Spanish Colonial, and Tudor Revival Styles. There is also a generous smattering of innovative post war modernist houses sprinkled throughout the neighborhood as many innovative architects took to Adams Hill in the '40s and '50s to build at the higher altitudes.
References:
A is For Adams, produced by The Historic Resource Group
Tropico, the City Beautiful. Henderson and Oliver. Photos by Weston
Adams Square, Past Present and Future. Friends of Historic Adams Square
The Glendale Public Library Special Collections Archives
Archives of The Glendale Historical Society