Sunday, September 13, 2015

Who Knew #23 City of Vernon: The Boxing Capital of the World

The City of Vernon is best known today as an industrial city, but who knew that a century ago it was known as the "boxing capital of the world" When you think about this slogan, the classy Madison Square Garden or the electric MGM Grand come in mind, but in 1908 the City of Vernon had the Vernon Arena.

Jack Doyle a business man  owned a saloon in the new distinguished city right outside of Los Angeles known as Vernon. The saloon generated a lot of interest but needed to find some sort of entertainment. Boxer James J. Jeffries had just opened a training center within miles of his saloon that gave Doyle, a business idea. In 1908, Jack Doyle built an outdoor ring surrounded by wooden bleachers and called it the Vernon Arena. The arena would stage 20 round boxing matches and included many World Championship bouts. The arena would attract 12,000 boxing fans per event.

 Doyle's Arena

On Aug 22, 1913 tragedy hit the arena, Jess Willard (future World Championship Boxer) knocked out, upcoming boxer Bull Young in the 11th round and died right after. Due to his death California legislators limited boxing matches to only 4 rounds.

Jess Willard

Jack Doyle's arena broke records in attendance and profit. The arena was largely responsible for making boxing popular in Southern California. The arena closed down August 21. 1923 to make way for Doyle's new Vernon's Coliseum. The coliseum located on 32nd  and Santa Fe Ave, sat 7,500 people. The coliseum began to lose revenue as prohibition hit the area. What was once a sacred space for boxing and drinks was now a half empty place for amateur boxing. In 1924, Los Angeles was looking for a venue for wrestling and boxing for the Olympics but opted to construct the Olympic Auditorium just south of downtown, Doyle abandoned the coliseum and promoted his boxing matches in the new auditorium. In 1927, the Vernon Coliseum was destroyed by fire and ended an era of boxing in Vernon.

Jack Doyle 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hiking Adventure #5 The Ruins of Echo Mountain

In Altadena, Lake Avenue, lies a 107-acre playground for hikers and explorers called the Cobb Estate.  Some may know it as the "haunted forest" or "enchanted forest" due to tremendous number of rumors and dark history, but to some  it's just an into the wild escape from the city where you can hike up to the ruins of an early 1900s vacation spot.

The hike begins in the intersection of Lake Avenue and Alta Loma Drive. You will not miss the chilling yet welcoming Cobb Estate Gate. The hike has a nice and  shady flat walk for about .5 of a mile until you choose the Sam Merrill Trial, then its a physical conditioning battle. The uphill trail takes about two hours to the ruins of Echo Mountain. (Water is highly recommended)

After a 2.8 mile incline hike you will reach the foundations of the once-luxurious, turn-.of-the-century hotel, and the remains of its incline railway.

The Mount Lowe Railway 

The Mount Lowe Railway was created in 1893 as a tourist attraction on Echo Mountain. The railway, originally incorporated by Professor Thaddeus S. C. Lowe as the Pasadena & Mt. Wilson Railroad Company  existed from 1893 until its official abandonment in 1938, and had the distinction of being the only scenic mountain, electric traction railroad ever built in the United States.

The sole purpose of the Mount Lowe Railway was to take passengers to the  great magical land  called "The White City", which was known as a resort. At the time, it cost $5 dollars to hop on to the electric tram to this resort. (Estimated at $1,000 current value)

On January 6, 1993, the Mount Lowe Railway was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the remains are scattered for history seekers.

Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library

The Echo Mountain House (Resort)

As previously mentioned the Mount Lowe Railway was created in order to get tourist to stay at the Echo Mountain House. The house was constructed and finished in 1894.  According to the Los Angeles Public Library the building was 4 stories tall and had very modern  amenities.
The entire inside of the hotel was finished in natural wood. There were 70 sleeping rooms, plus large areas devoted to office space and recreation. There was a 40 by 80 foot social hall, a dining room, souvenir shop, Western Union office, bowling alley, billiard room, barbershop and shoeshine stand

The Demise of Echo Mountain 

The Remains of the Echo Mountain House
What seemed like a great magical resort turned into a magical disaster.  A series of natural disasters ate away at the facilities, the first of which was a kitchen fire that destroyed the Echo Mountain House. In 1909 a flood destroyed most of the hotel and its repairs was costly. The ten year old hotel was not being as profitable as expected. In 1938, the entire area was abandoned and simply left as memory.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Who Knew #22 The Last Major League Baseball All Star Game in Los Angeles

Who knew that the last time the Los Angeles Dodgers hosted a MLB All Star game was in 1980. That is exactly 35 years ago without an All Star Game in Hollywood. There has been many teams who have already hosted the Summer Classic at least twice since 1980. As of now there is not set feature date for an All Star Game in LA, however the earliest Dodger Stadium can host would be after the 2018 season.

