W.C.B. Richardson, who was know as
the "First Citizen of Tropico"
A photo by Edward Weston of Tropico's
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.
The Tropico Baseball team poses proudly in 1915
"Acacia Hills" developing during the early 1920s
(looking southeast from Acacia and Chevy Chase)
Cultures converge in Adams Hill.
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
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.
Richardson and his Ranch
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.
20s Building Boom
Watts Subdivision, Glendale Hts, Acacia Hills,
Heide-Boynton Tract and others
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.
First Ice Cream Store owned by Baskin & Robbins
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.
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
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.
Square - the beginning of a commercial center
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.
Successor, southern Glendale is a cultural melting pot today
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.
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.
A is For Adams, produced by The Historic
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