If you are interested in reliving that game you can watch the entire game on this YouTube video

1980 All Star Game Los Angeles


Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
American League 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 7 2
National League 0 0 0 0 1 2 1 0 X 4 7 0
WP: Jerry Reuss (1-0)   LP: Tommy John (0-1)   Sv: Bruce Sutter (1)

This All-Star Game would be known for some exemplary pitching performances. The game resulted in a 4-2 victory for the National League and the MVP of the game was Ken Griffey Sr. who played for the Cincinnati Reds.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

This Day in LA History: March 29, 2009 Dodgers play at the Los Angeles Coliseum

On this day, commemorating its 50th year in Los Angeles, the Dodgers played one game in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Dodgers had  played in the Coliseum for a few seasons when they moved in to LA. This exhibition game had a crowd of 115, 300 the largest baseball attendance in baseball history in any country or league.

This game saw the Dodgers lose to the Boston Red Sox by a score of 7-4. Due to renovations and stadium dimensions, the Coliseum's left field corner was shortened to only 190 feet.

March 29, 2008 Dodgers vs Boston Red Sox record setting 115,300

Dodgers playing at the Los Angeles Merorial Coliseum in 1959

Monday, March 9, 2015

This Day in LA History: March 10, 1933 The Long Beach Earthquake

On this date at exactly 5:55 PM an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4 struck Long Beach. Damage to buildings was widespread throughout Southern California. A roughly  estimated fifty million dollars' worth of property was damage and 120 lives were lost.

More than two-thirds of the 120 deaths occurred when people ran outside and were struck by falling bricks, and structure debris. Among the buildings severely damaged or destroyed in the earthquake were many schools in and around Long Beach. Had the quake occurred a few hours earlier, while children were still in these schools, the deaths might have numbered in the thousands. The poor performance of school buildings in withstanding the shaking led to the passage of the Field Act. This piece of legislature analyzed schools all over California, to whether they could withstand a severe earthquake.

The cities of Compton, Long Beach and Huntington Park suffered the most in the earthquake as they were collapsed buildings and structural damages. Many of these cities were left without water for days. This major earthquake reshaped the City of Long Beach.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

This Day in LA History: March 9, 1963 The Onion Field Tragedy

On March 9, 1963, Los Angeles police officers Ian Campbell and Karl Hettinger pulled over a vehicle in Hollywood with a broken tail light. The occupants of the car, Gregory Powell and Jimmy Lee Smith had been involved in numerous amounts of bank robberies. The suspects  managed to disarm both officers and take them hostage. They drove from Hollywood to a remote onion field near Bakersfield, California where Campbell was shot and killed, while Hettinger managed to get away and run four miles to a farm house to get help.

The Onion Field

Powell was arrested on the night of the murder, after being spotted driving a stolen vehicle by California Highway Patrol officers. The following day, Smith was apprehended as well.  Both suspects were convicted of murder and sentenced to death. 

The Onion Field tragedy is very important in police work, as police officers are told to never give up their weapons regardless of the situation. This accident was documented in a 1973 book by Joseph Wambaugh tittle the The Onion Field. 

Just recently a TV series show Southland  (based on LAPD officers) used this accident as their series finale. I became interested in this accident due to that show and immediately read the book.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Who Knew #20 The Chicano Movement of 1968 Part 1.

In late 1967 East Los Angeles housed a school system entrenched in racism. The Mexican American community had the highest high school dropout rate and lowest college attendance among any ethnic group.  1 out of 4 students successfully graduated from high schools, and Mexican Americans were "pushed out" of public education. The poor facilities and constant underestimation of student capabilities by teachers created an atmosphere hostile to learning.  Many students believed in better education and demanded bilingual bi-cultural education; more Latino teachers and administrators; smaller class sizes and  better facilities.
 During the Spring of 1968, organizers decided to call for action by walking out of classrooms and protesting for equal educational rights.  Many schools were aware of the situation and had police stationed outside of East LA campuses  just in case students decided to walk out. On many occasions in March, students were beaten up and arrested for trying to walk out of their  classrooms. Despite police and administrative efforts to control walkouts, students gathered and walkout of schools to protest these injustices. 

On March 31, thirteen of the walkout organizers were arrested for conspiracy to disturb schools and the peace (which was considered a felony charge). Included in those 13 was a teacher Sal Castro, this created a community uproar which led to even more protest and gatherings in City Hall. All these events were known as the Chicano Blackouts.

Check out these 2 YouTube videos:

Check out this full PBS Documentary:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Who Knew #19 The Battle of Los Angeles 1942

Just yesterday when I was looking into air raid sirens in Los Angeles. I came across an interesting article about a moment when panic landed in the streets of Los Angeles.

In the early  morning hours of February 25, 1942, residents of Los Angeles  were waken up by loud screaming air raid sirens and thundering anti-aircraft gunfire. Thousands of residents, ignoring blackout invasion rules, (Rules that were set right after Pear Harbor) left their beds and went into the streets to watch sweeping searchlights and orange tracer shells streaming into the night sky. 

Pictures of the actual event from the Los Angeles Time

Trained volunteer air wardens grabbed helmets and boots to rush into action. Frightened drivers, speeding through darkened streets, collided with one another, resulting in traffic fatalities. Gunners expended more than 1,400 rounds of ammunition that caused quite a bit of damage to structures on the ground.

Many residents  believed that they were going to see a Japanese invasion force lying offshore when daylight broke. Although explanations for what had spooked military gunners ranged from a false alarm to  UFOs, an investigation could not clearly determine the exact cause. The incident turned out to be the only serious military action to occur over a continental U.S. metropolitan area during World War II.

To this date, this event which is now known as the Battle of Los Angeles has theories ranging from false alarms that led to chaos to an alien invasion. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Who Knew #18 Air Raid Sirens in Los Angeles

During my last semester at Cal State Long Beach, I took a Sociology class in Pop Culture and my final project was to give out a full day class lecture on a decade and connect some sociological framework that we had learned. During my research, I was in charge of the historical and political aspects of the 1950's. As some might know during the late 1940's, early 1950's, President Eisenhower’s political agenda was basically to contain Communism creating this "Red Scare". The 1950's brought in the beginning of a Cold War between the United States and Russia. In my presentation I discussed  the style of living due to this Cold War and talked about intriguing  bomb shelters and air raid sirens that existed in  Los Angeles.

 Like many aspects of the Cold War, Civil Defense Sirens became part of people’s daily lives all throughout the United States.  In Los Angeles, sirens were tested in unison at 10 a.m. on the last Friday of every month. Typically these sirens were placed atop tall fire stations or attached to 30-foot steel poles; residents would hear a loud blast from the sirens. More than 250 civil defense siren towers were activated throughout the streets of LA. These sirens were supposed to alert people about a Russian attack so they could find shelter.

According to the LA Times,

By 1980, then-Sheriff Peter J. Pitchess reported that the sirens were "virtually useless." The federal government stopped providing for the sirens' upkeep. Officials discovered that parts were hard to find, that many sirens no longer worked, and that removing them would cost more than $250,000.
Monthly siren tests were silenced in January 1985 by order of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Then-Supervisor Kenneth Hahn said the system gave citizens a "false sense of security" and false alarms "panic[ked] people at 2 o'clock in the morning

There are around 150 sirens still visible within city limits of Los Angeles, just the other day as I was driving home from work, I looked up in one of street lights and realized there was one up there. (I have yet had the opportunity to take a picture of it)

Here is a link to a map with all the locations of air raid sirens in Los Angeles.

Monday, March 2, 2015

This Day in LA History: March 3, 1991 Rodney King Beating

On March 3, 1991, Rodney King was caught by the Los Angeles police after a high-speed chase. The officers pulled him out of the car and beat brutally assaulted him, while someone caught it all on videotape. The four L.A.P.D. officers involved were indicted on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and excessive use of force by a police officer. However, after a three-month trial, a predominantly white jury acquitted the officers, inflaming citizens and sparking the violent 1992 Los Angeles riots

L.A riots of 1992

A few YouTube videos of this incident 

Who Knew #17 MLB Spring Training in California

 The month of March always brings joy to every baseball fan out there. The beginning of the new season begins with spring training (practice games before season starts in April) 
While Florida and Arizona now host all Major League Baseball teams for spring training, this has not always been the case. Before the Dodgers and Giants made their cross country move to the west coast some Major League baseball teams held their spring training in California. Here are 5 teams who trained in   Southern California during Spring Training
White Sox (1933-1952)

 In 1933, the White Sox took up residence at Pasadena's Brookside Park. The White Sox enjoyed many celebrities during their stay including Marilyn Monroe


 Chicago Cubs (1966)
The Chicago Cubs trained in Long Beach during their spring training season in 1966. They occupied Blair Field (home of Cal State Long Beach baseball) for just one season. The Chicago Cubs held spring training and played eight exhibition games at the ballpark. Long before training in Long Beach the Chicago Cubs practice in the Catalina Island from 1921-1951.

Pittsburgh Pirates (1937-1942, 1949-1952)

One of the most interesting teams that played in the Southern California were the Pittsburgh Pirates who played in San Bernardino

 In 1937, San Bernardino civic leaders brought Pittsburgh Pirates to their town with offers of a custom-built spring training facility at Perris Hill Park.

 Philadelphia Athletics 1940-1943

In 1940, the city of Anaheim welcomed the Philadelphia Athletics to a newly built facility at La Palma Park for 3 years. This is the only team to have ever had play a spring training game in Orange County

California Angels 1961-1992

The California Angels were the last and final team to ever have a spring training facility in California. The Angels trained and played their spring training games in  Palm Springs'. The Polo Grounds, later renamed Angels Stadium in recognition of the longstanding association left to Tempe Arizona after 1992.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

This Day in LA History: March 1, 1983 The Last Tornado in LA

When you think about natural disasters in LA, the first thing that pops to your head are earthquakes or landslides but how about tornadoes?

The last major tornado of any account taking place in Los Angeles occurred exactly 32 years ago day, on March 1, 1983.

This Los Angeles tornado was classified in the tornado spectrum as  “significant damage". Roofs torn off frame houses; mobile homes demolished; boxcars overturned; large trees snapped or uprooted; highrise windows broken and blown in; light-object missiles generated.” Wind speeds were approximately from 113–157 mph. The tornado began from 7:40 to 8:05 a.m. The tornado injured a total of 30 people in South Los Angeles, and destroy a total of 60 homes.

This tornado has been classified as the last tornado to have ever hit Downtown Los Angeles and be classified as an F2 (Classification of Tornadoes which means it can cause significant damage)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Who Knew #16 The Baldwin Hills Disaster

So what’s the craziest disaster in Los Angeles that you may not ever have heard of?
Well, how about the Baldwin Hills flood that took place 52 years ago.

The Baldwin Hills Dam was a reservoir that supplied drinking water to West L.A residents. On Dec. 14, 1963 the Baldwin Hills Dam collapsed with the fury of a thousand cloudbursts, sending a 50-foot wall of water down slamming into homes and cars . It took approximately 77 minutes for the dam to empty out its 300 millions gallons of water. In the ensuing flood, 277 homes were destroyed and 5 lives were lost.

This disaster was the first such live aerial coverage of a breaking news event.

Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library



Saturday, January 24, 2015

Urban Legend #1 The Three Nuns

I've always been a fan of ghost stories and urban legends, perhaps you have seen my other post which involve some sort of intriguing urban legend like the Downey Asylum story.

So as I made my weekend getaway trip to Santa Barbara, I visited a few historical landmarks and made my way to the Chumash Casino. As we were driving back to head home on the 101 my friend began talking about the ghost sighting of the tres hermanas (the three sisters) As you drive down Ortega Ridge Road in Montecito, three nuns stand, arms crossed, dressed in black and try to hitchhike a ride back to the Santa Barbara Mission

Urban Legend says, that these three sisters were supposedly tortured and killed by the Chumash Indians in the 1840's. These Native Americans had rebelled against the Spanish Missionaries and created their villages in Montecito to stay as far away from the mission possible.  These three nuns had left the mission to spread religion  and provide supplies as a peace offering to the Native Americans. The story became an urban legend as  Native Americans from that village began seeing the nuns years after they had been murdered.

A lot of people from the area are familiar with the story and people say you can find these three nuns at Highways 101 and 192.

Picture from check them out for more pictures and other cool and interesting CA stories

Monday, January 19, 2015

Historical Landmark #15 Mission Santa Barbara

 2201 Laguna St.
Santa Barbara, California 93105
California Historical Landmark #309

On my first road trip of 2015. I decided to go with my group of friends up north to Santa Barbara. After visiting State St by night , we decided to go on a historical landmark visit so we went to the Santa Barbara Mission.

Founded on December 4th, 1786, it was the tenth of 21 missions in California.  Padre Junipero Serra, who founded the first nine missions, had died 2 years earlier but had planned to build the mission by the presidio (A Spanish military installing) of Santa Barbara. It was Padre Fermin Francisco de Lasuen, his successor, who raided the cross here in 1782.

Prior to the Spanish arrival, the Chumash inhabited the area from Malibu to San Luis Obispo. (I even had the opportunity to go the Chumash Casino during this trip)

The original purpose of the mission (which is something you learned in 4th grade if you lived in California)  was the Christianization of the Chumash Indians. According to the missions history this was considered accomplished by the early 1930's. Soon after the mission was secularized and turned into a school. In 1846 the Governor of California confiscated the land and sold it, however in 1865 President Abraham Lincoln order the land and mission to return to Catholic Church. 

The mission has gone through restoration projects due to Earthquakes but still kept that 1786 glow.

Overall its a nice historical landmark to explore full of nice architecture, gardens and tourist taking pictures.